For many of today’s workforce a career means more than a stable place to work for 20 years. Employees today are looking at company values, meaning, community, and culture before diving into a new work environment. And with company culture becoming the hottest buzzword in the HR community, much of the workforce is now relying on the company to ensure their happiness and needs are met at work.
The truth is, a no matter how great a company may seem on paper or the vast amount of fun perks you’ll receive, it’s ultimately YOUR responsibility to make your workplace one that you love. And while it's hard to change the atmosphere of your company it’s entirety, you CAN influence the way others interact with you, thus altering your experience at work.
Below are 5 ways to start loving your work environment, everywhere you go.
1. Set Yourself Up for Success
"Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs." - Henry Ford
Excelling in your current role will lead to greater satisfaction. A part of feeling satisfied with your job is feeling like you're contributing to the bottom line and are not just working on tedious and mundane tasks. Try setting weekly to-do’s and then breaking them down into daily tasks to make them more manageable and less of a daunting list. While breaking down the list try to keep in mind two things: things that are urgent (time sensitive tasks) and things that are important (tasks for long term goals).
For example if there are emails that need to sent out or orders that need to be processed - get those done first. Once time specific tasks are done you’re able to spend time on important tasks that are focused on long term results. These tasks not only help your company but they also provide you the opportunity to work on tasks that are more creative, and (dare I say it) fun. These fun tasks will keep you motivated to get through the tedious day-today tasks and make you shine within the company as an asset.
Good advice I’ve received: Be the gap filler. If there are tasks that do not fall under anyone's job description, take it on. This type of activity shows leadership and does not go unnoticed.
2. Be a Team Player
Ever had a manager or team member who went out of their way help you when he or she did not have to? Chances are you have remained loyal to that person to this day. Jonathan Haidt at New York University’s Stern School of Business demonstrates in his research that managers who are not just fair but also self-sacrificing inspire their employees to become more loyal and committed themselves. As a consequence, these employees are more likely to go out of their way to be helpful and friendly to their managers, creating a self-reinforcing cycle. The same rule applies for peer to peer employees.
Providing support for one another, including offering kindness when others are struggling, is the foundation of a great team. Help your teammates, even if the help is not reciprocated at first. In today’s competitive environment it's easy to feel like you want to take all the credit for tasks, but it's important to share the glory and help your teammates shine. Why? Because whether you want to admit it or not there will be a time YOU need help, and who is going to want to help someone who only thinks about their own output? No one. People want to help others who have also helped them along the way. So sometimes you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and finish an assignment - and give them the credit. May sting your ego in the short term, but the long term impact of that help will provide returns 10 fold.
Good advice I’ve received: You can only take credit for great things you do when you take responsibility for mistakes you’ve made along the way. No one is perfect, acknowledging your mistakes rather than putting the blame on someone else on the team demonstrates that you are earnestly working to make things right. Plus, no one likes working with a know it all.
3. Don't take things personally
"I have never learned anything from any man who agreed with me." - Dudley Field Malone
Some people say this is terrible advice, but I beg to differ. You can be passionate about your work, and still be open to criticism . If you begin each task thinking that nothing will go wrong, you're fooling yourself. You will make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them. Change your paradigm, instead of getting upset because someone didn’t like your idea or the way a project was handled, try to understand where they are coming from and their point of view. Whether you agree with them or not you may come out of it with a piece of information you didn’t have to begin with.
So when someone is belittling your work, or questioning your method stop your first reaction and listen for understanding. Remember the benefit of getting feedback and when they are done with their comments ask questions to deconstruct their feedback. Asking someone to further explain themselves challenges them to dive deeper into their thought behind their criticism and they may even realize their doubts were built on a weak foundation.
Good advice I’ve received: The best people are self aware and self critical, not arrogant.
4. Be adaptable
We all start new positions with a preconceived notion of what will be expected of us (hence a job description). However as the business continues to grow, more assignments will be handed out your way, which could lead to many feelings of frustration for having to take on tasks that you were previously not responsible for. Instead of taking on these tasks with feelings of frustration, tackle them head on and look at it as a new learning opportunity and a new bullet on your resume.
In today's ever changing business world, being adaptable is something most businesses rely on to stay competitive. In many cases to survive, businesses must be constantly evaluating and evolving to meet the needs of their customers while maintaining best business practices. The same can be said for employees.
For company culture, it means that a person must be open to new ideas or changes, must be able to work independently or in teams, or carryout tasks that are not intended for one person only. When you move up the ranks and you're a Director, Vice President or Manager, being able to maneuver the changing workplace will keep you employed and successful.
Good advice I’ve received: Stay Innately curious and a life long learner.
5. Be kind, even to the office jerks
It’s commonly believed that an eye for an eye is the best policy—stand your ground, hold your own, and fight back. Assertiveness is an admirable trait because being passive may make you appear like doormat that others can walk all over. However, being assertive or speaking your opinion does not have to equate to being mean; there are many ways to stand up for yourself while still remaining polite and thoughtful. Sometimes the best way to give someone what they deserve is to give them the opposite by handling your conflicts with kindness.
Words and actions can have a lasting impact on others. It may not feel permanent to you, but to the other person, it could be everlasting. I’m not saying it’s not easy to be kind to others all the time, but by being kind you surprisingly can improve your mood and outlook on the situation. Maybe not right away, especially when the tip of your tongue is holding itself back from expressing your true feelings. But afterwards, you’ll be glad you didn’t say something you can’t take back and you’ll be glad you offered kindness instead of unnecessary meanness.
Good advice I’ve received: Being mean doesn’t solve anything. So being nice can’t hurt either. Even if nothing is solved, at least you know you didn’t make it worse.
One more thing:
While you’re working to further your company culture, always remember to continue to push yourself outside of work. Often your best work environment derives from inspiration, so get inspired! Read on subjects that motivate you, study areas to increase knowledge within your field and never stop learning.