There are many things that can interfere with workplace harmony. And because work is a critical part of life, what happens in the workplace can materially affect our lives with negative impact. Complicating the problem is the fact that there is much that happens at work that is beyond our control, in fact, the vast majority of it.
If you are in middle management, you are getting it from both ends. There are the people you supervise who are unhappy about the way things are going. Then there are the many people to whom you have to answer for all the things that aren’t going so well.
The good news is that even for middle managers, there are ways to take control of and manage your own workplace happiness. It is not always easy. And it may take some time and practice. Change worth doing usually is. But if you are sick and tired of the way things are, here are some suggestions for moving things in a more positive direction:
Create an Environment of Recognition
It is not so much that people need to be rewarded for doing things well. But we do need occasional recognition for the good work that we do. When employees are recognized for a job well done, they are incentivized to do it again, and again, and… You get the idea.
You can create that environment of recognition by giving recognition to your coworkers and the people you are tasked to manage. A pat on the back goes a long way. And because reciprocation is a natural instinct, you will be creating an environment where your own good work will be recognized more often.
If you are in management, presenting custom awards to achievers makes them redouble their efforts. There is only one best. So you have to find ways to reward and encourage other workers without cheapening the grand prize. If only one person can be rewarded, it can actually disincentivize other workers. Avoid setting up one person above all others. You are not trying to create a single champion. You are trying to create an environment of recognition.
Set Higher Standards for Yourself
After reading the employee handbook put it aside and set your standards higher. The handbook is not describing the ideal behavior. It is describing the minimum standard of acceptability. Drop a little below that and you are out of a job. That is one of the big reasons why you should set your standards higher than the minimum in any endeavor.
Another reason for high standards is to place yourself above suspicion when things go south. You should be known as the one person in the office who simply wouldn’t do that sort of thing, whatever that thing happens to be. Now Zack over in the corner, everyone knows he gets up to all sorts of mischief. When your standards are higher, other people notice.
You also will never need to doubt yourself when your standards are high. When you are just skimming the minimum, you will always wonder if you are doing enough. Achieving a high standard gives you the feeling of a job well done. Your consistently going above and beyond the minimum gets you noticed by those who are in a position to reward your work in meaningful ways.
Perfect the Art of Being You
The only one you can fully control at work is yourself. So take charge of yourself. And become your best self possible. Perfect yourself, your generosity, your ethics, your patience, your concentration. Your confidence must come from within, and can never be subject to what random messages you get from others.
Calm defuses chaos. Peace defuses anger. The rock is still there long after the waves retreat. Be the rock. Don’t be moved by those around you who sometimes like making waves.
At the end of the day, you are not at work to fraternize. You are there to fulfill your dreams. You have made promises to your employer and to your family that you can’t keep if you let your job dictate your happiness. So, create an environment of recognition. Set higher standards for yourself. And perfect the art of being you. Job satisfaction is yours for the taking, regardless of the job.