The word “unabridged” means complete and uncut – the full product, which has not been shortened, censored or decreased in size in any way. An “abridged” version suggests that you are just getting the highlights – a pick of some of the juicy parts, but not the whole picture, as decided by an editor for whatever purpose. An “abridged version” is typically between 25% – 75% of the original content and, if edited well, still maintains the thread of what was being communicated in the first place. It gives you key issues, but doesn’t give you all the issues. If edited badly, you may be missing some important facts or significant and impactful characteristics of the book or body of completed work.

Whilst thinking through these two words, it struck me that the words represent two kinds of employees – those that offer all of their gifts and talents with unbridled passion to employers, colleagues and customers (unabridged – the full package, unedited in any way) and those that limit what they give employers, colleagues and customers (abridged – withholding discretionary effort, some talents and a good portion of energy, typically editing this out as a result of being disgruntled, unhappy or angry).

I read a funny, “tongue in cheek” conditions of employment contract the other day, the sick leave portion of which was stated as follows:

We will no longer accept a doctor’s statement as proof of illness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work. Operations are now banned. As long as you are an employee here, you need all your organs.  You should not consider removing anything. We hired you intact. To have something removed constitutes a breach of employment” (Anon). Whilst humour was the intention here, there’s an element of truth – we do hire people intact, but many lose or deliberately leave their passion, creativity and energy at home. This is often as a result of some or more of the following issues:

  • Lack of trust in leadership – leadership behaviour that is not aligned to company values.
  • An environment where employees have no “voice” – ideas are not taken seriously, contributions are not acknowledged and concerns are not addressed.
  • Low engagement levels – little care is shown to employees and the prevailing attitude seems to be “we will tell you what needs to be done, not discuss the same with you”.
  • Abbreviated or manipulative communication – too little discussion about current and future direction or threatening words used to get things done.
  • A highly politicised environment – power and position dominate leadership tactics rather than interdependence, collaboration and quality relationships.

Whilst managers have a responsibility to engender trust, create an environment of contribution and recognition and engage employees, employees can do much to influence their own growth positively, no matter the environment:

  1. Focus on self-development – read, study and further explore your field of expertise. Become the best you can be.
  2. Appoint a personal coach – coaching, with relevant feedback, holds you accountable and accelerates your growth.
  3. Seek out opportunities to use your skills and talents – the more you use your giftedness, the more doors will open for you.
  4. Develop your relationship with your boss – a trust relationship offers the platform for you to address your concerns with your manager.

In spite of others seemingly holding you back, you can work towards an unabridged professional version of yourself – a version that is not dependent on what others may think of you or say about you. This version exploits all your skills and talents, creating the possibility of accelerating your career.