Gratitude is in the air this time of year. While we all want it, the harsh reality is that many work environments can be quite thankless. From “always busy” managers to ever changing agendas, feeling recognized is a scarce commodity at times.
With an emphasis on meeting deadlines and hitting revenue or sales goals, especially at the end of the year, the numbers seem to get all the attention. However, that intense focus on numbers rather than the people driving them may be what ultimately costs a company its success. The health of the organization and the bottom line are directly affected by the strength and satisfaction of each individual. In fact, employees that are happy are 10 to 12 percent more productive, so ensuring employee happiness is critical to the long-term success of any organization.
Last week during a status update call, we were discussing a client’s employee engagement survey results. The executives on the line wished that their people leaders would share suggestions and improvements to the current systems. Inevitably, they can’t have the weight of everyone’s happiness on their back. This is where we all come into play – we all must work to make our environments better for everyone, including ourselves.
Below are three thankless work environments that we regularly encounter and some tips on how you should navigate.
Churn and Burn Central
This office is where you work ungodly hours, and your efforts are not recognized. “Gratitude” is primarily shown through corporate programs that give appreciation in a less than timely manner. At this office, it is common to hear comments like, “It’s hard, but I was in that role a few years ago, and you have to pay your dues.”
Fierce Tip: You must ask for what you need in this environment – don’t sit around and be a victim. Make sure your needs align with what is best for the business, and make your suggestion is tangible. For example, if you are feeling burned out, ask your manager to leave the office on a certain day every week to do something for yourself like yoga or golf. Emphasize that your goal is to increase your overall wellbeing and bring your “A game”.
This office primarily recognizes the shiniest and most grandiose achievements while ignoring the others. People who get recognized are often the top sales producers, award-winning contributors, or the ones who toot their own horns. Oftentimes people stop contributing or sharing their discretionary efforts, because they know that people won’t notice or even acknowledge them.
Fierce Tip: It is important to share your achievements and efforts. Do not sulk in your lack of recognition, instead do something about it. Share your actions with your manager and a peer, and better yet, tell them how you would like to be recognized in the future. Many organizations are not very savvy with asking their people how they want to be recognized. When the topic comes up, management usually welcomes feedback and ideas.
Land of Empty Promises
This office contains people who share their gratitude and recognition, which is positive. The catch is carrots are dangled in front of you that do not come to fruition in a timely manner. In this office, management may say things like, “We think you are going to be one of our next leaders. Keep at it, and it will come.” When you push to get a timeline…crickets. You may bring up the topic many times and never hear enough detail for it to feel real.
Fierce Tip: You need to confront the issue at hand. If you have been promised something that doesn’t not feel real, you need to be grounded and share that you need more details. Here you can ask more questions: What can I provide to make the future plans more tangible? What do you see getting in the way? This conversation is an opportunity to gain a large understanding of the big picture, and the new knowledge can help you partner better.
To be fierce in these situations, you must take the accountable stance. If anything is to change, it is up to you – regardless of the side of the table you are on.
Are you in one of these environments? What tips do you have?