Well, last week at work really sucked! All my life I have worked at places where certain things were valued. Yes, they were not all perfect but they were places where I felt all had a voice that was valued (yes even the not so bright voices!) and I respected that. This employer (where I currently am) seemed to be going in the same direction after a leadership change but last week I have come to see a bit more under the surface and have realized that I need to change some of my own behaviour at work until the workplace changes a bit. So, I took this weekend to really think about how I am part of the problem at my workplace (which has become a bit of a toxic place) as well as deal with some cold hard realities about the culture of this place.
By holding up the mirror to myself and reflecting, I have realized how I am part of the problem and that I cannot be so open and easy as I have been. The dynamics at work have changed with the addition of many new people and a change in leaderships. I need to not assume everyone understands my intentions and style when I speak openly. I need to frame conversations for the audience and, if known, their style. I am great at this with people who are my staff but less so with supervisors.
For example, I have also learnt, through a trusted person, that some suggestions I provided a higher up were not appreciated even though she asked me to be honest, open, and direct. This person, who seemed to be pleased to have the honesty which no on else provides (now I know why!), was actually very annoyed and did not handle constructive feedback well. I have to remember some people in leadership positions have egos and we are not equal in our positions so I have to be careful when invited to give feedback. It sucks as I have appreciated workplaces where all are valued mostly equally but the reality is that this is not one of them. Sometimes you just have to play the game and I will have to do that while I still work here.
I also have to give feedback directly to individuals (except the person mentioned above for whom I will need a new strategy) who need it instead of letting it slide or complaining afterwards or assuming their boss is going to deal with it-or trying to flag this information for this boss. When the boss is blissfully unaware or does not care, I have to let them find out or deal with it the hard way rather than getting involved and trying to prevent a problem from arising. Although I disagree with it and think everyone should be invested in the whole organization’s outcomes and hold each other accountable, this place has taken on the none of your business approach unless that business is under your direct control. It drives me crazy but if some areas of the workplace are drowning or at risk, so be it. I hate even writing this but this is the culture this leader wishes to create. I have had a few slaps on the wrist over this type of things so have to just deal with it.
I know I can also be a bit of a drama queen who enjoys gossiping a bit with those I trust. I know I need to stop this and be more guarded about sharing things off the record with the colleagues I am more friendly with and trust. It may backfire but it is also not healthy for the company and I really do hope this place gets better or I would not bother with this whole post. Although I like to think you can trust people at work, perhaps it is too risky to do so. I hate thinking that as well but will have to. I guess I just have to share with my husband or friends about all my work drama instead. Am sure they will be thrilled! Ha ha ha.
I have also learned when trying to support someone else in coming forward with something, people think it is my issue and not the other person’s as my communication style is generally more bold the other people’s. I need to step back and not make the issues of others my issue while still supporting them to be open-and not speak for them. Of course, by changing how I frame things this may be solved.
These are the ways that I can be better in not contributing to the problems. However, this workplace is a bit toxic and this last week has shown me that I cannot be the real me as much as I would like. I will have to wear my work “hat” as soon as I enter the building and adapt to the current environment until it changes. I will see how it goes, and play the game for now, but I may have to start looking for another job if things do not change. However, a few friends and family members have told me these sorts of politics and issues are at most larger places so running away may not be the solution as I may just end up in a similar or worse culture.
I do like the work we do and when I am just doing the work itself, it is a great job. It is just all the politics that annoy me! They have become more pronounced in the last while. I am the type of person that had trouble being silent when I see blaring issues but perhaps if I can learn to frame things better, I can continue to have influence within this new toxic system to help change it. I am not sure though as part of that would require open communication and it is a bit frowned on! The question is how to challenge things without seeming to challenge them (since they do not like challenge)! I will have to reflect more and see how things go but I just wanted to write this blog post in part to vent and in part to reflect on what I need to do now for myself and to stop contributing to the issues.
Sometimes, in an environment where truth is not valued, you have to play the game and manipulate the situation in other ways to get the results you are after. Well, I am good at games so lets see how it goes. The challenge is on!