Your Role in Dealing With a Challenging Workplace
I have been there too. You get the job that you have been anxiously anticipating and it seems to offer everything you ever wanted. Your boss seems to be supportive of you, and the team just seems to be gelling. Everything is great and then….it’s not!!
It reminds me of the time I went to a fast food restaurant and ordered a burger but when it arrived, it looked like an imposter “standing in” for the burger in the picture. For a second I thought about asking them if they accepted “Monopoly” money!!
I understand that every company has its challenges but there are times when a company is just poorly run and the leaders within it are not properly trained. Some companies are really great at creating fantastic first impressions but when habits set in, they are not aligned with what looks great on paper. The truth is that organizational values should mean something to everyone, but unfortunately, leaders don’t spend the time instilling these values because there is just too much work to be done. Nothing is wrong with getting things done, but the focus should also be on “HOW,” not just “WHAT” has to be done.”
The “HOW” actually increases the quality of the “WHAT”
There are many factors that make a workplace challenging and the symptoms may look like some of these:
- Employees don’t seem motivated and do not demonstrate their full potential
- Employees are afraid to speak up
- The leader/employee relationship is unhealthy
- The turnover rate is high
The fact is that these things occur more often than any of us would like, but all is not lost. The idea here is really to focus on things we can actually control. It’s what we do with the experience that matters.
Here are some possibilities:
1. Reframe the experience – How you feel at any moment is because of the story you are telling yourself. Be objective about what you can learn from any experience and then move on. These situations can provide clues to the powerful lessons they provide. For example, how someone is reacting may be because of something they are going through personally. Any negative emotion you feel can inhibit your potential to heal or move on.
Changing your perception of the situation will change how you “show up” in the interaction and how you “show up” can influence the behaviours around you, which leads to my next point.
2. Be assertive – I recently did a training session at a major oil company where a participant said that they are not allowed to be assertive at their company because it may be held against them. Does this sound familiar? My first question was; “are there no assertive employees in the company?” Please do not confuse being assertive with being aggressive. Saying what you feel is not the definition of assertiveness. I get this definition all the time when I do assertiveness exercises.
Assertiveness is the ability to express one’s feelings and assert one’s rights while respecting the feelings and rights of others.
In other words, it is about speaking up with the intention of creating a “win-win.” It is not always possible but it is always a good idea to at least aim for it when a situation calls for it!! It will increase your success rate in your interactions.
3. Look at yourself – Is it possible that you may be creating an environment around you that is dictating how others deal with you? What do you think happens to a “pushover?” Don’t be a professional victim. Ask yourself: “Is there anything that I could have done differently?”
On the other end of this, it could be that the work environment itself is hampering your expression. In that case, we need to go back to point 2 on assertiveness. Remember to focus on what you can control.
4. Forgive the “difficult” person – This is always a bit of a challenge and I don’t necessarily want you to get together and sing Kum Bah Yah, but forgive for selfish reasons, do it for YOU. If you think about who exactly is getting the short end of the stick when you don’t forgive. It’s YOU, not the person you’re interacting with. The company may not be holding others accountable for their behaviour. It happens, and it is not your fault but any frustration you feel can only inhibit your ability to move forward and it may even negatively impact the interaction you have with others.
This is a reminder that we must all protect ourselves in situations. If not, the long-term effects can be devastating. We cannot control everything but we have the power and choice to focus on what we can. It just takes a bit of self-awareness, a bit of courage, and a whole lot of commitment.
Tony Ragoonanan is the Founder of V-Formation Training & Development. As a Trainer and Performance Management Specialist, he helps individuals, teams, and businesses to align behaviours and goals, create the right organizational culture and maximize capability. Outside of this, it’s all about family, football, and fitness!!
868-681-3492 | firstname.lastname@example.org