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Adaptable to change

In 2009, it was 150 years ago that Charles Darwin made his impressive journey aboard of the ship ‘Beagle’. During this journey, he acquired so much knowledge and insight that he drastically changed our perception of life on earth. He was the first scientist to prove that the world wasn’t built in six days, but that it is subject to constant evolution. Darwin proved that everything on earth is constantly moving. He showed us that change is the only constant. Even today, Darwin’s insights are more current than ever.

Over the past 10 years, our labor market has been totally changing again. Now, we find ourselves in an extremely stressful environment, in which people work harder than ever. This is not only the case for executives and professionals, but also at all organizational levels. This results from four trends:
  1. New technologies. We used to think that computers were going to help us, allowing us to have more leisure time. The opposite happened however. The new technologies have created an environment in which people became accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Everywhere, you see people who are addicted to their mobile phone; they use it all the time. Due to these new technologies, ‘media addiction’ has become a serious social issue. Moreover, there are always people who are prepared to work even harder than others. E-mail sending times have become new status symbols and ‘prove’ how hard someone is working.
  2. Less job certainty. For decades, people have been talking about redundancies, but no action followed. This was also the era in which mass layoffs were headliners in the papers; just think about DAF or Fokker. That era entirely belongs to the past. Large companies are continuously reorganizing, but this is no news anymore. It is business-as-usual. They reinforce their 'workforce' and we consider it as normal that people have to leave so that the company can continue to make profit and stay competitive. This has lead to the fact that managers and executives can always be fired in case of 'underperformance'.
  3. Increased wage differences. Before the financial crisis broke out at the end of 2008, the wage difference between the top and the work floor had kept increasing. The first employed millionaires are a very recent phenomenon, given that in the past, this was only the case for successful entrepreneurs or rich families. Options, big bonuses and high salaries for directors in American companies, for instance, are only typical for the last 20 years. Due to the increased competition between people aiming at a top position and its corresponding salary, many have started to work even harder.
  4. Globalization. ‘Are you already driving a Chinese car?’ The fact that the Chinese company Geely took over Volvo from the American company Ford, earlier this week, illustrates how the world order has already been changing. It is not a futuristic view; it has already happened! Top executives and professionals in the Benelux not only compete with each other, but also with their colleagues from China, India and Eastern Europe, to name but a few. When I am at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, where some of our relationships work, I only hear few people speaking Dutch. "It's a global village".
All these trends have created a new generation of professionals. They are more motivated than ever. A new generation having less certainties and leisure time than the previous one. Just think about the way they go on holiday. These people keep using their blackberries and iPhones to be joinable for work. They choose their holiday destinations according to the availability of WiFi, so that their laptop can easily stay online. Work and leisure time are coinciding. As long as people love what they are doing, this can be understood. But watch out: if you especially work for the money or the job certainty and you have to get real satisfaction only from your leisure activities, this is a dangerous combination. It is exhausting and you will have less and less leisure time left.

Therefore, it has never been so important to choose a job that fits you as well as to realize that everything is constantly changing and that you need to adjust your career. You should be proactive by concentrating on issues you can change and by accepting - as soon as possible - issues you can’t.

"It's not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." Charles Darwin


By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

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