Throwing pearls before swine – a good way to drive yourself crazy

I have been talking to a number of people recently who made the unfortunate decision to work for dunderheads and are now beginning to realize that this is a losing game.

Having done this myself more than a couple of times, I have great empathy for them.

The problem stems from the fact that some of these employers don’t appear to be dunderheads when they interview you for the job in the first place. They may be relatively intelligent in many areas and may even have advanced degrees. They often can carry on a social conversation and may even have a broad range of subjects that they can discuss easily.

The hiring manager with anger management issues is relatively easy to spot and you will do well to end the interview if there is any suspicion that your interviewer is crazier than you are.

Are you still with me here? Your job interview is the place where YOU find out whether you want to work for this organization.

Essentially, the people who really drive you crazy when you work for them are the apparently sane and intelligent executives who have no real clue what you are doing for them and how difficult it is to deliver the product or service you are being paid for.

What happens is that you fail to set expectations for what you are delivering.

Now, some of you will argue that you spelled everything out and even put it down in writing to confirm what you would do and how you would do it.

Sorry! I’ve been there and done that too, but it’s not enough!

Some hiring managers are just glib. They will say yes to every condition you set as a requirement for working there and when you show up for work, there will be no office, or you have to supply your own computer until they get around to ordering one, etc. Or, they hire you for a management slot, but they want you to cover the phones.

Other situations are more subtle. During the interview they say that they want you to set up a marketing department, or a customer service division, something you have a great deal of experience doing, but they have never had a marketing department or a customer service division, so THEY HAVE NO CLUE WHAT THEY ARE ASKING FOR.

They may even offer you a handsome salary, but you miss the clues and fail to ask what their marketing or customer service budget is. What you find out, all too soon, is that they expect you to make this function happen by yourself.

After enough of these episodes, your job interviews become quite different. You spend 70% of the interview asking questions instead of answering them. Your interviews are shorter and more successful. They become conversations between peers. You may still get blindsided by a management team whose social skills cover up their lack of ethics, but your recovery time will be mercifully short and you will probably exit stage left in the first few months.

Whether you work for an employer or a client, give them everything you’ve got, but make sure they understand what you are doing for them.

If you maintain that viewpoint, you will be ready to address the first signs of discontent with a positive attitude and probing questions that should uncover the issues that are causing your client/new boss to show unhappiness with your work.

You are often hired to change things, but the powers that be often don’t like what that entails. After awhile, you learn to cover that topic gracefully in your interview.

If you do everything possible to set expectations properly and things don’t work out, learn from the experience and move on.

If you are competent, there is work for you. Your task is to find work you enjoy doing and people you enjoy working for. That is actually a goal worth pursuing. If you produce pearls, find those who need and appreciate pearls.

Good luck!

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