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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Surviving the Workplace

Often our biggest problem at work is we care too much or, more accurately, we care about the wrong things.

Caring too much about the work and the organisation is fraught with danger. Caring for the people we work with and caring enough to do a good job—that’s a better estimation of care and a healthier scope.

But, it’s hard when our expectations aren’t met. We do our best only to find that ‘that best’ is not good enough; we’ve no idea why, but the evidence is before us; that person or group, or “management,” just flatly rejected what we worked hard to achieve. Never mind that it wasn’t intended personally—it gets taken personally if the feedback is meted out irresponsibly.

The Values Conundrum

An organisation can live by morally viable values, but it needs much focused leadership to achieve it. Few organisations can sustain this. Individuals on the other hand have their values—these don’t change so readily.

We can trust certain individuals, but ‘trusting an organisation’ is again fraught with danger. Our expectations are too high. Who is the organisation but a large bunch of people? Would we trust each one?

Most people would take a slight pay cut to work in a positive workplace with easy-to-get-along-with people. That is, they’d sacrifice a bit of themselves to work with people who have good values. Cohesion is more important than money.

The Caring Conundrum

As mentioned higher up, if we have problems at work it’s because there’s a misappropriation of our care. This is met with ill-considered expectations and the surprises we’re flummoxed by when our expectations aren’t met.

It’s better to train or discipline ourselves to care only for tangible things.

If we place our care in the persons we work with, and not because of the role they play, we’ll be helpful but without anything of the workplace environment swaying our thoughts and feelings, and therefore our words and actions.

Caring to do a good job goes without saying. That’s what we’re there for after all. This can be an insular activity for some, but for others doing their jobs well means lots of positive interaction and influence. This is where we again need to focus on the person and not on the role. When we consider that living, breathing, functioning people with lives, families and emotions make up the workplace we see what’s achieved by advocating a simple care that gets deeper than a normal workplace concern. Everyone has bunches of their own concerns.

Workplace politics: don’t let them get you down.

Organisation change: don’t let the change bother you too much—though it’s bound to trouble you more than you’d like it to.

Accept that in the workplace there are many things out of our control.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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