I figure I covered all the generations usually found in an office environment in the two previous blogs. The good and the bad of all. Millennials and their ideas, their energy, their ability to bring us all, kicking and screaming, to the next level. Gen X’ers and the Boomers, their wisdom and experience, knowing how to apply the ideas in order to, successfully, make the journey forward.
Consider the amount of time that is spent, constantly, exposed to co-workers with no relief. Even in the lunch room, you are surrounded by the same folks you see every day of the work week. Hell, we don’t even spend that much “close up and personal” time with our own families.
This type of social interaction requires a whole new set of coping mechanisms. We cannot choose our co-workers and let’s face it, simply because we all work together, doesn’t mean that we, automatically, like each other. A workplace is a huge old pot into which we are all thrown, by necessity. Some ingredients are never going to get along – garlic and vanilla ice cream, for example. This doesn’t have to mean that the workplace must be a source of ulcer causing conflict. It can be done, if folks simply man-up and get over themselves.
We aren’t in the work environment for our own pleasure. We are there to do a job, a job for which we are all paid and on that topic? How much we are paid is NOBODY’S business. RULE #1: NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, EVER, discuss your salary with anyone. Just don’t. It is stupid and will always, I do mean, always, cause trouble. You don’t have to be rude, just explain that this is a subject that you do not discuss with anyone but your bank.
If your work environment is hell? Figure out why. If there are ways to improve it, do so or shut up. If there is no fixing it? Why, the hell, are you still there? And yes, it is that easy. Find another job. Lower your expectations of compensation, if necessary. No one is put on this earth to be miserable and in doing so, making everyone around them miserable.
What do you have going on, outside your workplace? Are you racing around, driving kids here and there? Cut it back. Your kids won’t suffer irreparable damage if they don’t have an activity every day or every second day of the week. Set aside time for yourself. It isn’t selfish. It is a necessary survival tool. If you like perusing the local book store – go – peruse your little heart out. If you like just sitting by a river or a lake, and vegging on life – do it. Did you sew, knit, crochet? Did you tinker with engines, wood or metals? Set aside some time for yourself to tinker, knit, crochet or saw again. Give yourself something, to which you can look forward, outside the workplace.
I love online gaming; I try to set aside some time for that. I like to blog, obviously, and I also try to set aside some time for that activity as well. It gives me something outside the pressures of the office and that includes trying to find a place where I can get along with my co-workers… This is not easy. Sometimes the social interaction is more stressful than the actual job itself. I get that. I really do.
Frankly, I’m not a people person. I’m not overly fond of our species. I also struggle, ever day of my life with shyness. Considering what I do? It is pretty freaking ironic, when you get right down to it. Unless I truly know a person, I am intensely uncomfortable with the whole social thing. I’ve found tools to deal with it; I’ve created a work persona and the real me. The two interchange as soon as I pull into the parking lot. I think I can say, safely, that there isn’t a person at that office who knows who I am…really. And, to be honest, it is exactly how I prefer it. My life outside of work is my life OUTSIDE of work. Conversely, my family and friends don’t know who I am at work, either. I keep the two separate. Each one contains pieces of the other because, well…I’m not schizophrenic and there’s only room for so much division before it gets downright weird 😉
My choice had to be, either develop the skills necessary to survive in the workplace or find an oubliette to re-appoint, somewhere. I go in to the office and I try to find things that will lighten the atmosphere, to bring a sense of belonging to everyone. I can’t do much, I am but a peon but I do what I can. I send out, for example, a daily update. I try to include a funny graphic and one or two interesting, industry, specific articles, sometimes a funny anecdote that I’ve come across online, an announcement of who is in and who is away, perhaps a birthday or holiday greeting. It ain’t much, as I said but it is SOMETHING other than whining, bitching and complaining about work, which can get really old, really fast as well as being detrimental to everyone, everything around you.
Whining and complaining ACCOMPLISHES nothing except to exacerbate your own misery. Everyone would rather be home, everyone would rather be doing something else and everyone tends to feel as if corporate doesn’t give damn (and they are right) but this is our problem. It isn’t a burden that we should be foisting on others. Even the bosses, believe it or not, feel the same – perhaps even more so as they never truly leave the office, not in this day in age of Blackberries, e-mails and last minute conference calls.
We all need to develop our own coping mechanisms. We all need to find some way to improve the office environment. If you gossip? STOP IT!! If you constantly seem to be finding fault in others? Stand in front of a mirror – you ain’t all that either. I’m sure you drive someone else up the wall with your condescension. If you are in charge of a team? Remember, it is a team and you aren’t god. Work WITH your team. Stop finding fault and start TRULY acknowledging when they are doing a good job. It’s called “positive reinforcement”. Why should anyone give 100% when it is never acknowledged or if acknowledged, once in a blue moon? A simple “thank you” can go a very long way. My own boss is fully aware of this. As a result? I would move mountains for him, if required. I know that this may very well be a management tool that he used but I don’t care. It makes me feel better and as mentioned, the end result is a total loyalty toward him and by extension, the corporation.
C.E.O’s, VP’s, managers and supervisors: if you don’t get 100% from your team(s) – it isn’t them, it is you, who is ultimately responsible. Take a look at what you are not doing, with regard to positive reinforcement. Do you send an e-mail of thanks? Do you praise them openly? No? You lack what is required to be a true leader. Get with the game.
The workplace is our home away from home, like it or not. We can either examine how to make it better or we can wallow in self-pity and kill ourselves with stress and unhappiness. Choice is all our own. Learn to work with co-workers, try to override the annoying little quirks of the generations. Find a common ground and move forward. This isn’t high school. This is REAL LIFE and we are all responsible for its quality. It isn’t anyone else’s call – it is our own.