Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

In a recent Forbes article, titled “3 Signs You Should Quit after Your First Day on the Job,” this trifecta of points is enumerated:

• Your manager doesn’t spend time with you;

• Your workspace isn’t ready (neither is your email address); and

• They talk about policies but not mission, vision and values.

Wow! That was not the way it was the first day I went to work anywhere. I remember at my first job, the boss didn’t show up for three days. He was out visiting clients, a job I still consider more important than that of welcoming a newbie.

One place I went to work, I had to clean out the office occupied by my predecessor (who had run screaming from the building) in order to find a place to sit down. At another, the challenge was to find the office suite my employer occupied (it was a multi-tenant office complex). Yet another, I reported to work in a foreign country (where the native language was not English), and the paperwork I needed was back here in the states.

Snowflakes, I have news for you. This is not kindergarten, middle school, high school or college, or at least it wasn’t treated that way back in the day.

Admittedly, I started my first industrial job (ignoring farm work at home or with the neighbors) 50 years ago. I think perhaps because our bosses back when I started were World War II veterans and many had had their “first day on the job” in boot camp, they saw it fitting to welcome newbies the same way.

But here is the secret this old ice cube learned early. The bigger the mess into which you walk, the better opportunity you have to rise quickly in the organization. Providing, of course, you are willing to roll up your sleeves, study what is going on and show initiative. The people you see at the top of organizations all came in this way and never stopped pushing forward, cleaning up the messes, motivating their peers and making their employer better.

Your boss’ job is not to make you happy, it is to motivate you, using all the tools in their emotional kit.

Today, we are still always looking for people who are self-starters and can jump in without complaint and help us improve. Even then, sometimes we have to let them go. Three years ago when I was sick, the company had to sever ties with a wonderful and promising young person for the simple reason we had to cut back everything we could at the time. I am still sad about that one, but have a feeling this person is being hugely successful wherever they are today.

One of the exercises I put myself through when I worked for large corporations was this: to how many decimal places do I have to run out the company’s annual earnings per share in order to see my contribution? I quit one large company for this reason: I calculated the answer to be 50 or 60 decimal places. I just wasn’t worth it for them to have me. I decided I was a waste of their resources – I wasn’t even a rounding error.

Along the same lines, I have had discussions with snowflakes who find it shocking that a company would expect to make money on their efforts. This is just simple logic. Why would anyone hire you if they did not think they could make a profit on what you cost them? There is no reason to do so.

So, snowflakes, if you have decided to go to work for someone, embrace the chaos with which you are presented upon arrival. This just may be your golden opportunity to show the world that you can shine. If you want to be treated as something special, earn it. Even if your job is cleaning out the barn, figuratively or literally, be the best barn cleaner who ever lived.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at jthompson@taii.com.