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Are You FUNGIBLE? (Hint: You Don't Want to Be in Today's Labor Market)

(NOTE: This article was originally posted in 2008. But given the amount of people who are looking for a new job, we thought it would be worth your attention today.) I just finished reading Business Week’s article entitled, “Management by the Numbers,” in which they review how IBM has been building mathematical models of its own employees with an aim to improve productivity and automate management. I’ll let you read it and draw your own conclusions, but I have to mention a new workplace term I learned that they’re using over at IBM these days. Fungible is a word used to describe workers who are “virtually indistinguishable from others” in terms of the value of their contributions in the workplace. You see, IBM’s study is enabling them to identify top performers from average ones, with the latter being fungible - and I would assume that translates into expendable as well. In a time were lay-offs continue to make the headlines, I guarantee management teams all over the country are getting in rooms and saying, “Who’s fungible on the payroll right now?” Okay, so they are most likely not using the term, but they are having that discussion, I assure you.

How To Be Indispensable (Not Fungible)

Employees must get on the ball and start doing two things if they want to keep their jobs: 1. Produce quantifiable results that tie to the financial success for the company, and 2. Market their success to those who determine if they are fungible. So, if you’ve been on autopilot when it comes to assessing your professional strengths, building your career identity, and marketing your personal brand (if you are unfamiliar with the career development terms I just used, suffice to say you’ve been on auto-pilot), then I encourage you to get started. It takes a lot more to get and keep a good job these days, there’s a whole new way to manage your career – if I may adapt the phrase, “It’s not your momma’s workplace.
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