Day 450: Changing The Cultures At Work

Recently I quit my job and moved unto a new employer, with new office, new colleagues, new routines, and a new culture. It has been very interesting, primarily, because I have been able to observe the difference in culture.

At my first job, there was a pressure and stress to the atmosphere. There was a lot of animosity under the surface, irritation because of changes in the organization, or just general dissatisfaction with the amount of work that was pressuring the employers. There was also this interesting tendency to reward/look positively at putting in long hours at the office. It was seen as good to work more, and I found myself, on a couple of occasions, competing with my colleagues about who was working the most. When I look back at it now, I find it fascinating, because there is absolutely no value in merely working – the focus – should be on the RESULT. If the result is dependent upon working more hours, then it might make sense – however if the result is instead dependent on the QUALITY of work put in – and not the quantity – then it does not make sense to put in more hours than what is needed.

Another point that was quite noticeable at my old work was the hierarchical structure and the competition existent between some of the co-workers. And mostly, the competition had to do about achieving a higher standing in the eyes of those higher up in the hierarchy. Many times this created a tense atmosphere, which led to mistakes being suppressed and withheld, rather than being opened up and discussed. Consequently, information sometimes got lost, and the organization as a whole lost strength.

Though, the most compromising point existent at my old office must have been gossip. It is a very destructive habit. It creates separation between individuals, it separate groups, creates many misunderstandings, and assumptions. Gossip, while it might sound as if a problem is being discussed and opened up, it is only a way of immersing oneself in emotions while attempting to destroy another and get backing from others to feel justified about it. Gossiping is cowardly and should not be allowed in any office. For a organization, gossip is like a illness. I would imagine, that the same organization, free from gossip, would be able to perform with 100 % more efficiency. However it is very difficult to do, because gossip easily becomes like an addiction. Then we become addicted to our problems as well, because they offer us opportunity to bring up our gossip and have others join in.

Hence, the big differences thus far that I have noticed, is not so much in the description of the work, but more in the culture existing at the office – and it is fascinating the impact that this culture can have on how the work is experienced. And culture is not something that is easily changed. In-fact, there are organizational experts and motivational speakers specialized in only changing the culture/the general approach of the employees of a workplace – and in most of the cases without much success. The reason for that, as I see it, is simple. It has not yet been effectively understood how the culture, the accepted and allowed set of behavior in a office, is created – and that employers must put in A LOT more resources into working with/directing the underlying problems that the employers have that come through as for example gossip.

One practical correction that I have applied at work in order to support myself to be more effective has been to push myself to be professional – to keep my relationships and myself directed and targeted at and towards fulfilling the goals/responsibilities of the organization. To do that, I have pushed myself to keep in my mind a overview – to see not only my own personal life – but to as well see how my position, and the actions I take in my position, influence and effect others. Doing that, I have also come to see the value in what I am doing. And due to this personal relationships has become less important, in favor of prioritizing fulfilling the responsibilities I have.

On a final note, I want to add that, when it comes to office politics and work environments, even though it might feel like we cannot change them, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of us taking back the initiative and ACTING. We cannot wait for others to change – if we want a different atmosphere – we have to create it – and that always begins with ourselves. If we want less gossip, first we must make sure that WE do not gossip. If we want less stress and more structure – then we must first make sure that WE live and create that for ourselves – that we stand as an example. And I have experienced this at my past work place – things do change when I change. As such, blame is NEVER valid – we always have the power and capacity to do something about our situation.

 


 

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