When a “Hostile Work Environment” Isn’t, Part 2

Earlier this month I talked about how management should deal with a supervisor who has created an environment her staff feels is hostile.  Today I want to talk about what staff – you who report to this supervisor – can do to  improve your own work lives. 

Staff members often feel powerless to affect how they feel about their day to day work.   While you probably can’t totally change the environment and the way the work is done, you can often make many more changes than you realize to help make things better for yourself.  To do that, you first have to understand that most likely the supervisor does not care, or pay much attention, to how you do most of your work.  You likely really are in charge of much of it. 

 So, if you find yourself in this position, you need to take ownership of your work, and mold it to create a job you feel better about coming to each day.  Of course, you need to do this while accomplishing the tasks required of you.  But HOW you do that really is often up to you. 

 What to do?  Take these steps:

1.  Start by identifying one thing that bothers you, and over which you have control.  In other words, pick something like the order in which you accomplish tasks, the way you greet customers, the arrangement of items in your workspace, the procedure for doing something.  Find something you want to improve, and decide to tackle it.

2. Define exactly what you want to change, and how you want to improve it.  If it is not something your supervisor checks, made the change and consciously take ownership of and pride in it.  If it is something your supervisor checks, present a positive reason for the change, and how it will improve the functioning of the office.  Give her a reason to say yes from her perspective.  If you have concerns she’ll say no, start with something small, in which you don’t have a lot of emotional investment.

3. Repeat this process with other things you want to change, until you have made enough improvements that you feel better about coming to work each day.

Finally, decide to let go of those things you most likely cannot affect.  These include things like the supervisor’s moodiness, tone of voice or lack of knowledge.  Choose to stop dwelling on how bad those are and how much they aggravate you, and shift your focus instead to the positive things you have changed, how much control you have over how you view each work day, and the pride you take in not allowing someone else’s whims to control your life and emotions.

Remember: if there’s something in your workplace with which you’re dissatisfied, you have several good options:

–        You can work to change whatever it is.

–        You can decide it’s not really important to you and accept it as it is.

–        If it’s important enough, you can leave for other work.

The worst option, and unfortunately the one many of us choose is to stay, make no effort to change what we don’t like, continue to believe it’s important, and suffer.  Make a positive choice not to go there!   ~DS

Have you taken control and made changes to improve your work life?  Let us know!

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