Can you be yourself at work or are you having to be someone else?
I’m working with a client, let’s call him Craig, who is having to operate so far from his natural self that it’s leading to all sorts of problems.
He is a kind and considered and thoughtful man who likes to take time to think through the best approach to take. But his boss wants answers right away and puts him under pressure to make quick decisions.
He is getting exhausted, and was considering leaving but first he wants to make sure he would get a good reference.
The work we’ve done together has helped him to appreciate his strengths, to realise that he and his boss have different working styles, his style isn’t worse but different.
One of the positive steps has been to talk with his boss about how to bring out his best at work. To ask his boss for an agenda in advance of a meeting to allow him thinking time. When his boss seeks an immediate answer to be more assertive and to say that he’d get back to him.
Of course we didn’t see a fairy tale ending and it has taken a few conversations with his boss to get him to appreciate his style, but we are getting there.
But should he carry on like this?
Craig is much stronger at being strategic than paying attention to detail. He needs to do less of the detailed work so we’ve been talking about how this work can be passed on to a less experienced colleague who is seeking advancement. The work may be detailed but it’s also complex.
When we talk about the real him and how he wants to be at work he knows that he is getting drained, and this then has impact on his personal life. He is having to work longer hours and is worrying over the job, not great when he wants to focus more on his family.
Let’s think about you; is the work you do a good fit for you?
- Does your boss bring out the best in you?
- Do you still feel energised at the end of the day?
Think about differences in your style is one way to address this. Let me know if I can help.
It may not be the wrong job but the wrong organisation or even the wrong boss.
This reminds me of a terrible time I had at work. A restructuring lead to a change of boss to someone who had never managed a psychologist before and my work was different to the rest of her team, who were more involved in operational work. I just carried on working the way I had done, and never thought to discuss how to bring out the best in me. Nor did she sit me down and tell me about my objectives. Previously I’d been managed on outputs and results, how I worked was up to me.
I’ve always been highly customer focused and continued to have good relationships with my internal customers. Her style was different. Looking back I think she may have been jealous that I’d be contacted direct rather than people approaching her and passing the task on.
The worst for me was being told that I wasn’t going to get a bonus (which was always enough to pay for a family holiday) because of something I’d done over 9 months before. I’d helped a customer and got involved in a project that she hadn’t want to take on. Perhaps there had been strategic or operational reasons but I’d never been told. Perhaps she just liked to be difficult with me. But it was devastating and a huge learning lesson.
I was then given to someone else to manage (with a pretty negative reference) but within a year I’d gained a promotion and was in a brand new area working on organisational change and with a boss who really helped me to shine and lead to significant promotions over the next couple of years.
Since then I’ve concentrated on being me – in relationships with people and in the way I work.
And being authentic is important to me.
I’m not having to wear a mask or pretend.
I don’t have to think about how to behave or question how to adapt.
And it gives me a lot more energy.
What about you?
- To what extent are you being true to yourself in your relationships and at work?
- If you do have to adapt, what sort of impact does this have on you? Can you deal effectively with this?
- How would you prefer to be – if you could be the real you, what would that be like?
This could be the focus of a 121 coaching session with me. Or perhaps you need an external perspective. I’m working with Lucia, based overseas and yesterday she said “Once again, thank you for making the jumble in my head a lot more organised! I feel I have a focus for the next few months and that the year ahead will be fun and exciting”
Wishing you all the very best
Brought to you by Denise Taylor, career coach and chartered psychologist with Amazing People. Denise is regularly featured as an expert in the press and is the author of 7 books including ‘How To Get A Job In A Recession’
The Career Discovery Initiative 7 day taster
This 7 day programme will give you an insight into how to answer the question, what is the best career for me?
Sign up and over the next week I’ll send you a different exercise each day from the Career Discovery Programme. Discover many useful insights to help you say yes, I can choose the best career for me. Read more at the Career Discovery mini site.