Most of us who work at something do so because we need the employment. Whether you’re busy at something you view as
I have been in the workforce since I was 12 years old, picking strawberries and later shearing trees for Christmas, in the Pacific Northwest. My first actual job, as opposed to temporary seasonal work, was Bob’s Big Burgers where I wasn’t fast enough on the line and politely let go. I worked at Moto Photo 3 times (back when folks with cameras needed film developed), Richland College Planetarium 3 times performing laser light shows (great gig!) and finally Sprint 3 times where I had planned to retire but was part of a massive lay off instead. Interspersed with Sprint, I worked as a radio announcer with a smattering of acting & photography work. Everybody would always hire me back when asked which made me feel I was a fairly adept employee to have around. At 58 things are different than they were in my 20’s and 30’s out job seeking. But the mentally
My work philosophy has always been to do my best, have some fun, be easy going as possible and in general, endeavor to get along even with people I might not otherwise have ever had the opportunity to associate with. Being thrust into different walks of life and people is a great educational experience. It is great to mix with one’s own, but also to diversify, just as you would any of your other assets.
It has always puzzled me when co-workers preferred to stir the pot, rather than try and get along. Each of us has our own crosses to bear and we don’t really know what all is going on inside an individual so erring on the side of compassion, is the best option. Being of diverse backgrounds, personalities and predilections IS what makes all this great! The problems arise when we have imbalanced personalities, insecurities, judgments, ego and stress thrown in the mixture as well as folks who plainly should be on meds.
I have learned exactly 3 things that are a job requirement with any company you work at. 1) Perform your job well. Fix what you break. Own your failures as well as your successes here. 2) Absorb and honor the culture, and just like people, every corporation is different. Learn it and abide. The dude abides. 3) Get along well with everybody else. Those you cannot tolerate, keep as far away from as possible without it looking obvious and conduct all business briefly as feasible and politely. Humor goes a very long way to making all of this happen. However well you do your work, you are replaceable. If you are tenured at some place, please enjoy that feeling because as soon as you start somewhere else, you will feel a culture shift that, unless you’ve been job hopping for years, will come as quite a shock. I don’t understand this but sometimes when new folks come on board, the people who have been there a while, rather than welcome you with open arms, want to size you up and judge and get sometimes intensely combative and defensive, as if you are there to take something away from them. At least this is what I experienced and I am still scratching my head over it.
Agendas – What is your agenda for working where you do? What motivates you daily? For me, I have always come to work with only one agenda, to do the work well. After being fired at Bob’s Big Burgers, I never wanted to ever be fired again so I aim to work well with others and do my job. I have never wanted the spotlight, to derail someone’s career, to one-up anybody or cause needless harm and chaos. I have never felt the need to scream insults at someone or single anybody out and make them look bad to pump myself up. I have not once not ever, called someone up in the middle of their work day to shout threats at them as happened to me in my last corporate job. I am full of flaws so I tend toward helping people rather than be the stone that weighs them down or in any way
In my 4 decades of working, I have encountered some very challenging people. From sexual harassment to jealousies, and pettiness, a few very angry people and much ego. Many have been clients where I had to be exemplary in handling them while maintaining composure. For the last 20 years, I was a project manager over implementations (IPM) over voice and data networks for Strategic and Enterprise accounts. As much as I loved my role, it was mostly very imbalanced in the hours worked which brought out many personality quirks not to mention health issues. My superpower was taking an upset client and turning that relationship around. I usually got the worst cases to turn around and accomplished this, to the point of Sprint winning Vendor of the Year from Overhead Door, as just one example. While many people shy away from angry customers, the reality is that most upset folks just want a partner in the business that will hear and understand them and what they want, speak the truth so they aren’t blindsided, while also putting all efforts into meeting all the goals if at all possible. The 12+ hour days took its toll on my health. I manage an ongoing swallowing disorder (achalasia) due to all these years full of long hours and stress. When I took early retirement there, my goal was to put calm and my health as a priority and not work more than an 8 hour day. 8 is enough already. Corporations get greedy.
Wherever you go, there will be the slackers and the over-achievers and those that do their job well, but never push the boundaries to go over and above. You are never going to change that or them. You can only control yourself.
Through networking, I ended up with several
3 months later, 3 additional folks were hired and us new folks were asked to train them while we were all still learning. This was a HUGE corporation yet there were no M&Ps, no training documents, only a Client Handbook that, while filled with great info, was absolutely NOT a training tool. I did what I have always done in new work situations; I created a cheat sheet on all the steps to do my work and added to it as I learned more. I created this cheat sheet so I would not miss a step. I liked this job and intended on keeping it. The 2 folks training us in between their work, took offense that I would create a cheatsheet and refused to review it for accuracy. When we new folks began training the other 3 that had just walked in the door, with no corporate training tool to use, I was asked to share my cheatsheet. This turned into an ego blast where, rather than being happy the new folks were trained rapidly, in a matter of days by using this cheat sheet as a training tool, instead I got screamed at for several minutes in a phone call that was so unprofessional and crazy, threatening my job, calling me insubordinate and shutting my every syllable down. I decided the best course while I had my ass handed to me, was to just go
As we newbies began getting some work, one of the individuals began clashing with everyone else. We’ll call him Howse. Howse wanted to spend an exorbitant amount of time deliberating on every little
Above all else, always remain calm. Both with this phone call and when Howse was yelling at me in my cubicle, just coming completely unglued because I simply asked him to step out of my cubicle and allow me to get my work done my own way, I refused to get angry or shout back. My personal MO has been to always remain kind.
If your corporation keeps the asshat, well, they deserve it! Move onward and upward. Don’t bother looking back and bemoaning fate. But, I do encourage you to see what part you took in it. You may not have known the morale or ethos going into the job but now that you have, think about what you did or did not do or say and make your own behavioral changes. For me, my change is to not be as patient with mentally imbalanced people. It can encourage their abuse and nobody deserves to be abused at work. Working for a living, whatever it is, is challenge enough. None of us needs to put up with rudeness and ego. There are ways to end a call, stop a person from jumping you in your cubicle every morning and to do this in a polite but firm way. And when that doesn’t work, get up and walk away.
Life is too short for unnecessary conflict. One of the things I learned when my mother got dementia was that stress and shock can bring it on. This can be a bad accident, such as breaking a hip, losing a loved one, a bad car accident or anything that seriously jolts you. They don’t know why but I think I do. I think the life most of us live is vastly removed from the life most of us were designed to live. The pace is fast, the work hours long and judging by what I see, the respect and compassion