When No One Else On The Job is Invested in Being Great
Not every place of employment is populated with high-energy, motivated champions eager to step up and lift the organization to greatness. This is no mystery, nor should it be. If by definition most people are “middle of the road”, then if follows that the organizations employing them will be mediocre as well. The problem comes when you have been hired under the pretense of playing a major role in helping to raise the company’s performance, but you seem to be the only one who is pursuing that mission. This is compounded even more when management and ownership are counted in this number. The result for you is daily frustration, as minimal gains are achieved due to consistently having to swim against the current. Here are a few tips for keeping your sanity at work in the face of such wide-spread complacency.
STEP 1: Ramp Up Your Network Chatter
Let’s face it, the worst-case scenario is that you may have to leave. Eventually. Networking and personal contacts have always (and will always be) the #1 way jobs are landed. If you are doing as you should, you would be doing this year-round BEFORE you need them. If not, start now, because you may need them soon if things begin to go south with later steps.
STEP 2: Get Your Resume Together
Why? See Step 1. If the time comes to fly the coop, you don’t want the added hassle of trying to get a resume written during what could be a trying period. This, as well as the step involving reaching out to your network, is emergency preparation.
STEP 3: Decide Your Course of Action
When the organizational environment has been poisoned to wholly accept underperformance, you have some decisions to make. You can:
- Begin plotting your exit strategy in hopes of landing someplace where they care more about the job and direction of the organization.
- Decide to take your case to management and see if there is hope for a turnaround. Perhaps there is a housecleaning coming soon. Of course, if you don’t like what you hear, see Bullet 1.
- Say nothing, but change your perception of your job so as to reduce your ownership of the results in your own mind.
Now, bullet 3 is the tricky one. What you are essentially doing here is lowering your expectations and psychological investment in the results of your efforts to keep your sanity at work. On the surface, this seems a bit irresponsible. But if you are stuck in this position due to circumstances and don’t see the environment improving, you have to keep your sanity in some way. Perhaps the job pays great comma have excellent benefits, is close to home comma or has favorable hours to allow you family time. These reasons maybe why you don’t pursue another option in mediately. So in the meantime, you will want to keep your stress levels low.
If you have done all you can to help the team meet its mission, set some boundaries and do not let the lack of accountability from others encroach upon you and your peace. If you have been stressing out trying to “pick up the ball” everyone else has been dropping, stop. Answering late-night calls or emails as a result of the rest of the team’s proper functioning? Don’t. Have you executed your duties to the best of your ability but others around you not putting forth the effort? Document, document, document. Be sure that when things hit the fan and projects fall through, you can show where you performed to task and then some. If that major presentation falls through because everyone else on the team did not get the job done, you should not be expected to physically OR psychologically carry the entire load when management and ownership won’t.
But for long-term career satisfaction, you should still plot your departure if the environment seems set in stone and you are looking to stay engaged in achieving personal career heights. Maintaining one’s sanity at work is key to keeping the rest of your life on track.