When I reflect upon my most frustrating experiences as an employee, having to coordinate 2,000-piece mailings by myself or traveling to make a scheduled presentation only to find that the venue was moved and nobody bothered to tell me, do not spring to mind.
I’m not easily irritated, and though those issues were definitely ones that could have, if the conditions were ripe, tap danced on my last nerve when I was having a particularly stressed day, I always managed to keep my cool. After all, it’s “small stuff”, right? At least that’s what the late Richard Carlson, author of the “Don’t Sweat” book series built his publishing empire upon.
Funny thing about small, though. Under the right conditions, some small things can grow, especially when they keep happening over and over again. And under the right negative conditions, like deliberate avoidance and neglect in dealing with persistent, challenging issues, those small things can grow to monstrously expansive girths.
They can create a work environment rife with feelings of disrespect and devaluation, all manner of distrust and alienation, and even sabotage. It thwarts performance and productivity, lowers morale and renders creativity impotent.
Please forgive the tone of the references, but there’s no better time than right now to be this real. The fact of the matter is that as we’re still caught up in the splendor and wonder that is representative of this time of year and we’ve taken a break from work and its woes to bask in it, many of us will be going right back to varying scenarios of the theme I described in just a few days.
New year, S.O.S. Bummer, I know.
But maybe it doesn’t have to be. How about taking the time now to think about making, not yet another New Year’s resolution, but a revolution in thought and action about how you can use the following three approaches in dealing with a challenging work environment, no matter how small or large a position of influence you hold in your NPO.
1. Lead: Can you find or create opportunities to inspire, motivate, serve as a role model, and build learning environments that help others embark upon personal development endeavors free from criticism and ridicule? I attended an event recently where the speaker challenged us to change our own life trajectory by simply showing faith in other people’s ability to do the same. “If you believe in them, then they’ll believe in you and in turn you’ll believe in yourself,” was the basic message.
Perpetuate this cycle, and see if you don’t find that the stronger, more confident your belief is in yourself, the stronger, more confident your belief will be in them.
2. Manage: Can you find or create opportunities to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and execution of any coordinated processes you’re involved with? Provided your office culture doesn’t require you check your brain at the door, think about ways these processes affect you and the people you work with then make some innovative tweaks where appropriate. Is there a way to perform routine tasks better? Faster? Cheaper?
Challenge your presumptions about what can and should be, build your strategic thinking muscle and stop suffering under mediocre.
3. Support and/or follow: While this may be the role you have already, are there opportunities for you to not only follow, but support the person in charge or effort being managed even more vigorously than you have in the past? Lead people.Manage tasks. Support vision. This can be a tough one, especially if you have some fundamental disagreements with the “why” of things.
You may have to talk yourself into understanding the why, or simply make peace with it, but as I’m always inclined seek the benefits as opposed to detriments of the why, seeking opportunities to assist others can help in building skills and camaraderie, two benefits that may well make the why mute.
Do you have any other ideas on how to turn your New Year’s resolutions into revolutions? Please share them below.