12 May 2016

Growing your work environment (and yourself)

Author: James Middleton

When people start a new job, I believe there’s a very general cycle that they will generally progress through. It goes a little something like this:

  • Get really stimulated and excited by all the new things you’re learning and people you’re meeting
  • Start to see a few cracks in the new job and the people there (i.e. things get a little bit “normal”)
  • Start to get a little bit disillusioned with the working environment that once was really cool and new

If you’re anything like me, you would’ve gone through that cycle. I think it’s also safe to say that it’s not only true of work, but of most things in our lives. As humans, I believe we tend to get a little bit ungrateful and entitled once something becomes “normal” to us. However, let me not get philosophically side-tracked.

This post is going to give a few useful insights on how to beat this cycle by making improvements to the working environment around you in order to keep it fresh and exciting.

Push the system forwards

Before I get into the detail of how to keep things moving forward at work, there are two fundamental assumptions that need to be understood:

  1. People get bored when they get used to something. In other words, when you are familiar with your work, the way it functions and the people around you, boredom will inevitably set in.
  2. People are able to bring about change in the environment they find themselves in.

The first assumption is pretty negative. Basically, we’re wired to stagnate if something becomes and remains too familiar. However, the second assumption is very positive in that we’re able to influence that stagnant environment in way that not only improves it, but also keeps us engaged and growing.

Call the boredom out

If we’re ever going to keep stimulated and keep improving things, we need to firstly recognise when things start getting sucky and boring. Whatever you do, don’t avoid this! See it for what it is, accept it and deal with it. Ignoring the fact that you’re complaining more and more, getting increasingly bored and progressively less productive is not going to stop the fact that it’s happening to you.

Act on it

When you’ve managed to own the fact that work isn’t what it used to be, don that critical hat and start to analyse the environment. Actively pull out the “things” that annoy you, that make your work life difficult and then wrestle with the potential solutions in your head. An example… If getting sign off from the marketing department is like pulling teeth from a crocodile, think about the software you use (i.e. the tech mindset), the people involved (i.e the political mindset) or the way you do it (i.e. the cultural and operational mindsets). The main point is, understand what’s annoying you and come up with potential solutions.

Bring it to the table

The final movement in this organisational symphony is to communicate these problems to somebody that has the power to fix them. Importantly (and I cannot stress this enough), make sure that you bring your carefully considered solutions to the table with the problems. That way, you are not just looking like a moaner that likes to complain. Rather, you display emotional buy-in around something that probably burns them just as much. It’s powerful when someone sees you wanting to make things better! What you’ll probably find is that you will be entrusted with the goal of fixing the issues with one of your solutions. A new and exciting challenge in and of itself. Suddenly things aren’t so boring anymore…

In summary, I really do believe that you will get bored at work. However, I don’t believe that boredom is a valid reason to jump ship or become the incessant complainer. Only once you’ve done your best to drive everything forward in a positive manner are you then in a legitimate position to consider other options. I guarantee you that if you follow these three steps and manage to improve things, your value at work will skyrocket exponentially!

About the author:
James is Head of Project Office at Hubble Studios. He loves running up mountains, playing in a band and working with quality people. The majority of his experience has been in online education, which has allowed him to work with pretty much anyone and everyone under the sun (think: graphic designers, videographers, animators, writers, actuaries, accountants, marketers, entrepreneurs, developers and even people in luxury hospitality).
LinkedIn | james.middles@gmail.com

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