I’m ashamed to say that it has been over a year since I have written words on this page. Life has been…complicated. At least outside of the office. However, I can confidently say that at work I have been intensely focused and productive and loving it. I come in every day, do my job, and do it well. That way, I can go home to my family with a clear conscience and a sense of accomplishment. It hasn’t been without it’s challenges though. In my workplace, I am a rare breed. Everyday I am surrounded by individuals who come into work for various reasons. One reason might be to prove something, one might be to get a paycheck, and the other might be to make friends. I cannot identify with any of these reasons. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy getting a paycheck, I enjoy having friends, and I can understand having something to prove, but I don’t think that should be your motivation for getting out of bed in the morning, battling through traffic, and making it to the office on your designated arrival time.
I believe that every employee should be compensated, but if that is your only motivation for going to work, you’re performance is only going to be sub-par at best. You are only going to do the required amount of work to get by, and even less if you can get away with it. This attitude also carries an element of entitlement. Any parents reading this may identify with having children who exhibit this attitude. It can be toxic in a work environment. This person will never volunteer to take on additional work or projects. They may commit to a project out of obligation but will never make a contribution. They are likely to fill the time at their desk surfing the web, watching Youtube videos, or chatting about random topics that have absolutely nothing to do with work. What makes this attitude more egregious for me is that this is a place where I come from. Years ago I worked for a company that left me a lot of down time. One of my fellow co-workers and I built high end workstations from spare parts, created a LAN, and used them to play video games for hours. Against each other! This was not the last time either. I can identify with this frame of mind, but the important thing is that I didn’t stay there. I recognized that a day in the office playing video games or watching movies left me feeling empty at the end of the day. I wanted something more.
I can also understand feeling like you have to prove yourself, and in some environments this can actually be necessary to get anywhere within the company. Especially, when the person is young and inexperienced (the rookie). Sometimes it takes a very driven person to get what they want and go for it, and not get left behind. However, often it can be taken too far. Sometimes this drive to succeed can mow right over everyone else along the way and make that person immune to learning some very important principals and gaining character. Principals like, learning that your point of view might not be the only one worth considering, everything does NOT need to be challenged or argued (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it), and lastly there is something to be said for “doing your time” at an organization. In other words, you already have a job here, what exactly do you need to prove? Just do your job and do it to the best of your ability. Be available, keep your eyes and ears open, and learn as much as you can from others.
Because of this toxic environment, I often keep my headphones on all day. Which is a shame, because occasionally a colleague will actually need my help or ask for my input on something work related. The problem is, I never know when the constant office banter will result in a new idea or simply a 20 minute discussion on where everyone else is going for lunch and what they plan on having. So, what can I do about it? I could continue doing my thing, with my headphones on of course. Or, I could take control of my environment. Take on more of mentoring and leadership role. Actually share with them my vision for the team and get their buy in. I could inspire them to join me on my quest for continual learning, improvement, and innovation and delegate tasks that will foster collaboration. Are there risks? Certainly! They could take all of my hard work and experience, and use it for their own gain. They could not be interested in adding on additional work. They could continue to derail productivity.
But, I have to try something. I’ll let you know how it goes.