Career Stories & Articles
Job Shift: How to Prosper in a Workplace Without Jobs
The first chapters form a section titled “The Late,
Great Job.” Here, the book
reviews a number of factors that are resulting in a shrinkage in the
number of permanent jobs, including use of contract workers, outsourcing,
and continuing use of technology to replace people.
Social and managerial trends, such as reengineering and increased
use of project teams, have also lead to there being fewer permanent,
full-time positions in most organizations.
Historical insights serve well to put the book’s subject in
perspective. For instance, until the industrial revolution a “job”
meant nothing more than “a task done for pay.”
Job = “full time, 40 hour a week activity” is a meaning that is
less than 200 years old. Bridges
argues persuasively that the nature of work and the economy over the last
few decades is leading us back to a more fluid, less certain situation
where there’s just as much work, but where fewer and fewer people will
approach the workplace in the tidy box of “a job.”
The heart of Job
Shift is a four chapter section called “A Career Guide for the 21st
Century Worker.” This
section starts with an invitation to think of work in terms of markets
rather than as cogs in a sort of organizational machine.
Bridges’ point, which is made with a number of clear and
entertaining examples, is that valuable work is a response to another
person’s unmet need. Whether
as a “dejobbed” independent contractor or as an employee of an
organization, workers are urged to see themselves as providing solutions,
rather than as “doing my job.” Security,
in fact, lies best in being a valued provider of solutions.
Chapter 4 provides a quick and useful way of
reconceptualizing what you offer in either an internal or an external
labor market. Here, Bridges
points out that it’s helpful to think of yourself in terms of D.A.T.A.
The D stands for Desires, the real interests and passions that you bring to work.
A means Abilities, the knowledge, skills and capabilities that you bring to
a work situation. T comes
from Temperament, the particular
make up of preferences and personal style that influences where and with
whom we work best. A means Assets, the aspects of your life and experience that create job
satisfaction. A good
selection of examples from Bridges’ work with clients brings home the
power of using D.A.T.A. to create satisfying and valuable work.
The second Section closes with a chapter on
“Running You and Co. as a Business,” and with one on “The
Psychological Aspects of Dejobbing.”
The first of these provides practical advice to the newly
independent person who has chosen to act as an entrepreneur or
“microbusiness” owner. The
chapter on the impact of dejobbing is one of the book’s finest.
Here Job Shift points out
the power of “the job” in helping us set identity, define schedules,
manage time, build relationships, and of course earn income.
Also included are ideas for developing alternate ways of getting
some of the factors previously provided by “the job.”
Chapters 7 and 8 give some very topical ideas for
what management of organizations, and society as a whole need to do in
order to cope with a post-job workplace.
The book’s final chapter could almost stand by itself. Here, Bridges relates the loss of “the job” to shifts in
American history and the loss of the boundless frontier. At an individual level, some excellent transition management
strategies are suggested for handling issues like loss of control, the
need for understanding and support, and renewal of purpose.
is a compelling call to reconsider the nature of work and to address at an
individual, organizational and societal level the implications of a
workplace with fewer “jobs.”
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