Do you love your job?
If not, why not?
Apart from the typical list of grievances such as pay, hours, travel, bureaucracy, micromanagement and teammates, what’s keeping you from loving your job?
Everybody wants to love what they do for a living. Unfortunately, very few people actually do.
What a lousy way to “make a living”?
Most people don’t understand that enjoying your job comes down to four factors integral to loving any endeavor of life. Ignore, dismiss or trivialize one or more of these factors and it will be no surprise that you dread going to work.
Even if you can’t do exactly what you want to do for a living, there are few moves you can make that will make a tremendous difference in how you feel about getting up to go to work each day.
In Part One of this series of articles, we discussed how important it is that you are genuinely passionate about what you do for a living. If you ignore or squelch your innate passions in the work you do, it will lead to an undercurrent of frustration, disappointment and regret in your life. Your passions are like hunger. They need to be fed or they will gnaw at you until they are satisfied.
If you are not doing something that reflects your passion, you need to begin there. Change positions. Change jobs. Change companies. Change careers. Just don’t settle for doing something for which you have little or no passion. It’s an awful way to spend a career.
In this second article, I invite you to consider another significant factor to loving your job. Working with people you enjoy is integral to how you feel about going to work each day.
Think about it. Most of the enjoyable experiences in our life are shared with people we enjoy. Vacations. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Holidays. Reunions. Recreation. Even a disappointing or miserable experience can be salvaged as a memorable adventure if we are with the right people. Whether it’s a cruise or a camp out, a vacation gone awry becomes more bearable with a friend or two who can keep you laughing when everything is going wrong.
No matter what you’re doing, the company you keep makes all the difference in the world to how you feel about it. Genuine camaraderie shared with wonderful people is a gift that enriches any situation. Even work.
Work can be hard enough as it is. Doing it with people we enjoy can certainly make it a whole lot easier.
When we hear the word “environment” we typically think in terms of weather or surroundings. Cold. Hot. Dark. Noisy. Cluttered. Classy. Environment is the setting or situation that surrounds you.
We need to realize that “relational environment” is every bit as real as the temperature or lighting in a room. It has a profound influence on how you experience your work. In fact, when it comes to a positive work experience, relational environment is more influential than physical setting.
If you work with the right people, you can turn a musty garage into a million-dollar enterprise where you look forward to working each day. Conversely, working with difficult people in the plush offices of a lavish suite can crush whatever joy you have for your job. The “people factor” has an enormous influence on how much satisfaction you find in your work.
Think of your relational environment using terms like Healthy/Unhealthy,
Comfortable/Uncomfortable, or Positive/Negative. Relationally speaking, is the atmosphere where you work physically, emotionally and professionally healthy? Are you comfortable around your peers? Is the culture of your company positive?
For instance, an oppressive leadership culture is not healthy. A passive-aggressive teammate can make collaborative experiences uncomfortable. A pessimistic or critical atmosphere is not positive. If that describes where you are employed, it’s going to be really difficult to look forward to going to work each day.
Let’s not be naive. You are never going to work anywhere where relational challenges won’t arise from time to time. Conflict of some kind is inevitable in the fast-paced, stress-filled environment of the workplace. People say or do things that annoy, hurt and exasperate one another. You’ll never find a job where that won’t happen.
Nor are you ever going to work at a place where everybody is exactly like you. In fact, if you want to really enjoy your job, welcome the opportunity to work with a wide variety of people and personalities. Great teams celebrate the diversity of perspectives that come with different personalities. If you learn to embrace the unique differences of other people at work with a grateful curiosity, it will alter how you feel about your job.
One key to enjoying your peers at work is interdependence. It is a privilege to work with people who are very different from you when they offer strengths and skills that complement the ones you lack. Learn to appreciate the variety of approaches, perspectives and insights other people bring to the table.
Another key is unity. Working with people who share the same vision, common goals, and similar values greatly increases the likelihood that you’ll love going to work each day.
I understand that many people do not have the luxury of choosing their teammates at work. Most people have to find relational harmony with teammates that somebody else hired.
So what can we do if we find ourselves working with people we don’t particularly enjoy?
Of course, one option is to change companies with the hopes of finding a healthier relational environment. While you may find a better one, you will never find a perfect one. Don’t be naïve to think that simply changing companies is going to eliminate relational challenges at work. There will be drama at your new job too.
If changing jobs is not an option, here are a few suggestions to consider.
Be the change you want to see.
You are the best person to influence the relational culture of your workplace.
Set the example of what you’d like to see happen around you. It often inspires others to step up their game.
Don’t engage in the drama.
It doesn’t matter what other people say or do, they cannot decide how you react. You and you alone retain the power to choose how you will respond to the behavior of other people.
The following observation is so true. “Drama doesn’t just walk into your life. You either create it, invite it or associate with it.” If you want to find more joy in your job, don’t allow yourself to be sucked into the drama that others create around you.
Address issues with difficult people.
One of the best steps you can take toward dealing with difficult people in your workplace is an open and honest conversation with them about whatever issues threaten a healthy relational environment. This doesn’t have to be aggressive. A healthy approach to conflict resolution seeks a careful balance between the courage to be candid and the compassion to be considerate. Open and honest dialog about working together can be offered as a sincere search for an understanding between two parties.
A conversation such as this can be a healthy team building experience. Talking directly with an offending peer is a thoughtful move that can go a long toward building greater respect between teammates.
Whatever you do, don’t continue to endure a relationally miserable work environment. Over time, it will take a terrible toll not only at work, but also at home and other important arenas of your life. If “things at work” are making you sick, you need to do something about it. Respect yourself enough to draw some boundaries and make moves to ensure that you are working in the best relational environment possible. You wouldn’t just sit at your desk all day and continue working if a colony of bats roosted overhead. That would be awful. Don’t tolerate annoying or abusive behavior from others and allow them to ruin your week either.
If you have to work for a living, you might as well do something you love with people you enjoy.
It’s your move.