Will Job Performance Guarantee Job Security?

In April last year, I wrote a blog focusing on how important it is to manage your boss.  One of my readers, recently asked an astute question out of that blog.  Here’s his query:  If you are talented and intelligent then there is no need to impress your boss as your job performance will automatically impress your boss and I think he/she would love to support you in your career. Correct me if I am wrong.

Here in the Upper Midwest my reader would find agreement with his idea.  There’s a long history of belief that performance is the final arbiter of security and job success.  Anything else tends to be looked at with a jaundiced eye.  For example, when I suggest that a person’s boss may be clueless about performance, or may want to keep you right where you are because of your performance, the person quickly moves to a political statement.  It takes one of two forms.  Either, “I don’t believe in playing politics,” or, “I don’t believe in sucking up.”

Once and for all, the truth of the matter is that your performance has very little to do with job security or job opportunity.  There’s a very weak link between your performance and your career success.  This always goes down hard.  People want to believe in justice, and this is not fair.  But this is an idea that you need to forget.  Business doesn’t work that way. Job performance will not guarantee job security.

In Jeff Pfeffer’s marvelous new book on power, he puts it succintly: The data shows that performance doesn’t matter that much for what happens to most people in most organizations. Extensive and systematic research reveals that performance doesn’t guarantee either a promotion or a raise, and it may not even keep you from losing your job.

So what really does guarantee job security, promotions and raises?  To quote Pfeffer’s studies and summary of the research: You need to be noticed, influence the dimensions used to measure your accomplishments, and mostly make sure you are effective at managing those in power–which requires the ability to enhance the ego of those above you.

Originally Posted at Dan Erwin.

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