#ArtificialIntelligence #AI #jobs #technology #thinking Artificial intelligence is, well, artificial. Machines don’t think for themselves, but they can piece together information recorded from different sources to make sentences, and do other things, that make sense. Many of us decided to do what we do for a career thinking that no machine would ever replace us. But technology and media companies are cutting some of the human brain power that made their products what they are. The suspicion is that artificial intelligence (AI) will replace those tasks in the not-too-distant future. In the old days when search engines were created, they could categorize data from similar entities and show users who, or what, they were looking for. But, search engines could not describe what a company does. It led to differences of opinion on “search engine optimization,” in which many people, and companies, specialized. Did you want your company to stand out from your competition, or did you want your company to be lumped in with your, perhaps, inferior competitors? If you wanted the former, your Web content had to explain why your company is better, or, at least, different from the rest. If you used key words in your content to satisfy the search engines, did those words just make you like everyone else that touches your space? Because AI gathers, would you rather have a thinking human rather than a gathering and assembling machine? Make no mistake: the gathering and assembling machine, undoubtedly, will be very useful for some tasks, and save companies lots of money. But if you are in the business of creativity, there will be no substitute for human thinking in many areas. Like humans, machines will make mistakes. Like humans, machines can put their talents to use in nefarious ways. Therefore, it takes humans to know when a machine is most useful, and when a human is most useful. We have to be on guard for unintended consequences of AI. Presuming we all want AI to do only good things that benefit mankind, we have to guard against the evil it could do – unless our intentions are indeed evil. Of course, AI does not need R&R, as humans do from time to time. AI can be employed 24/7, as most humans cannot. In short, it will take human innovation to not only create the AI that will replace some humans, but it also will require human supervision to guard against its pitfalls. Most humans can adapt to a changing workplace. The jobs we were hired for years ago turn into completely different jobs as companies evolve and change. It will take humans to help AI adapt to changing workplaces. Some of us humans will learn that AI perhaps can adjust to changing workplaces and conditions more quickly than some humans can. Humans will create AI. They will maintain AI. They will manage AI. Still, when AI really takes off, there will be fewer humans needed. With jobs going unfilled in today’s marketplace, that could turn out to be a good thing. Peter
A doer takes action because he or she wants to get something done, wants to do it well and doesn’t care who, if anyone, is watching.
A performer does something because he or she wants the recognition, or is required to take certain action by whoever is overseeing him or her.
Obviously, those in entertainment are performers, but successful entertainers are also doers, because, mostly in private, they practice to hone their craft.
Workers often find themselves in jobs in which they can perform. They do what is required, but don’t necessarily have a vested interest in the results. They simply do what makes the boss happy.
Other employees deliberately invest themselves in their jobs. Doing great work becomes a matter of pride. They go the extra mile regardless of whether they get credit, or paid extra, for it.
It’s not that doers are necessarily better people than performers. As with entertainers, performance can be necessary. But in ordinary work situations, performance can be a facade.
In other words, what “looks” good may not necessarily “be” good. If something “is” good, the person who did it knows it. And, to that person, it’s all that matters. If some credit comes with it, so be it. If some blame comes with it, so be it.
Whatever job you have, or whatever work you do, try to be personally invested in it. Sometimes, that can be difficult. Sometimes, that can even be impossible. In the latter case, you would be wise to find something else. But, in the former case, you should find something about the job that makes you want to do it, regardless of your orders.
Many employers, though they profess to want doers working for them, are content with performers. They just do what they are told, whether the employees like it or not. If they don’t like it, they know where the door is, and someone else can come in and perform.
These employers usually get what they expect – unhappy workers, high turnover etc.
In decades past, employers valued continuity. They had systems in which longevity and loyalty were rewarded. They hired well and retained well, and didn’t have to retrain frequently.
That mindset disappeared as companies figured that employee longevity was too costly for them. In fact, they came up with theories about how long a person should be employed before the costs of that employee were greater than the employee’s value to the company.
Then, they offered no incentive to stay in one company for a long time. The company saw no future for that employee. That increased “job-hopping,” making it difficult for a worker to plan for his or her future when work was over.
From there came frequent reorganizations and more bad managers. That made even doers – good employees – vulnerable to unforeseen departures.
That converted doers to performers.
The message here is that if you are an employer, and really want doers working for you, do your level best to give them reason to be doers. Better yet, give them reason to be long-term doers.
If you are an employee and a doer, look for a situation that makes it easy for you to be a doer. Yes, you have to have a good amount of self-motivation, but a combination of internal and external motivators is ideal.
So, do your best to be a doer. If you have to perform certain tasks, know the real reason you have to perform them and don’t lose sight of the reason you are a doer. Peter
#tools #jobs #employers #employees #WorkingRelationships To paraphrase a PayCom TV ad: Are you using the right tools for your job? Why would any company not want you to have the right tools? To illustrate, the ad shows a ditch digger using only a spoon and a high-rise window washer using only a toothbrush, for example. The questions posed by the ad, however, are on point. So many employers throughout the years have skimped on giving their employees the right tools for the job. Perhaps they were hesitant to make the investment. Such thinking is shortsighted. The employer will either pay now, or pay later for that mistake. Such thinking also forces employees to “make do” with what they have. That can have varying effects. It can bring out creativity and innovation among employees. It can also create frustration among employees, even to the point that they leave. Though it may be difficult to have ideal situations in the workplace, it would be wise for employers to see employees simply “making do,” and wonder how much better their operations would work if the employees had the right tools. In the modern workplace, the “right tools” can change quickly. Technology can become obsolete as soon as it is first integrated into an operation. It’s a tough ask for employers to constantly update the technology. An employer can be constantly chasing shiny new objects. But the onus is on both employers and employees to find the sweet spot among jobs and tools. Here’s a good rule: if employers and employees have good communication among each other, and everyone knows where everyone is coming from, that’s a great beginning. Employees who need better tools need to sell the employer on the advantages of investing in such tools. Employers have to make it clear to employees how much money is available to invest in tools, and what the best bang for that buck is. Some employers have surveyed employees on what they would like to have to do their jobs better. Answers can vary by the job, of course. But, in all cases, good communication and good working relationships among all concerned are required. Some unions have resorted to destroying their tools in disputes with employers. Why would any worker destroy the things that THEY work with? Do they think, by destroying their tools that they are never going to need them again? In short, good tools make good work and good workers. Even with limited company budgets, employers have to know what tools will give their workers the best productivity. Sometimes, that requires investment beyond a company’s perceived limit. Sometimes, employees have to innovate and create to compensate for the unavailability of certain tools. No one wants ditch diggers to only have a spoon, or a window washer to only have a toothbrush. But finding the appropriate tools for various jobs can be a fluid process. Good communication and relationships among all concerned can facilitate that process. Peter
#economy #jobs #GoodEconomy #BadEconomy #EconomicNumbers The U.S. economy is good, according to the numbers. Unemployment is low, salaries and wages are rising. Yes, inflation is higher than most would like, but seems to be coming down. Also, most experts say pay increases are outpacing inflation. Yet, people still believe the economy is not so good, according to media reports. Certainly, in any economy, there will be some people left in the lurch. Some of them are left behind by their own choosing (they don’t want to work). Many are left behind because juggling child care, a job and other responsibilities is difficult. At least one day-care center, rather than raising pay for their teachers, is instead providing housing for them. That way, struggling parents won’t have to pay higher rates. There are specific hardships as well. Tyson Foods is closing several chicken plants in small towns – where it is likely the primary employer — because chicken sales are down. The post-COVID work world has changed. More people are working from home. Some companies are raising pay rather substantially to get and keep people in their jobs. (That might be one trigger for the inflation numbers.) People’s feelings about the economy may also be affected by the messaging they receive. Some media outlets don’t want certain people elected to office, so they will keep telling their viewers and listeners that they SHOULD feel that the economy is bad. Even though numbers may not be what they seem in some cases, except for inflation, the numbers tell a pretty good economic story. It might make one wonder: why do I not think the economy is good? Certainly, every person has the power to better their own situations. There are oodles of options out there now that might not be there if the economy really does take a downturn. This economy present golden, if, perhaps, fleeting, opportunities. Perhaps you don’t like your job. Perhaps your job doesn’t pay enough. In this economy, you can change both of those things by looking elsewhere for employment. If day care and other life necessities are keeping you from working, perhaps finding something that would allow you to work from home might be an option. If your skills or job situation doesn’t allow you to work from home, many employers will work with you on your family situation. Most of them need workers. They will do almost anything to keep you, if you are reliable and good at what you do. Certainly, life and work are complicated. The pandemic exposed many of the vulnerabilities workers can face. This may be the perfect time for anyone to better his or her situation by checking out options that, perhaps, one may never have thought of doing. This is the best time in decades for workers. If you work hard, are willing to learn new skills, visit convenient employers to see what they might have available. Most of them are looking for help. If you like your job, and it works for you, excellent. If not, it’s incumbent upon you to find something else. Do you still think the economy is bad? Very likely, YOU can do something about it. If you don’t know why you think the economy is bad, perhaps you should re-evaluate where you get your information about it. Some people in power, when the economy was suffering, would say that if you were not prospering in that economy, it was your own fault. For many, it was not their fault. Now is the time to take matters into your own hands and find work that you can feel good about. Very likely, it’s out there. Peter
#ActorsAndWritersStrike #RevenueStreams #TechnologicalChanges #jobs #workers Television actors and writers are on strike over residual pay and their futures with artificial intelligence. This is not a simple dispute, with big-money studios taking more profits out of the hides of those who create their products. The whole media revenue stream is changing, with streaming subscriptions becoming a bigger part of the revenue stream, vs. advertising. In general, subscription revenue is lower than advertising revenue. Print newspapers went through this a few years ago. Advertising revenue fell, subscriptions dropped etc. There was a big bloodletting of jobs in that industry at the time. Now, as more people are cutting the cord to cable, and streaming their entertainment online, revenue for cable providers is dropping. Fewer people are watching “regular” TV, and that number keeps dropping with time. With such unsustainable revenue declines, the studios and networks have to do something. It’s understandable, with the comings and goings of shows, that actors and writers feel their pay is dropping. Of course, it’s not really dropping for the big-time stars. It’s just for the soldier actors who provide smaller parts, background personnel (extras) etc. These folks are NOT raking in the big bucks, even when they have plenty of work. They are working people, just like carpenters, plumbers and other unionized professions – if those professions are fortunate enough to still be unionized. As for artificial intelligence replacing some of these folks, studios should be aware that there is NO substitute for raw, human creativity. Certainly, human brains will be at the wheel when AI “creates,” but AI would simply copy past likenesses, for which those actors probably will not get residual pay. Or, if they do, it won’t be nearly as much as they would make for live appearances. Technology can be a godsend for consumers. Getting something useful, or entertaining, for less money is a goal for every consumer, no matter what one buys. But, we all have to remember that the less we may pay for something, the more people are going to lose jobs, careers and livelihoods. Just as elections have consequences, technological revolutions have consequences. The difference is we can change electoral results at the next election. We can’t stop technological revolutions. That’s why no one can go home at night from work and believe he or she can never be replaced. When the replacement comes, it comes as a shock to those affected. It’s important for everyone to have multiple revenue streams in their households. Some machines can do things better than humans. Usually, the human touch adds quality to any product or service. If companies care about quality – most say they do – they need to reckon with new revenue streams without compromising that quality. If you work for a company facing revenue challenges, don’t just complain about how much executives are making. (It can easily be argued that executives make too much in most companies). You have to figure out how your future will be impacted, and act accordingly. All the complaining in the world about executive pay isn’t going to change things. Some companies might be wise to curtail some executive pay to keep some of their best workers, if that’s what it takes. As the world changes, we all have to change with it, or be left behind. Peter
#GreatResignation #jobs #workers #employees #employers Recent reports have said the so-called “Great Resignation” is ending. Presumably, that would give employers more leverage, since people aren’t quitting their jobs in droves anymore. Part of the reason The Great Resignation is ending may be that employers are taking better care of their employees, so they are staying put. A warning to employers: Don’t get to confident in the leverage you may think you are getting back. There are still labor shortages in lots of areas. New jobs, particularly in clean energy, electric vehicles and other new technology, are being created in good numbers. Still, people staying with their employers can be a good sign for employees. Job hopping, though sometimes necessary, is not fun. A good stable work environment makes life better for most workers. A warning for employees: Don’t presume your good, stable work environment will last as long as you want it to. In fact, other reports are showing employers going back to converting full-time positions to part time. Today’s companies have to be flexible, and change with technology. They will be looking to shift costs and find efficiencies daily. Therefore, today’s stability can be tomorrow’s uncertainty. And, you won’t know when that change occurs, until it does. The pandemic taught everyone that good jobs, and good employees, are both desirable. Employers constantly are working constantly to find the sweet spot of happy workers, happy customers and good profits. Many employers have stepped up – most out of necessity – to take care of their workers as best as they can. If you are happy with your work situation, keep it for as long as you can. But, have an eye out for changes that you can anticipate. Remember, if you see waste and redundancy in your workplace, it won’t be long before your boss sees it, too. If you find yourself becoming no longer necessary, look for something else. Remember, too, that there will be changes you cannot anticipate. Therefore, have a plan for the day you walk into work, only to find you are being laid off. One such plan may start as a so-called side hustle. Income diversity eases unanticipated change. And, some side hustles can turn into full-time endeavors, or better. While you are in your current job, try to be as useful as you can be. Show your employer – not necessarily in a flashy sense – how much you can do and how well you can do it. In the past, workers were often advised to keep their heads down, lest they be chopped off. That does not work today. As an employee, visibility is essential. Remember, too, that just being seen is not enough. Be seen and be useful to the maximum extent possible. By most accounts, today’s workplaces are better than they were a few years ago. Still, that doesn’t mean anyone – employers or employees – should be complacent. In today’s world, good situations seldom last for as long as the people experiencing them want them to. Therefore, be visible, be diligent and be wary. Peter
#workers #pay #jobs #employers #employees A local company was looking for “medical professionals” for $12 to $15 per hour, according to an electronic billboard. Just down the street, at Buc-ees, they are paying non-professional labor up to $16 per hour. And, Buc-ees has 401(k) matches, paid time off and other benefits. It’s unclear what else you would get at the local company looking for “medical professionals.” This contrast illustrates today’s labor market. In fairness to the local company, it’s unclear what type of “medical professionals” they are looking for. If they are looking for nurses, for example, it’s doubtful in this market that any nurse would work for so little, unless there was some other, overriding benefit to working there. Buc-ees, a chain of highway rest stops that tout clean restrooms, loads of gas pumps, electric charging stations and an array of food and other items, is more like a Wal-Mart, in size and variety, than your basic convenience store/gas station. Buc-ees makes no bones about wanting to take care of its work force as best it can. More employers are encouraged – perhaps being forced – to be more rewarding to its workers, given the staffing shortages in nearly every industry. It’s worth noting that some of the higher paid professional classifications, as in technology and media, are laying off people these days. These folks are likely to land on their feet in this labor market. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the labor landscape perhaps forever. As businesses closed to prevent disease spread, workers lost their jobs in large numbers, or had to work from home. As they are now gradually coming back into the workforce and workplaces, they are re-evaluating what’s important in life. It’s dangerous, particularly for employers, to give workers a lot of time to think. The workers who are re-evaluating their situations are not, for the most part, lazy and just want to stay home. Their safety, their children’s education — kids had to go to school from home, too – and other factors are causing them to calculate whether what they were doing before Is worth going back to. As day-care options dried up during the pandemic, parents are now left looking hard for affordable child care, so they can go back to work. Couple that with new, post-pandemic demand for goods and services unavailable for a long time, and they add up to more choices for workers. More choices for workers mean more competition by employers. This is good for all concerned. Certainly, we are all paying higher prices for things largely because employers have to give workers more. But, in the long term, both employers and employees will benefit. Employers will have to try to find the sweet spot between not alienating customers with higher prices, and attracting and keeping workers. This effort should create better places to work, and, ultimately, better products and services. The employees will be compensated better on the job, although they may lose some that benefit through higher prices for things they need. Still, they will, as a whole, be better off in the long run than they were. If you are a worker, evaluate your options with care, now that you have more of them. If you are an employer, find that sweet spot quickly, hire good people and your business should thrive in the long term. Peter
#ComfortZone #StayInYourLane #competition #art #music #jobs #employment The age-old question constantly arises: should one stay in his or her lane, or should one get outside of his or her comfort zone? Perhaps it depends on the circumstance. There are certainly benefits for a person to do what he or she knows, and do it well. But, there are other circumstances in which a person should challenge himself, or herself, to do something he or she may have never done, or thought he or she would never do. As an example of the former, country music singer Blake Shelton, the outgoing coach on the TV singing competition “The Voice,” in the past has advised members of his team, such as some country singers, to stay in their lane. These singers may be competing with singers who can more easily extend their voices athletically to do things the country singers may be less willing, or perhaps unable to do. But Shelton understands that many of the show’s fans, who ultimately vote for the winners each season, like country music. So, Shelton may advise those singers to do what they do best, because the fans like that, and will vote for them. In the latter case, it’s tough to get noticed in the workplace if you are pigeon-holed into a job that limits what you are allowed to do. Certainly, employers may like workers who are “self-starters” that need little supervision. But if you aspire to bigger and better things, you may have to go outside of your designated area to show what you can do. In other words, you may be very comfortable performing the assigned tasks you are given. But, you may perform those tasks in obscurity, which may hinder your career progress. That begs another question: how does one know when to stay in one’s lane, or to get out of one’s comfort zone? The answer may come down to one’s gut feeling. It may also come down to one’s ambition. In the case of “The Voice” singers, one’s ambition can help them to win the competition. Because it is a competition, one may want to extend his or her talent to the fullest to win. But, because vocal competitions are an art form, rather than an athletic battle, it may be best to do what one does best, to the best of one’s ability. On the other hand, if you are stuck in a comfortable job but know you have the ability to go further up the ladder, you may have to extend yourself. You may have to look for things – perhaps extra things – to impress those who have a say in promotions. These extra things may not be easy to find. But, perhaps one must get out of his or her comfort zone to find them. The fact that a person left his or her comfort zone to do something extra will impress those who need to be impressed. By doing so, one becomes not only a “self-starter,” but also is motivated to take risks to show his or her talent that may not be obvious from his or her “comfortable” work. Circumstances dictate how one operates in life. Comfort may be nice, and appropriate in some instances, but sometimes going the extra mile is necessary to impress. If you don’t have the ambition to get out of your comfort zone, you may have to cultivate it. If you don’t, what’s comfortable now may become stifling in the future. Peter
#QuietQuitting #jobs, #employers #employees #GiveItYourAll The phenomenon is called “quiet quitting.” Workers do the minimum at their jobs so they can pursue other things outside of work. Michael Smerconish featured at segment on this on his CNN show Aug. 20, 2022. He interviewed a young engineer who was doing this at her job, so she could pursue an entrepreneurial side hustle outside of work. Smerconish asked her the obvious question, to paraphrase: if your side hustle doesn’t work out, how do you think your current, or future, employer will feel about you? Though it’s advertised as something relatively new in the workplace, it’s very likely that others have done this in the past. It’s been said that if a job were not work, they wouldn’t pay you. It’s also been said that a worker, particularly a young worker, should not expend the entirety of his or her energy at a job. Instead, he or she should do what he or she needs to do at work, and save energy for activities at home, hobbies or, yes, even side hustles. To be fair, some jobs pile more stress on workers than the compensation covers. Some employees resent that, but stay in the job anyway, for whatever reason. On the other hand, as an employee, you should feel enough dedication to your work, and, yes, to your employer, that you give that employer your all – within reason. Some jobs with narrow descriptions often expand into other duties, and an employee might resent that. “It’s not my job, man.” Still, employees should feel enough dedication – not obligation – to their employers to do what needs to be done, if they have the ability, even if the duties are not spelled out in a job description. Make no mistake: some employers will sense such dedication and take advantage of it. The solution seems to be an employer-employee relationship in which both parties are not just satisfied, but enthusiastic. The employee will do what is asked, expected and more, while the employer happily compensates them well. That compensation may not be entirely financial. It can include creating a work environment in which the employees feel not just appreciated, but cherished. The employer-employee relationship should be less transactional, and more of a bond. Such environments don’t exist everywhere. In fact, some may say such environments are rare. Today’s tight labor market makes it incumbent on employers to make their workplaces such that people want to come and stay. And, while they are there, the employees WANT to give it all they have. But, employees have a part to play. They have to create their own happiness at work. In some places, that is not possible. But, if the employer is making the effort to create a good culture, the employee has to make the effort to embrace it. There is nothing wrong with side hustles, or having cherished activities outside of work. But, if you have a job, give it your all – again, within reason. Another lesson here may be that if you are a “quiet quitter,” don’t advertise it to the world. Peter
#CollegeEducation #education #colleges #EducationDecisions Does one get a college education simply to get a good job? Or, does one get a college education to expand his or her mind, and learn to think critically? It appears most students today view a college education in practical terms: what’s the (employment) payoff at the end? But, should they? Maureen Downey, education columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, explored this topic in her May 10, 2022 column. Downey quotes from the book “The Real World of College: What Higher Education Is and What It Can Be,” by Wendy Fischman and Howard Gardner of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The authors accuse college of “mission sprawl” and abandoning their main purpose, which they describe as enabling students to analyze, reflect, connect and communicate on the critical questions they will encounter in their lives and in the world, Downey writes. “You go on a college tour and you hear about 100 different things,” Downey quotes Gardner. But what they don’t hear enough, in the authors’ minds, is how colleges develop the mind, Downey writes. “If students don’t leave college better thinkers, writers and communicators, the colleges fail their core mission, Downey attributes to the authors. Let’s break down what a college education is, and should be. First, let’s establish that no college education is wasted, if the student vigorously pursues his or her studies, regardless of what his or her major is. But, if a student, or his or her family, is paying dearly for that education, the student and family can reasonably expect a payoff at the end. Usually, that’s defined as a good job and career launch for the student. Worse yet, if the student incurs thousands of dollars in debt for that education, he or she had better have a good income to pay it back. Today’s political environment might describe what the Harvard authors say the colleges’ mission should be as “indoctrination” of a certain political position. Or, as Downey calls it, “political correctness and free speech.” A college education today also involves fun, new friendships, sports and other entertainment that can help mold a young person’s life. This begs the question: why can’t a college education accomplish both the academic and practical goals students may have? Certainly, some students’ studies can focus on critical thinking. Others can focus on the practical skills and knowledge that will help them launch the careers they want. It boils down to choices. A student first must figure out what he or she wants to do after college. That requires him or her to take a certain batch of core courses toward that end. But in every semester schedule, there are usually electives that a student can choose to take that may have nothing to do with his or her major, but are of personal interest. The smart student will choose those electives to help him or her develop his or her mind and make him or her a more well rounded, or well grounded, person. Remember, too, that a college education isn’t for everyone. So, students and parents must determine whether the prospective college student is suited to college and ready for college (academically and financially). The choices the student makes if he or she goes to college will determine how he or she uses his or her degree after graduation, and what kind of person he or she becomes. Peter