Change and Jobs
We all have trouble with change. We get comfortable with what we know and are used to. Change causes us to have to learn new things and we don’t always want to learn new things. Change forces us to leave our comfort zones and move into unknown territory. Through design or through time we get into routines and habits that provide us all a comfortable framework to structure our lives around. We like to get up the same time every day and go through our morning rituals, and they quickly become rituals, to get ready to go to work. When we arrive we like to see the same faces and be in the same environment every day. New faces and new procedures are different and different is change; we don’t like change.
We start our resistance to change the minute we’re born. Why do new born babies cry when they’re removed from the womb? They’re used to the womb and feel safe and comfortable there. The new world they’re born into is a different world than the womb they started in. We all start out crying and objecting to change. But from the day we’re born we learn that our new lives are different but better because of change. It just takes a while for us to accept that “change” can be better for us.
At one time many people were employed making buggy whips, but it’s been many years since we needed large quantities of buggy whips. What happened to those who made the buggy whips? They were unemployed for a period of time and then they found new opportunities. Many of them found new jobs in the automobile plants. Nature abhors a vacuum. The hole in the work force created by the loss of the buggy whip demand was replaced with a demand for automobiles and a workforce to build them.
Was the automobile better than the horse and buggy? Maybe yes, maybe no. It doesn’t matter; they’re different, different causes change. Life requires us to change with the events around us.
Should there have been some artificial means used to continue the manufacture of buggy whips? Should the government have stepped in and required all automobiles to be sold with one buggy whip as a required accessory? That would have saved some jobs in the buggy whip industry. The families of the buggy whip employees would have been comforted by the job security that resulted from the government intervention. Would that have helped the auto maker’s situation to force ever car to be equipped with a buggy whip? The time and effort to maintain an inventory of the whips to sell with each car for no useful purpose would have artificially increased the cost of each car. The whips served no purpose and they had to go away. Evolution in nature and in business causes some species to go extinct and that’s the best thing.
A hundred years ago change happened much slower than it does today. Technology moves forward; what was state of the art a year ago may be obsolete today. A cell phone was science fiction 25 years ago, but they’re common today. Bank tellers were everywhere because there were bank branches everywhere 25 years ago, but now due to ATM machines and online banking there are fewer branches and fewer tellers. Change makes life different for us.
How we do things changes with time. Change is progress, change is a step forward. Paying tolls is another example of how things change. Tolls used to require a person in a booth to take your toll and offer you change if needed. Then they developed a basket for you to toss loose change into. A machine counted to the change to insure it was correct and then it passed you through. Technology advanced even more and the money is now electronically transferred from your account to the entity that collects the toll. Fewer and fewer people are involved in the toll collecting process. The task to sit in a booth and make change for the toll is being reduced and ultimately eliminated, but more skilled tasks are increasing. Someone has to maintain and service the electronic equipment.
Unskilled tasks disappear and more skilled tasks appear. One technician may take the place of 10 or more unskilled laborers. That’s the process that has been happening for many years. The fewer skills you have the fewer opportunities you have.
We must all take a good hard look at what we do and how we earn our living. Are we essential to the operation? Look and see who or what can replace you. I have seen quite a few people who collect data and then publish reports and the reports sit in a drawer and never get used. Why does that clerk exist? Why is paper used to collect data? In an electronic world data can be collected easily. And software can display it in a useable format to make it a tool for decision making. We need fewer and fewer clerical jobs. As each organization looks for a way to cu costs and be more competitive decision makers look at who adds the most value to the organization.
Forward looking individuals may want to stay ahead of the chopping block. If you add no value to the organization in the position you are in, get some new training and look for a better position than you have now. The unemployed have to have an open mind about what job replaces their old job. What they did before may become today’s buggy whip manufacturer. When you lose a job you may want to find a whole new industry and start at the bottom and work your way up.
Change is different; change causes us to move out of our comfort zone and makes us feel uncomfortable. We get used to what used to be. We know how to deal with what we are used to. We like our comfort zone, and want to stay there.
Just as with the new born baby, we have to embrace the changes that come our way and we will be better for the change. If we don’t we’ll stay in the dark in the fetal position and not have the opportunity to grow and advance and excel at anything. Change is an opportunity to excel and to move forward.
Change is progress and strength. Change moves us out of our comfort zone but it makes us stronger and more effective.