“Every man is the architect of his own fortune.” – Sallust (speech to Caesar, first century B.C.)

Few of us are entirely happy with our current work — and if we are for a while, eventually some of it, at least, becomes ho-hum.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a better job, even if (a) you’re grateful for the one you’ve got (which you should be — especially nowadays), (b) you worked long and hard to get it, or (c) you are working for yourself.

I’ve been thinking about the advice I’ve been giving you this week (about how to get a new job or even a better job), knowing that some ETRs are employees of mine or businesses I consult with.

“Don’t encourage our employees to be dissatisfied with their work,” a client told me the other day. “And definitely do not tell them how to go about getting a better job.”

I almost fired that client, but I forgave him. He’s not a bad guy. He just doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand that business works best when all interests are served: those of the employer, the employee, and the customer. The aim of business, as I’ve said before, is not to please the employee, but if the business is a good one and properly run, the proper aim (pleasing the customer) will also please the employee.

My critic doesn’t get it because in his world the employee’s desire to have a better job conflicts with his desire to produce good products at affordable prices. He sees the self-improving employee as a threat. He might leave for another job or insist on being paid more. In the former case, the employer ends up with a net loss in production expertise; in the latter case, with higher production costs.

But that’s not the way it works in the real world. In the actual practice of running a business, you discover that the breakthroughs in value — better products at the same or lower prices — come almost always from getting your employees to work harder and smarter.

And you can get more of that kind of positive action by promoting the idea that employees should seek better jobs. The trick is to get them to seek those better jobs in the confines of your business.

Acknowledge that times are tough and the future is challenging, but then challenge your employees to discover ways to sell more product, improve its quality, increase efficiency, and raise the level of customer service. Let them know that as they achieve these goals new opportunities should open up for everyone — new tasks and responsibilities that will mean higher pay and more interesting work for each employee.

Let your people know that now is not the time to abandon ship and take the risk of a short-lived job with another company. Now is the time for them to leverage the advantages they already have by finding new ways to give your customers a better deal.

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