What’s Your Job Legacy?

Have you ever wondered what people are saying about you at your last job?  No, not what your contacts say they are saying about you – but waht is really being said.  Think about it, what did you do, or didn’t do, that would lead people to bring up your name.  In a nutshell, that’s your Job Legacy. 

I like to think I’ve left a legacy at each job I’ve been at, some probably more positive than others, but a legacy none-the-less.  To leave a legacy you have do something that is lasting and memorable – something where people will go – “Remember when Tim…”   In the end why do you work?  I know it’s because you need money and benefits and blah, blah, blah…but really if you knew you had to leave your current employer in 24 months – what would you do differently to leave a legacy?

Oh, boy, that changes perspective a little doesn’t it.   If you’re in HR like me – please don’t believe that developing a process, or making a process better, or launching a new system, is going to have you leave a legacy.  People will remember the process or the system – but they won’t remember You.  Also, don’t think making a “big change” like instituting casual friday, or changing your compensation philosophy will work either – the leaders get credit for those things.  Wow – now it becomes a little harder, right?

So, how do you leave a legacy at your job?

Here’s what I think – there are a few ways:

1. Be so damn good – that it causes people pain or fear when you leave.  If a year after you left, people are still calling you for help from your old organization, you left a legacy.  If you think the company can’t go on without you, then you leave and you never hear from them again – you didn’t leave a legacy.

2. Build such strong relationships, that they become life-long professional relationships.  I get calls at least once per year to come work for someone I worked with perviously – not to go back to a company – but to come to a new company a peer or leader I worked with, is now working at.

3. Do something so stupid, it becomes part of the company culture.  I ran a department at one company and had 5 people report to me.  It was a department I started from the ground up, and we ended up saving a very large amount of money for the company.  I told my SVP that my 5 reports all needed more money, or I was going to look for another position.  He said thank you, I’ll take that as your resignation.  I don’t think he really got how negotiating worked! But I’m sure no one at that company has ever pulled that tactic again.

In the end we all choose whether or not to leave a legacy.  I’ve worked with thousands of people who were content not to leave a legacy – but I always tend to be pulled towards those who do want to leave a legacy.  There’s something about people who want to be great at what they do – there like magnets – they pull others to them that also want to be great – and pretty soon you have a pretty great team. 

So, you have a choice – what is your legacy going to be?

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