Management December 20, 2011 Last updated September 18th, 2018 2,587 Reads share

The Ghost of Business Past

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This is the time of the year where most people have moments of nostalgia; we look back on the past with Rose Tinted glasses and reminisce about the good old days, phrases such as ‘no school like the old school’ and ‘they were the good old days’ float around.

But what about the direction business and careers have made, are we better off today than in the halogen days of old?  Or should we take a moment to look back in order to learn from what was really good then and try to re-invent it in today’s modern workplace.

According to Aileen Murphy Zsenyuk, 75,  retired teacher and business manager for a group of physicians and Manager of KeepItTogether®KITs, one of the biggest changes that Business has seen over the years is technology.

“Computers have been a tremendous influence in the medical world.

I was amazed that the radiologists could be at home in bed and view imaging tests via computer. So patients could get expert, immediate care, even in the middle of the night. This certainly reduced cost, while improving care at the same time.”

Technology moves faster and faster

And of course this is so true, technology has changed so much over the years, in fact it seems to move faster and faster.

  • Between computers, the internet, mobile phones, wifi etc it’s hard to even recall a day when such things were unavailable to us.  But like anything there are pros and cons to just about anything, the pros in this case being that it’s easier to stay in touch with people today, we can connect online, text message, phone call, skype each other.
  • Computers have made work so much easier for people with new software’s coming out every day to assist and aid us.  When I was a younger woman I learned to type on a manual typewriter (a large noisy machine with no delete button), when one compares that to MS Word for example then its sure that modern technology is the clear winner.
  • Of course there are cons also, surfing the internet and online activities can waste so much of our days with not much result, it is important that we manage our online time well as hours can easily be whittled away.

Be careful what you share

Also be mindful of the type of information that you share about yourself online, (with social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google + for example) as what you share today can come back to haunt you tomorrow.  Many companies and would be employers tend to do an online search these days before they hire.

When asked if the way people interact with each other changed over the years, Sally Morrison, 52, Vice President of Sound Beach Music Store on Long Island, NY had this to say –

“Regarding how people interact with each other, I think it has changed for the worse.  I think some adults are more stressed out and therefore impatient, perhaps due to their own crammed schedules (including emailing, Internet use and working more hours and from home.)  We have customers who are rude or express anger freely which I partially attribute to examples of what passes for expression on the Internet (including anonymously) and the negative examples of some TV shows and talk radio.  When it comes to kids, there is less social (face-to-face and spoken) interaction and more by way of electronic devices and more use of electronic entertainment.  I think that impedes their social skills, such as being able to have conversations and to make eye contact.  Of course, these are generalizations and also, my interpretation of causes.”

Caring for customers

As Sally mentions these are her interpretations but she would not be alone, with many other interviewees stating that in their experience people are more impatient that in days gone by.  Another stated ‘the day of ‘the Customer is always right’ has been replaced with ‘who cares what they customer thinks’’.  If this is indeed the case then we need to sit up and pay attention, this surely cannot be the thinking that creates good business and customer care.

Increasing stress levels

And of course Stress is on the increase, with less jobs out there, increased living expenses, more and more personal time invaded by work (thanks to modern technology) and higher pressure to perform and deliver many of us are finding things a bit overwhelming.  Nancy Garberson, Precident and CEO of Marketing and Communication Strategies, Inc had an excellent point on the subject of stress –

“Maybe part of it is the economy, part the many different communication tools, and the steady demands of work. Everyone I know is doing at least three people’s jobs. Companies are trying to save money everywhere and its killing those who are on the job but we’re getting it done. It takes up more of our life, more of our family time, and more of our thinking than ever before.

I was at the airport last week flying to California to a conference and I stopped at the Red Carpet Club in Denver, between flights. I was standing with a group of people getting coffee when a phone rang and 10 of us grabbed for our phones while juggling coffee, yogurt and juice plus our briefcases, and some people were toting luggage. It made us laugh out loud. How silly we all looked digging for our phones. On a typical weekday, you’ll see about 2/3rds of the folks, on public transportation, with a laptop open, or at the very least, reading a blackberry.”

Take time out

Take timeout as in the years of old, before mobile phones and computers, tuck the laptop away at least one day a week, give yourself some time to rest and relax, your body and mind does need it, also spend time with the ones you love.  I do not know anyone who looks back on the past and says ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office’…

And I shall leave the final note to Aileen who extends her advice to those starting out in their careers today –

Do whatever is asked of you–cheerfully; you can always learn something from whatever you do. It will help you later on. Make friends with the shy person. Make friends with the new person. Make friends. If there is someone you really don’t like, make friends with that person. Never let someone know that you don’t like him/her. Do not waste your time and energy disliking anyone. It just creates stress for you and others. Simply work together to get the job done. Don’t be afraid to offer suggestions. Be honest with yourself. Be honest. Period.

What other suggestions can you offer from your own experience with the ‘good old days’?

“Image: Teen girls with mother decorating Christmas tree/Shutterstock.”

Catherine A Connors

Catherine A Connors

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