Transaction or relationship?

2006

Here's a question for you. When you decide to work for an organisation, what's the deal?

When I say 'what's the deal', what I'm really asking is what's the nature of the transaction? After all, it is a transaction of sorts isn't it? They will pay you money to do a series of tasks which they will specify and you will diligently complete those tasks to the best of your ability in the time allowed.

Strictly speaking then, that makes it a transaction... of sorts, doesn't it? Well, yes, I can hear you say, but there's a lot more to it than that; and you're right, of course there is. The trader (or organisation) will always look for the best possible deal to optimise their investment and will always play on the employee's sense of goodwill and fairplay to deliver way and beyond what the terms of the transaction call for.

I've lost count of the number of times that I've met people in a new job who spend their first 100 days desperately proving to their employer that they've made a good investment.

Why? Surely both parties have entered into the transaction having completed their due diligence on each other. Surely they are aware of their various strengths and weaknesses and fully cognisant of what they are buying, in the organisation's case and what they are selling, in the employee's case, right...?

Wrong. Sadly this isn't how it is in most cases. The transaction just isn't clear from the start and in almost all cases errs in favour of the buyer and not the seller.

Given that this is almost a mirror for what passes as commercial reality these days, perhaps we shouldn't be all that surprised. But what does continue to perplex me is the constant surprise expressed by both parties when the transaction breaks down because of an inequality that was always present at the beginning.

Choosing the right organisation is not so much a case of feeling gratified for being selected. It is much more of an appreciation of what you want from them, over and above what you know that they want from you.

They do, after all, want you to perform a series of tasks, against which you will be measured and for which they will pay you money; that's understood and that's all fine and dandy. But until such time as you determine what it is you want from them, it will always be and continue to be, an unequal transaction.

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About The Author

Charles Helliwell
Charles Helliwell

For almost 20 years, Charles Helliwell has been enjoying a lifestyle and making a living as a behavioural and relationship mentor specialising in the personal and professional development of individuals and teams in the workplace.