5 Years In The Workplace| Reflections, Lessons, and Takeaways.
Paint this picture with me:
People have been unfair to you. They have not treated you in line with your worth. You probably feel underpaid and undervalued. Maybe it is true, once you connect the dots — you feel as if you are not respected. Your superiors and sometimes fellow colleagues barely listen or pay attention to your thoughts. You try to weigh the facts and viola… evidence shows that others are treated better than you are.
What would be the most efficient way to deal with this?
A few months back, you were full of life, full of energy, and ready to save the world. In the third quarter through the year, you are DONE. You really cannot take it anymore. You begin complaining and just hissing and hating everything that is happening. Two years down the line, you are completely demotivated, you barely push yourself anymore. You are constantly late, in fact, everyone in your team knows that you will say No to everything thrown your way.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There is always another way. The misery may feel like an endless circle if you do NOTHING.
Here are a few things I picked up from my experience in the last couple of years
There will be days where you feel down, and there will be days where you are at your very best. Learn to embrace each day as it comes and, soak in the lessons. Some days come with a lot of victories, while some really come with bitter lessons. You will feel appreciated and valued at some, you will feel disrespected and taken for granted at some. Stay focused. You are in it for you!
Don’t take things personally. You are your best reflection. Learn to not take things to heart when you feel offended, disrespected, undervalued, or anything similar. It was a hard painful process until I finally understood that people have their own issues, stereotypes, biases, and most importantly — weaknesses. Embrace that and your life in the workplace will be so peaceful. It’s not you, it's them — Seriously.
Work so hard and super smart, the goal being - build a reputation of being reliable. If you do not understand something, ask. If you are not certain about something, ask. If you need to make the decision for things to move, act. If you are given something to do, deliver. If all goes sideways, take ownership and be accountable once you mess up. Always be of value. If you need to do something, go the extra mile, if you find a gap or a missing link, do your best to make a difference.
Work hard, be reliable, but do not be the donkey that is given all the workload to carry. Sometimes, it is okay to say No. Sometimes, it is very okay to question where you stand with your employers. Professionally communicate when you feel underpaid and overworked. But remember, timing is very crucial.
You may be young, but do not be afraid to stand up in your mandate area. Be bold enough to kickstart the difficult conversations. Your colleagues may hate it, but eventually, they will appreciate it and acknowledge your efforts — Directly or indirectly
Don’t always be the wet blanket. I mean c’mon, there surely are problems and shortcomings and challenges, but you cant be the one complaining ALL THE TIME. You don’t need to have an opinion about every little thing. What you focus on MAGNIFIES, try to focus on the good, on the positive and work with that. When you always come up with problems, when you are always talking about problems, when all you see is bad- you will get by your working days hating and cursing and feeling ungrateful about EVERYTHING. Like I always say- no matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides -Focus on the good.
Entitlement will work against you. This is the tough one. Just because your employers have done something wrong, it doesn't give you the right to do something wrong. As much as you want the others to do you just, you too should do them just! Have you faithfully done your part? What value are you adding? Are you bringing in more opportunities and more clients and more leads? Are you making your workplace a better place? Stop feeling entitled to be promoted or to have a salary increase- This has to be two-way traffic, what have you done to qualify that? if you can prove it with facts and figures, surely you don’t have to complain so loudly about that to change. The more you complain about it, the more chances it will work against you. (Refer to paragraph 04)
To be a better team player, think like a Leader. Think like a co-founder. STOP Playing small. Stop sweating the small stuff. Think of it like chess (Or draft) You gotta think two, there four, ten steps ahead. You gotta think about the bigger picture. what’s the end game. As young, as you are, work hard on operational issues but also work hard to leave a legacy. What brilliant processes are you introducing? What problem was once there, but it’s now vanished thanks to something you introduced. To achieve this, you have to have personal milestones and goals about your specific department or role. When I move to another company, I want people to say, “Jocelyne was here” because, damn yes, there is a significant difference!
Don’t always tell your boss that he is dead wrong about something! Yo, I feel you — In my early days I will just barge in and just say it as it is! no filter, nothing. Sometimes I would just throw in a text message. It is okay, but it’s not very wise. Be a person of fewer words- especially when expressing your disappointment on something. — Say very little to the point where, once you say it, It has WEIGHT. Also, you gotta remember, you are not in their shoes, sometimes you may never understand what they are going through or dealing with. Unless your words can really make a difference -Then just Shutup!
Be professional. The word professional means a lot of things to many people, let me put it a simple way — Usiwe Mswahili. Do your best to document things. Don’t just not show up. You can’t dress like you are going to the market, You can’t just do the work when you feel like it. Professionalism is about meeting the standards that matter. It is not about just getting the work done so that you could get over it, it is valuing everything, and everyone’s time and it is about building your reputation as an individual.
I am still soaking in the lessons, and still choosing to enjoy the ride. For me to keep going, I need a powerful why. Ask yourself, Why do you do the work you do at the place you are in? Define that, and nothing thrown your way will ever be too big to handle!
That’s all for now!