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It is an unavoidable fact, working in HR means I’m often called in to help when someone is at their most unhappiest at work. They don’t agree with the direction or decisions from above, they are in conflict with colleague, they are resisting change. Whatever the reason, I see a pattern of behaviours that prevents them from moving forward into a (head) space where work becomes a happy place to be.
We can’t always control what happens around us, but we can control our reaction to it. Before you make the choice to leave, try these tips for reducing stress and increasing job satisfaction:
Be Future Orientated
We can easily get caught in the trap of dwelling on what happened in the past. We had a better manager then, things were less hectic, I worked with a better team. The world is ever changing, as is your workplace. If we plucked your workplace of the past and dropped it into now, it is likely to fail. Focus on the future and how you can get the best out of your workplace and your job in it.
Assume Best Intent
What starts as a misunderstanding, can quickly spiral into full blown conflict. Team members are getting pulled into the conflict and the whole focus of your workday can become about what that other person is (or isn’t) saying and doing. I have met very few people who are malicious, but I have seen a lot who behave badly when involved in ongoing conflict. If we assume everyone has the best intent, it forces us to step back and try to understand the situation from their perspective, and acknowledge that there might be unseen factors at play.
Having a growth-mindset means you understand that you have unlimited scope for learning and growth. In the workplace this will see you viewing obstacles as opportunities, embracing challenges, learning from feedback and finding lessons in your failures. A fixed-mindset often means you are defensive about your mistakes, you have a need to have status over others and you resist feedback. Which mindset would you rather have?
Work Has Meaning
The research shows that people tend “to experience their work as meaningful when it mattered to others more than just to themselves” (Bailey & Madden 2016). Your work doesn’t have to be about saving the world or finding the cure for cancer for it to have meaning. Knowing it helps make your customer’s day can be enough. It is easy to get buried in the day-to-day busyness of our work, step back and look for the differences your contribution makes.
When the culture is not great, one of the common complaints I hear is ‘they don’t tell us anything’. Often ‘they’ have many things on their plate and communicating every detail to every person at the exact right time is enormously challenging. Take responsibility for knowing what is happening. If you need to know something, ask. Yes it takes more effort than sitting back and saying ‘I didn’t know, s/he didn’t tell me’, but it will make you happier.
Gossiping has to be one of the most destructive behaviours in the workplace. It seems harmless, yet every time we have a conversation about someone behind their back, we are eating away at their credibility and their trust in us. Even if you are not the ‘gossiper’, you are encouraging the behaviour simply by listening. Walk away, find something more productive to do with your time.
Ask for Feedback
When was the last time you said ‘I never receive any feedback’? If you want to know how you are going, then ask! If you spent hours and hours on a project, not to hear if it was any good, then ask. If you think your boss is unhappy with how you handled a problem, then ask. If you can’t understand why you can’t close a sale, then ask. Seeking feedback is one of the most important ways to increase your self-awareness and increase your effectiveness in work and relationships.
Claire Huntington has over 15 years’ experience in senior and executive level human resource management and strategic leadership positions. Claire learnt HR under the wings of great mentors and through trial and error. She has a very practical hands-on approach to HR and management, and isn’t afraid to look outside the box. Claire is also mum to three primary-school aged firecrackers and is an avid photographer in her spare time.
Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.