Work Atmosphere

…to a remarkable extent, Google’s workers really do take “Don’t Be Evil” to heart. C-suite meetings have been known to grind to a halt if someone asks, “Wait, is this evil?” To many employees, it’s axiomatic: Facebook is craven, Amazon is aggro, Apple is secretive, and Microsoft is staid, but Google genuinely wants to do good.  (Source:  Nitasha Tiku, “Three Years of Misery Inside Google, the Happiest Company in Tech.” Wired, 8/13/2019.)

Can you define the atmosphere at your workplace in one word?  Okay, try three words.  If you know what the general attitude of your work environment is then you have taken a big step toward controlling your own attitude about work.  Performing successfully at your regular job or jobs goes a long way toward establishing your emotional health.  Showing up several days a week at a place that you subconsciously fear or loathe is not a good thing, emotionally and eventually physically.  If you truly experience fear at your workplace, it is time to change jobs.  Period.  If you hate your job – a common enough situation – then you should take steps to change.  Change jobs.  Change your attitude.  Change your level of performance.  Any one of these changes, some more challenging than others and none necessarily easy, will change the way you feel.

Take the first example: change your job.  This may seem the logical way out of a job you hate, but it may not be the best.  If you are not qualified or experienced in another field, then getting a different job is going to be tough.  If you get a similar job at another company, you may very likely end up disliking it as well because nothing has really changed except the sign above the door.  Review your analysis of the atmosphere at your current workplace.  Can you tell from the outside if the company you are considering moving to has a different atmosphere than the place you are at?  Job-hopping is not always a good solution to get away from work you don’t enjoy.

Second example: change your attitude.  Go back to your description of the atmosphere at the company where you currently work.  Now, do a little soul-searching and find three words that legitimately describe your current attitude toward life outside of work.  Do the words match up or are they distinctly different?  For instance, is your workplace sad or oppressive? Did you describe yourself as depressed?  There is probably a correlation.  Just as if you described your workplace as exciting and your attitude as optimistic.  The point is if there is an association between the attitudes of your work environment and your own attitude when you are not at work and that association trends toward the negative maybe you should work on the part you can control: your attitude. Make an effort to change your attitude about your job for one month.  Not the month in which you take a vacation or the most stressful work month of the year, like when the books close, the big show is scheduled, a new model is being released, or when the annual report is due – choose a regular depressing month at work.  Decide that you will make one beneficial, worthwhile contribution every day at work whether it is only saying or doing positive things in the break room, putting up some new photos or inspirational posters in your cubicle, helping the new hire navigate the system (whether this is in your job description or not), or even taking a walk at lunch instead of going to the same old deli with the same old co-workers and complaining about the same old things.  At the end of the month, be honest with yourself.  Did you make a valid and consistent effort to change your attitude?   Has your attitude toward your job changed?  If yes, you might try doing it for another month.  If no, you might try looking for another job or try number three.

The third example is similar to but not the same as the second: change your level of performance.  Again, choose a month in which to ascertain your success or lack of it.  Then go over your job duties, hopefully you have a written list of tasks you are supposed to perform.  You may even have scheduled goals for those tasks – daily, weekly, whatever.  If you have a performance checklist that your supervisor keeps, then this will be easy.  See where you get stars and where you get frownie faces.  Work on eliminating the frownie faces.  If you don’t have a performance checklist, then make your own.  Determine what you should accomplish at work each day/week and then keep track.  Obviously, the goal is to do all that is required of you competently and on time.  If you don’t do that, give yourself a frownie face.  The goal is to raise your level of performance as an evaluation tool for yourself.  Assuming you succeed in improving your work efforts, do a reevaluation of your attitude about your job.  Again, there may be a correlation.

Finally, if you have made a deliberate effort toward making one or all of these changes, do another evaluation of your work atmosphere.  What three words come to mind now?

image credit: hrzone.com

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