Some of the work I do with clients is around dissatisfaction at their job and redundancies. Their experience of disengagement, or worse burn out, is often attributed to a work culture of intense pressure, fear, long hours, where their effort isn’t met with acknowledgement. These employees feel disconnected from the organisation as they have no reference point, no inner GPS to compare or evaluate against the company’s stated value and purpose. I would state that most people want to contribute one way or another. Its in our DNA to be part of something and be useful. When our own values match the values and culture of a company it’s a reaffirmation of what we stand for and work becomes less of a means to an end.
But do you know your values? Do you know what you stand for and not? At the beginning of our work together a lot of clients don’t see the connection between who they are and what that has to do with the company they work in. Hence, we start mining for their values, identify their qualities, looking at success’s and failures. As much as its preferable to be in the here and now, the past plays a huge role here. Identifying those values is one step, where they come from, and how they ended up being yours or copied is another conversation (and blog post). Additionally, the definition of the same value has different meanings to different people.
Once you have identified your values you can compare them to the firm you work for. Is there a match or mismatch? And on what grade? Is an unshakable value you hold put into question by your boss or colleagues? If one of your core values is trashed or misaligned its never life affirming. It doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, but the price you pay for it is huge. The positive life energy you waste to meet the challenges suck in the long run and leave most people burned out at the end of their careers. Or the contrary: Is the organisation your life? Who are you without the organisation? Have you given up to be yourself for the organisation? It isn’t uncommon that people don’t know what to do with their lives after they retire. People have killed themselves after they had to retire.
With these questions answered over time you get clarity and awareness. Better clarity and awareness gives you better answers and with better answers you get better results.
What can those results be?
First, where you and your values are “in general” aligned with the company we can start working on your mind-set. In other words, how can I accept my (temporary) dissatisfaction without burning to many matches each work day.
Second, how good are the company values to question my own? What can I learn in the organisation? Where can I still find my place of contribution and leadership?
Third, can I transform my workplace? Or do I love playing the victim? Its so much easier to blame than to do transformational work.
Fourth, am I simply afraid to quit? There is a point where the disconnection can be so deep you will never find happiness in your day to day. If you ever had the thought, I’d wish they would fire me so the decision would be taken for me you are probably at that point. And yet, staying is neither good for you, nor the organisation.
Fifth, quit with intelligence, where your core values are violated consistently. Even I figured out that money is a mere excuse for most people who are afraid to quit, don’t act a fool and walk out on the next occasion. Think about a plan, formulate a plan, execute on that plan, get a coach/help.
If there is a knot in your stomach on Sunday night about your Monday work morning, I would encourage you to embrace the thought that your well-being starts with a better understanding of who you are, rather than with the wishful thought the organisation might change.