If you want to feel empowered at work, an easy way to do so is to take ownership of the space you call ‘home’ in your workplace; that may be an actual office, a cubicle, a counter, cash register, or even a broom closet (not unheard of). You may work from home or a remote location. The point is, making your workspace your own, and ‘owning’ it, will create feelings of self-efficacy and more involvement in that work. It creates a psychological bond which leads to more commitment and overall job satisfaction.
Two years ago, while attending a conference, I had the opportunity to speak with the CEO of a large corporation who was sharing some really great results his team had from using some simple interventions aimed at getting them to take more ownership and to be more engaged in their work. One of the most impactful ideas, to me, was allowing workers to take ownership of their space; he related that they brought in tools and took down the walls between their cubicles so they could talk and interact more. Another successful idea was allowing these workers to redecorate the ‘dreaded’ conference room, the place where it created fear if you were called there.
The CEO related that the employees repainted the walls, brought in pictures and other items that made it more livable, so that now they refer to it as “my conference room.” That has stuck with me since that a very easy way to reengage workers and show them they are appreciated is so simple and inexpensive. It’s not always about the money. I think of how good those workers felt once the renovations were completed, and how closer the team were from their concerted efforts.
We all have the opportunity to make small upgrades to our workspace and feel more connected to the work we do. It starts with reframing our mindset and choosing to be more positive. Making a small change or addition, such as cleaning up the space, bringing in a picture or a flower, or other close item, can help you to feel more connected. If you like the beach, bring in a picture of a beach scene to help calm when you feel frustrated; a motivational quote or a picture that makes you smile are other suggestions. You may not have much control over your space but you do have the control, and the choice, over how you think about it – make the decision, make the choice, and see how you can take ownership of your work. One positive result? Loving (or liking) your job. (If you are the boss, then use these suggestions as motivators for your team.)
If you ever find yourself feeling out-of-line with your job and/or workplace, you might want to check yourself and see where you stand on your values as this is one of the biggest problems I see when I hear discontent in the workplace. When values clash, problems result.
Values can be defined as “important and lasting beliefs one has about what is good or desirable, and what is not; values have a major influence on a person’s attitudes and behaviors and serve as a guideline in situations.” (businessdictionary.com) Often, our beliefs are developed early and usually are those we take on from our family of origin; they can come from school or associations/clubs/groups we belong to.
The bottom-line is that beliefs are hard to change, so values lie deep and can cause friction or discontent when dealing with those who don’t share the same ones. In the workplace, values are often the mission statement and what the company stands for; however, leaders have their own as they manage the company or department which can lead to conflict. Coworkers and customers also have their own which can lead, again, to misalignment of some type.
The best way to deal with any misalignments that might lead to a level of unhappiness is to be sure you are aware of your values and how strong they are. Some values may be more strongly felt than others; for example, if your value is hard work and you see a coworker not doing their share then frustration will occur. If you’re not sure about your values, here are some samples to get you thinking deeper:
- Acceptance Determination Passion
- Abundance Directness Patience
- Accountability Empowerment Productivity
- Accuracy Enthusiasm Recognition
- Affection Excellence Respect
- Ambition Fairness Romance
- Awareness Flexibility Safety
- Balance Forgiveness Service
- Being the best Fun Strength
- Belonging Happiness Tact
- Bravery Harmony Thankfulness
- Capability Humor Trust
- Caring Independence Timeliness
- Calm Integrity Understanding
- Competence Kindness Wealth
- Competition Love
- Cooperation Loyalty
This is just a partial list but I’m sure this will give you an idea for you to check what your values are and how they may e leading to not just job unhappiness but to any and all relationships you have. Knowing this will definitely help to change your current status as well as ensure you find a company who ‘fits’ as you are in your job search. I encourage you to spend time uncovering your values and to look at situations that have been conflicted, even within yourself, to see when you might not have been honoring them. When you are aware and live by them, you will have career happiness. I’d love to see your thoughts on this!
Going to work and being present, or ‘showing up’ are two different things. Being present in your work means that you are:
- clear about the goals you need to accomplish
- understand the benefits of accomplishing them – not just to yourself but to the organization as a whole
- are engaged in those goals and the job tasks
- clear on which skills are advantages to you and you know how to use effectively
- being confident in your work
Studies out there (IOpenerInstiture.org) have found that people who are present, or engaged, in their work ‘show up’ an average of four days per week. Isn’t that good news? Unfortunately, these engaged workers are still only representing about 31% of the workforce (Gallop, 2015). It’s easy to conclude that they also are the ones ensuring the work gets done. These individuals get recognized more for more challenging projects, they are tapped for promotional opportunities, and they overall have more job satisfaction. Are you a ‘present’ worker? Here are some ways to tell:
- you wake up optimistic that you are going to have a great day ahead of you
- you have preplanned your day so you know which job tasks need to get done and which one you will tackle first
- you work to get along with your coworkers as best you can
- you don’t give in to negativity of those you around you
- you are cognizant of your skills and focus on which ones are needed to get the work done
- you recognize your accomplishments each day and build off them
- you leave work feeling accomplished, have planned for the next day, and leave the work there
Hopefully these questions will inspire you to reflect and answer them so you are ‘showing up’ at work every day!
If you want to become a more engaged or happier employee, or need help making a career transition, contact today for your Complementary Discovery Session at http://www.cyscoaching.com. Let’s make it happen!
I was chatting with a client the other day as to how things were going in their job – the good, the bad, the ugly. Overall, they were feeling ownership of their work as well as accomplished (the good). This person then expressed uncertainty over learning that their supervisor was leaving at the end of the week; they weren’t exactly sure the circumstances or reason for the departure but it was creating some anxiety and worry over the changes that would result (the bad).
As she discussed her concerns, she mentioned that this supervisor was not effective, more in the way she lead – controlling, demanding, uncertain at times. Then, she related that the resignation was probably due to one – or more – of her fellow coworkers who did not like this supervisor so they probably had something to do with this (the ugly).
As I explored this issue, my client felt appalled, no – downright disgusted – at the behaviors of these few individuals and their level of ‘meanness’ in going behind this person’s back and doing things that put them in a bad light. Have you ever faced a situation like this? How did it affect you and your work performance? Did you know how to handle it?
We don’t control other people or their actions – we only control ours. Dealing with vindictive coworkers can be challenging at best if you are around it as often they assume a power role in some way. They take risks to challenge and do it arrogantly; if the target is not confident or doesn’t like conflict then they are more likely to take a fall at the hands of these bullies. Watching this occur can impact you in ways you might not be aware of: worry it will happen to you, anxiety, feeling unfocused, or finding yourself aligning with them (so they don’t attack you).
The only way to deal with this is to not give in to the drama. Instead, place your focus on your work and your actions; by doing so, you will feel less stress while feeling more empowered by the good work you are doing. When these types of people find that they don’t have an ‘audience’ they tend to stop their bad behavior or they leave. Whatever they do is theirs to own not yours, so don’t allow a vindictive coworker to invade your space – be true to who you are and what you value. The other stuff tends to work out as it should.
The term, ‘psychological contract’ is not a new concept but is one that needs revisited. I think it can give a better understanding to what happens from the time one gets hired by an organization and those often unexplained assumptions that sometimes can lead to some type of conflict between the two. The psychological contract is the set of expectations that occurs between an employer and the employee regarding what each will do in their respective positions, as well as how they will perform them and how the employee is expected to behave within the work setting.
While that sounds as if it should be a given, it is not as there is often a disconnect when an employee begins working and the next few months after. I have spoken with numerous individuals who are looking for a new position but who have started the job fairly recently. Their reason is always, “I feel duped – they told me something different than what the job was.” Employers feel duped as well in that they hired on the individual at face-value but things began to fall apart. Why does this happen? It is really due to an unclear and unspoken psychological contract, with the both sides expecting certain behaviors, activities, duties, results, etc. but not being clear and open about them prior to on-boarding.
Usually, both sides are trying to present themselves in the best light; employers want to be seen as a ‘best business to work at,’ while the potential candidate wants to be seen as the person who will help them get there. While those skills and qualities look good on paper, in reality there is always a silent expectation of how things will be which may or may not jive. For the new hire, they are coming in to a culture that is already established; if this is not openly discussed with the potential candidate, as to how they will be acclimated in and how they can transition successfully, disaster will occur. One side, or the other, will soon become disillusioned and the employee will leave, either voluntarily or involuntarily.
My suggestion is for both sides to be open and transparent. For organizations, hiring personnel need to be very direct in how they view their current culture – even admitting shortcomings, such as fast-paced, conflicted, stressful, etc. – and how they will help the new hire to transition in and become successful as part of the new team. For potential candidates, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, even if it might mean you don’t get the job; there is nothing more miserable than being in an environment you hate, even if you love the job itself. You will become stressed, angry, and your performance will suffer.
Being really clear on the psychological contract upfront will ensure right candidates, right fits, right minds, and right performance.
I find that the majority of clients I work with are not unhappy with the job they do but they are miserable with their organizational life. Work-overload, deadlines, personal problems and worries over potential job loss all impact the workplace environment and can contribute to job dissatisfaction. One can be very involved in the job they do but not in the work environment, and vice-versa, which will affect one’s level of engagement and productivity.
Here is a quick exercise to help you determine your level of organizational satisfaction. Take a piece of paper and rate your level of satisfaction on a scale of 1 (completely dissatisfied) to 10 (totally satisfied); be really honest in your answers:
- Effective Communication – how well information is communicated and received throughout the organization, as well as in work relationships
- Creativity/Innovation – are employees allowed to use their creativity or is this thwarted; does the organization expand and change to adapt to current trends, or are they the innovators
- Fairness/Justice – are employees treated fairly and equally; are policies and procedures followed for all
- Measurable Impact – do assigned tasks have measurable outcomes and recognized, or changed, based on these outcomes; are employees recognized for the work they do that leads to significant outcomes/success
- Professional Team Dynamics – is the work-group structured in a way that all are contributing, using their skills appropriately, aware of the goals to achieve and communicating often and productively
- Effective Conflict Resolution – is the work environment open and allow for freedom of speech to recognize and then resolve conflict; are the policies and procedures clear, known, and followed fairly
- Motivation/Clear Purpose – do you feel you fully understand the job duties and work processes; do you have all the information or resources to do the job; does your manager/leader understand your motivations and provide opportunities
- Work/Home Balance – are you able to self-manage situations in your home life or work life that may cause you stress; do you often feel overwhelmed by the ability to get it all done; do you have outlets for relaxation, time management, support
If any of your answers fall in the lower range, take time to analyze areas or situations that are leading you to feel unhappy or frustrated; see what you can change and then take action. Doing so will help you to feel recharged and can decrease your feelings of stress while giving you a sense of mastery over your worklife. Your level of satisfaction will increase and so will your happiness.