Do You Remember What Unemployment Feels Like?

I was reading a short interview recently in ESPN the Magazine about Nascar up-and-comer Brad Keselowski, who is having a great year on the track.   The article was really around Brad’s advice/opinion on why he is having success and one point stood out to me over everything else. He said:

“I worry about job security every day. If you ain’t worried about losing your job, you can’t drive at the right level.  Even after winning at Pocono on August 7th, I remember thinking, at least this buys me a little more time. When the day comes that I’m not afraid of getting fired, I’ll lost my edge.”

Nothing like professional sports to bring out performance anxiety!  The fact is professional sports like Nascar, golf, tennis, etc., is the ultimate pay for performance model.  For the most part, professionals in those type of individual sports only get paid if they perform well, and only keep getting paid if they continue to perform.   It’s like the commission sales person – you either sell, or your kids don’t eat this month.  Most people hate living and working under this pressure – but some thrive and Brad gives you a little insight to how they do it.  Don’t ever get comfortable.  Don’t ever stop feeling what it feels like to not have a job. Because when you do, you might as well start looking for a new job at that very moment.

I love this!  This is an insight to one’s soul.  It sucks to be unemployed, especially is you’ve worked for a long time.  To get up in the morning and not have some place to go is very unsettling, to say the least.  But as HR Pros, how many times do we see people who have gotten to “comfortable” – who have forgotten what it feels like to be unemployed?   Maybe even you are at this point right now!   This is a gift that we can deliver to our employees.  To sit down and have the “looks-like-you’re-really-comfortable-right-now” conversation.  It’s not a threat, it’s a developmental conversation around – “what else” – what else could you be doing that you’re not, what else is out there for you to accomplish and how can I help you get there, what else do you need to do to ensure you keep this job?

To often we have these types of conversations with employees who are struggling, instead of with those who are coasting.  If we had more of these conversations with our coasters, we would probably have very few struggling conversations – and believe me the coaster conversation is much easier to have – because it’s being had with positive intent.

So, what can you do today?  Think about unemployment – in fact – think about it every freaking day.  About what it feels like, about what it will do to your life, about how you can stop it – because you can – don’t believe the hype that says you don’t have control – it doesn’t matter  – Mr. Corporation will just lay you off.  Those people who are pushing each day for better performance, who don’t settle, who don’t get comfortable – they aren’t getting laid off.  Unemployment sucks – remember that!

One thought on “Do You Remember What Unemployment Feels Like?

  1. “THANX” Tim. It’s been a very long time since I was unemployed but I do think about the “prospect” on occasion. I do have members of my staff that would be classified as coasters. Thank you for the idea. I made this point with one of my coasters today.

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