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How to Future Proof Your Career Against Ultimatums Like the In-Office Edict from Elon Musk


What would you do if you were faced with a "take it or leave it" announcement that dramatically impacted your job and work life?

Elon Musk reportedly sent an email to Tesla’s salaried employees requiring their physical presence in the office ... or else. This ‘take it or leave it’ edict raises an interesting career management lesson and question.

How immune and resilient would you be in the face of the "comply or resign/take offered severance" scenario. 

This isn’t far-fetched. Here are some common scenarios:

1: Your flexible/hybrid work status-quo (or some other component of how you do your job) could disappear if more companies follow the lead of Mr. Musk.

2: Your job could be physically moved to another location requiring relocation or a longer commute.

3: The content, responsibility, or focus of your role could shift towards something you didn’t sign up for, are at odds with your values, or aren’t excited about.

4: Reporting structures, people (new manager), or resources change in a way that you see as a negative for your career or well-being.

How to Future Proof Your Career Against Ultimatums

What would you do if it happened to you tomorrow? Here are 4 questions to help parse this …

1: What’s the level of impact on your career, well-being, personal life, etc?

  • A hypothetical question now so difficult to answer in advance

2: How much do you want to continue working in this organization?

  • A question you can answer now. How enrolled are you in the mission? How close are you to your colleagues? 

3: What is your level of confidence that you could generate a new and better job/work alternative?

  • A question you should answer now. This gets to the perceived degrees of professional freedom you have. Your career capital or market power. Your market readiness. The state of your professional reputation, network and conduits to opportunity.

Question 1 is important.

Question 2 is telling. Hint: If you’re not excited and enrolled in where you’re working, start planning to improve that.

Question 3 is foundational and the long game.

There’s so much out of our control. The economy. Acquisitions and mergers. Changes in leadership. New strategic directions.

Pay attention to what you can control by putting energy and intention into your professional journey.

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