What's the most brutal word you never want to hear?





What's the most brutal word you never want to hear?
17 Mar 2015

What's the most brutal word you never want to hear?




  1. Being in the process of passing out of use or usefulness; becoming obsolete.

When applied to your career aspirations and ability to earn coin, the very word obsolescent should create a shiver, a trepidation, a foreboding – in short- give you the fear. A brutal word.

Throughout my business career two “truisms” have safely guided me. The first deals with organisational culture regarding Internal transfers. A fair point- “A talented employee shouldn’t have to leave our employment to change jobs.”

A culture where a line manager would rather a star join the competition than acolleague will never ever be attractive. Internal transfers, with clear transparent rules and provisos are a great retention tool. Enough said on that one.

The second truism is that “ the wrong time to find out you were pants at your job is in the exit interview” was a gem of advice I was given way back.

This links with that Dread-Pirate-Roberts of a word mentioned previously (becoming “Obsolescent,”) or rather, how do you avoid obsolescence? Many of us underestimate the value of the reputation capital we get by proving ourselves with one employer and by sticking around. Two way loyalty in great cultures is always alive, well and nurtured. Often mutual loyalty being central to the values of high performing teams and companies.

Knowing how to stay relevant and continue to be an asset is worthwhile skill. Here are five tips that may be worth thinking about.

  1. Never lose sight of your customer. Whether the internal or external customer, talk to them, know what they want and give it to them. Second guessing doesn’t cut it. So many times I have seen people produce amazing things that nobody asked for. One chat could have avoided the disappointment of rejection – just by making time for the customer.
  2. Solicit performance feedback. There is a fine line between building a reputation as being needy versus keen to improve. Work with your boss to get to a position where feedback is given naturally frequently and mercilessly. Need improvement (How) Doing just Fine (Why) Doing great (but what is next) are three brilliant tools to keeping employees engaged, on track and motivated. If your manager is not “into” feedback” explain to them why they will benefit from you receiving basic feedback.
  3. Alignment. How do you add value to the organisation? By aligning everything you do to everything the Company wants to achieve. Knowing what your core role is, how it is measured in terms of contribution and success and then exceeding those standards will make you very relevant to any forward thinking firm.
  4. Learning and earning. To me all too often “training” ends up being a great offsite, a great bookend file of notes and a late night in the hotel bar putting the world to rights. Employees who are intellectually curious, contrary and take it upon themselves (and not the company) to glean new knowledge are very attractive. Self-motivation when it comes to learning and applying knowledge is an irresistible quality. Those “What if” people are gems.
  5. Execution. People who execute, deliver and make results happen get exposure. People who get exposure get noticed and given more things to do. They gain value.

Good luck and may obsolescence never come knocking at your door!


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