Operating with Imperfect Information

Jobs are treated as rigid relationships because that illusion of constraints is easier for management. The yearly ritual review is there to solidify that falsehood. Both worker and manager agree on a narrow scheme of evaluation for a minimal raise disconnected from real issues concerning the business or worker.

Were allegiance to this fiction doubted, or the rituals mocked, pesky workers would curiously unravel supposedly firm assumptions about the job to see how much they could stretch.

With a new job, you have the benefit of engaging innocently with few assumptions. You reckon they have some system for performing sensible work, but that’s no sure thing, and there is openness to partnership to develop it thoughtfully with shared responsibility and mutual benefit. You don’t know their salary range, which can normally be exceeded for a promising proposition, nor how many days of vacation they can be convinced to provide, with greater offerings available to particularly desirable candidates.

You are operating in the dark. Most companies reveal little and anecdotal information from others often provides minimal insight about what is possible and what the conditions are for recreating it for your case, which is all that maters. When you don’t need the particular job, you can maximize professional aggressiveness to extract the best offer possible.

When you tell a job you are ready to quit, you communicate willingness to lose everything. This calls bluffs, and suddenly the supposed rules are replaced by negotiated flexibility. You might get a sudden offer for a raise or other accommodations not previously available. The only thing that has changed is your willingness to leave.

The job that supposedly can only be performed between certain hours can be suddenly open to off-hours or weekends. It’s a full-time job, but it turns out they will be happy for you work it just a few hours a week because having a little done is better than nothing.

If you are a specialist, they won’t be able to find a replacement for your quickly, yet work they are depending upon must continue to get done. They won’t be able to get someone familiar with the specifics or complexities of the work environment for many months, so keeping you around for a while is to their benefit.

Our challenge is understanding systems with imperfect information. From just a few hints and our own considerations of the game, we have to understand how the job actually functions from an operational perspective. What process for checks and balances do they utilize? How do they make money, and how do their business processes map to that? What immediate and intermediate problems would your absence cause until they could find a suitable replacement?

An employee and owner can ideally share a similar understanding of the potential loss of your skills, and your ability to hold things together. In such cases, there is flexibility for space facilitating a new understanding of how you can work together for maximal value.

Left alone in the dark, you have to find your way around your workplace and consider the future. Often what makes the most sense is to get a fresh start elsewhere. As you negotiate a new reality for a spot at new company, you see you were trapped in illusion by fake constraints that ultimately were a disservice to all involved.

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