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I believe there was unethical and mischievous behavior from my previous employer that really damaged my employee-employer relationship. It happened quite a long ago, but I still can't achieve the same level of motivation I had before. Every time I feel motivated, the thought of that bad experience strikes me and I can't go on. One thing I learned is that I cant' believe an employer and I think that's the problem. If I can't believe, then I can't commit to our common success and be motivated.

So, what I need is to get to some middle ground where I am fully aware of what may happen and skeptical about any words and promises and also I'm fully motivated towards the common goal. But I can't be motivated towards the goals of the one who I believe can make harm to me. Also I can't set a correct divide between current and previous employer. I think business is business and, well, any employer can do unethical things if it's in their interest. So, there is no such thing as good ethical or unethical employer, it only matters how prepared you are. Is there something that can help in this situation?

  • -1 for So, there is no such thing as a good employer This is very much not true and requires you to accept that there is no such thing as a good employee. If you do that then your problem is your perception not the employer. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 28 '12 at 12:49
  • @Chad I modified that vague phrase. – user1519 Jun 28 '12 at 13:19
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    There certainly are both ethical and unethical employers. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 28 '12 at 13:29
  • @Chad sure. I just wanted to say, that general idea of business is making a profit. All other things are circumstantial. – user1519 Jun 28 '12 at 13:51
  • @gasan 1) Legally acceptable 2) Profit 3) Circumstantial... Companies tend to value their own survival over profits, not abiding by laws, regulations, and mutual contracts can very easily destroy a company. In lean times they focus on existence over distribution of profits. A clearly defined employment contract with an employee is one such mutually beneficial contract that a company is obliged by. This is not circumstantial. – maple_shaft Jun 28 '12 at 15:10
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Decades ago there used to be an implied contract between the employer and the employee. The employee would exhibit loyalty and have long tenure, while the employer did their best to keep the employee happy and employed.

We live in a very different world today, one in which employers made the first move to destroy that common trust that was once shared between employer and employee. For employees to survive without getting taken advantage of they need to be:

  • Adaptable

  • Flexible

  • Posess strong skills and abilities that carry across companies

  • Self-training (employers used to train employees, not anymore, that is your responsibility now)

  • And most importantly ...

Be Skeptical

Maintaining a skeptical yet positive attitude when dealing with employers is the best mindset to adopt. Being skeptical and secretly questioning what is being told to you by your employer is the best way to avoid being caught off guard, and also to begin noticing patterns of unethical and mischievous behavior to prepare for when the employer is probably going to attempt to take advantage of you.

Acceptance

Our global society has adopted the nearly universal mindset that competition is the single most important drive towards the human good that can be, or has ever existed for all time forever and ever, despite if you believe it or not. Competition had the unfortunate side-effect however that employees can no longer trust that employers will make committments to anybody but their shareholders anymore for short term profits.

Acceptance that the employer has no committment to you will help you focus on concrete facts, legal agreements and contracts as the means to ensure that your employer will do right by you, and you will have it on paper exactly what you should come to expect from that relationship.

DO NOT take a verbal promise from an employer seriously. If it is not on paper, signed, and possibly notarized then the agreement does not exist. Don't be disappointed if it doesn't work out.

ALWAYS HAVE SOME POTENTIAL OPPORTUNITIES IN ARMS REACH! It is hard to know when working for that employer will become unbearable, so the most empowering way to protect yourself from employer abuse is to constantly have one foot out of the door. I like to keep close relationships with former coworkers and business owners and at any one time I have at least a couple of openings that I could interview for immediately.

Employers may no longer give us dignity or respect, but if we work hard at it, then we should put our freedom as the single most important ability to work for in our careers.

Positive Mind Set

This comes with understanding and comprehension of how to best maintain control of your carreer in a chaotic unfriendly world. Achieving that career freedom, mobility, and independence is empowering and is the single thing that will give you a positive mind set.

You can't depend on an employer to give you a positive mind set, you will always be disappointed and depressed if you do.

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    This is one of those answers I wish I could upvote multiple times. All good points, especially that options give you power. – pdr Jun 28 '12 at 11:34
  • +[lots] As an IT development worker, I find all of this to be very valid. Magisterial answer. – EleventhDoctor Jul 28 '15 at 16:38
  • To add, I find "Sure. Can you please send me a copy of that in writing?" the best approach. If there's any hesitation, you know there is a problem. If it's being offered to you legitimately, there should never be any issue with putting it on paper. – Basic Nov 14 '15 at 23:35
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The only person you are harming with that attitude is yourself. Letting a good or a bad employer dictate whether you are motivated to do what you are being paid to do is short-sighted and self-defeating. You need to perform to the best of your abilities for the sake of your own career. Especially now that companies are no longer looking for long-term employees the way they used to do just a few years ago (well OK 30 years, that seems like just a few to me). Suppose you were hiring. Would you prefer the guy who did a bang up job at a bad company or the guy who gave up on himself and didn't bother because things weren't perfect? They aren't perfect anywhere. (Although certainly some employers are far better than other employers.) So by losing motivation because you had a bad experience is harmful to your own long term prospects of staying employed.

Of course as an old person, I find this whole idea that you have to be motivated to do your job to be ridiculous. You are paid to do your job. A professional therefore does what he or she is paid to do. Even when he isn't in the mood today. Even when she is mad at the company. Even when the work is dull. Even when the working condtions and benfits are less than ideal. Even when things (like salaries) are unfair. That doesn't mean you have to just put up with things. You can seek to improve your workplace or you salary or find other employment, but as long as you are being paid to do a job, you are obligated to do it.

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    +1 Above all else we should strive to be professional. Whining about your current situation is NOT PROFESSIONAL. Actively seeking to improve upon it and empower yourself to make your poor situation better is what leads to fulfillment. Acceptance of events outside of your control is also fulfillment. – maple_shaft Jun 28 '12 at 15:13
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First, the other answers about the nature of 'employment at will' in the current world are correct. The company as an extended family is a mostly dead concept these days.

Be that as it may, let us think a little deeper rather than just moaning about the good old days.

Pilots have a saying: "Nothing is more useless than runway behind you".

You had a bad experience, but it's behind you. Forget about it! It's runway behind you!

This may sound odd, but you could do worse than read up on a little Zen philosophy.

There is a concept in Zen called The Beginner's Mind.

The basic notion is that if your mind is full of thoughts and ideas about your prior experiences there just won't be room to learn much from a new experience.

Your mind is so full of anger and regret about that bad job that you are not able to function to your fullest potential in the current position. Try to discipline yourself to learn from the present and look to the future.

Beginner's mind is a discipline of not looking back when you need to go forward. Once you grasp it you'll find it helps you in many walks of life.

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