Your first few jobs after graduating or mastering a skill are probably one of the most important things that shape your future. So what do you think you should be looking for the most in the early stages? Maybe working for the right company that’ll probably guide you in the right direction? But unfortunately, finding a job is the only priority for most people who are in this stage. They don’t care if the environment they’ll be working in will have a profound effect on their future. Therefore, most people end up working for the wrong companies and understand the crucial things the hard way. Others realize late that your career is not a quick sprint but rather a long marathon, so don’t waste all your energy in the beginning.
I don’t say I’m one of those who began the career by working for the wrong employer, but I can say I have learned a few crucial things the hard way, even after shaping my path.
Whenever I think of my very first job, the first thing that comes to my mind is my energy and the willingness to prove myself. Back then, I won’t mind pushing harder every day to show my efficiency and prove that I was the right recruit. Well, it took only a few months before I ran out of fuel and started underperforming — not in regards to the employer’s benchmark but comparative to my past performance. I had understood that pushing harder was only benefiting my employer but not me personally. Instead, I was wasting the quality time that I would otherwise spend with my friends and family.
It took me a year to understand that shaping a career on the right path is a long-term process. You will not become the CEO in a year of joining a company. So instead of trying to push for the amounts, I needed to focus on delivering quality work with a long-term vision and invest more in learning. I was actually lucky to find a few seniors who suggested to me exactly how to proceed in the right way though I doubted their advice in the beginning.
Fast forward to a decade and a half: I’ve been suggesting to my juniors and coworkers to avoid the mistake I made. First, if you push hard in the beginning, do extra hours, wear various hats, and obey every rule, the management will always expect the same level of performance from you, which is impossible to deliver all the time. Therefore, you should save your best for the special occasions that demand it. Second, and most importantly, delivering fast never matters but delivering quality work does.
Most companies that I’ve worked for have praised my style of leading. But like I said initially, you don’t always end up with the right recruiter or the management (in my case).
Somewhere in the midpoint of my career, I worked for this company as the leader of an important department. But, unfortunately, the company had one of the worst management filled with all the wrong people you can possibly have in an office. It was a place where all the people from the management department (they actually had a management department), and even the interns, would act like bosses for some reason. But it wasn’t my problem as long as my team was intact and delivering what was needed to be delivered. But problems started to arise when people began leaving the company, and there was an influx of fresh recruits.
As I was the only person qualified to train and guide some of the new recruits, I immediately took charge. Like I had been suggesting to everyone wherever I’d go, I suggested to new colleagues to focus more on producing quality work over aiming for quantity. I told them that pushing hard for the numbers will only use up the energy and lead to frustration once the delivery fails to meet the minimum requirements. But to my surprise, the management was pissed when it knew how I had been guiding my new team members.
I first felt betrayed because I thought I had been working for someone that prefers delivering high-quality service to its clients as they promise everywhere. Secondly, I took responsibility myself for failing to read the management through all the micro-management attempts and the intense insecurity. But there was nothing I could do other than to continue my quest for ‘an ideal company to work for.’
You see, you are likely to end up working for someone who deceives not only their clients but also the employees. So is there anything you can do about it? Nothing! You’ll try to avoid narcissistic management at best, but you’ll end up working under one because you need a job, and you can’t run your life without making money.
The only priority of most businesses is to make money. That’s it! So don’t be surprised if they fail to keep their promise — to the clients and their people.
One bad experience, however, never even shook an inch of what I stand for. I have since worked for recruiters who praise my very way of leadership. I think guiding people in the right way is never wrong, and you shouldn’t stop doing it.
Yes, honest companies exist! So be careful who you work with. You may end up working for the wrong people, but if you don’t give up on what you believe in and always be honest, you’ll find some fantastic people to work for.