Let’s just take a minute to just sit with this fact. Isn’t it sad that so many people are experiencing working in a toxic, unproductive, negative company culture? I fully believe that most people are decent but we have to admit that something funky starts to happen when those same decent people go into the workplace. Something about how we see work seems to bring out the asshole in many of us.
Ok, back to the subject of this post. Many people I’ve worked with have had this issue. I’ve been in this situation too. In my story, I jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire, so don’t follow my example. Instead here’s one person’s story, and what they did about it to create a successful outcome.
C is an engineering director. They switched industries to bring their agile and transformations skills and experience to a company that wanted to advance.
A job they were most excellent at. A job whose content was fully within their skillset. It was also a job that allowed them to put energy into developing as a leader with a larger team than they had ever lead before. And at a higher level where influencing, getting people on board, and negotiating, are all key.
In short, a job they loved.
They were looking forward to the challenge of creating transformation change in a new environment. And it is a challenge, because even when people want to change, actually changing is hard. We are all creatures of habit. Learning new habits takes a lot more energy. So our brains find lots of ways to not spend that energy i..e keep doing what we’ve always done.
Unfortunate company culture
Unfortunately, there was a great deal of inertia in the organisation at all levels: the support for the idea of change was high, and the will to go through the pain of change? Pretty low with key stakeholders.
Worst of all, the leader of C was a micromanager. Not only dictating details of what and how to do the work, but even stepping in and taking over parts of the job.
So what did C do, that really helped in this situation?
In our work together, C accomplished these 4 things:
Separate the mission from the noise
In these situations, there’s a lot of noise: false urgencies dragged out meetings that could have been a phone call, being pulled in all directions.
First, C got super clear on the impact they wanted to create:
What do I want to achieve while I am here? What matters most to me?
What’s the proactive action I want to take?
How do I want to respond to these (negative/toxic) behaviours?
Second, C took action by:
Saying no a lot more (and getting over any mental blocks that prevent saying no)
Establishing and upholding boundaries
Choosing key objectives to focus on, and then only doing those things
Third (most impactful), C kept hold of their sanity
This kind of work environment is incredibly frustrating. A micromanaging boss is the worst. The stress, and frustration, can make us lose our minds.
I’m proud of this client, and I’m most proud of C’s ability to ask for help.
Full transparency, a lot of our work together was on the mental fitness side. In the face of all this chaos and frustration, how do I keep my cool, think clearly, and remain proactive so that I can do good work and enjoy my job?
Fourth, make a decision for the long term.
It’s a question we all ask ourselves in these situations: should I stay or should I go? It’s natural for us to want to jump to the next thing as fast as possible.
Side note: I did that back in the day and jumped into an even worse situation. . Please don’t do that.
Fortunately, C got into a positive mindset to choose do I want to stay here or go somewhere else? And If I go somewhere else, when do I want to go?
C made the right choice for themselves, at the right time. They made that move in the best way for their career: completing key changes that mattered, learning an awful lot about managing upwards, and then leaving for a better environment.
In essence, it all comes down to this:
- keeping your sanity
- focus on the impact you want to create
- choose where you want to make that impact.
This post is part of my special Coaching Tips Series. This series was inspired by my clients and the core themes in their challenges. When we can apply these tips, we bring a lot of ease into our lives and step into our leadership. Want to talk it through with me? Call me and let’s make a Game Plan together.