JOB SHIFT

Henry has a job. Like most jobs, Henry’s job comes with a title (ac- countant), a location in the organization (in the accounting department), and a specific function (accounting). In another department – say market- ing – more urgent tasks may need to be accomplished. But that’s not Henry’s concern. That’s not his job.

Sound familiar? Henry works in a traditional workplace where the work that needs to be done is broken up into specific jobs. But the tradi- tional workplace is disappearing fast. In fact, Henry himself may be his- tory as his company downsizes, reengineers, or decides an outside firm can do the accounting more efficiently.

Many organizations trying to cut costs and become more efficient are simply cutting jobs. The more innovative companies, however, aren’t just reducing their workforces. They are changing the ways employees work. They’re moving away from work divided among specific functions (jobs) to work based on teams and projects. Teams of employees, and perhaps independent contractors, come together to build a new product, much like neighbors in farm towns came together to put up a barn. When the product is finished, the team breaks up – just like those groups of neighbors.

These types of work arrangements already exist in many high-tech companies. And they are coming soon to a company near you.

So what should you do? You could start sending out resumes. Of course, you’d only be exchanging one vulnerable job for another.

Or you can decide to survive, and even thrive, by breaking out of your job box. Forget about the job position. Find the needs that are not being met in the company. Find ways to increase your contribution to your com- pany. Create new projects. Join cross-functional teams. In other words, find the barns that need fixing.

This summary will show you how.

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