The workplace is a human environment which definitely translates to human activities and its related responses and reactions. We wake up in the morning and prepare to go spend so much time at the workplace hopefully in a productive way. We always hope to feel fulfilled at the end of the day having accomplished some valuable tasks whose input feeds into the bigger purpose of the business and translates to significant business growth.
As we step into the workplace, the human baby in all of us becomes alive to a set of conscious and unconscious expectations from our colleagues who are our peers, juniors or seniors.
We always hope that someone if not our team member will notice the new hairstyle and comment positively about it. We expect the boss will be full of praise for the assignment well done. We hope the CEO will make mention of us and the role we played while announcing to the rest of the firm ,the new big deal that was won. We expect one of the juniors to at least send a thank you note or step up and say thank you for the technical guidance we offered on that complex assignment they were handling. We expect that the immediate boss will at least acknowledge our ingenuity in the new cost cutting strategy introduced in the department. We expect this and we expect that, we all have expectations which stem from our human souls.
When these expectations are met, we feel appreciated and there always is an unseen but very powerful fire that gets re-fuelled inside of us. Suddenly we feel more competent; we share on the social media how awesome the boss is. If we are fairly new to the organization we post a significantly religious message on the social media space thanking our Deity for the knowledge and revelation of accepting the offer from our new employer. We move around the office with a renewed sense of purpose and if by any chance there be a survey calling for our participation to express our views and thoughts on what we think about the firm, then it receives a very positive feedback.
To the contrary, when these expectations are not met, the opposite happens. The attention seeking baby is us throws some silent tantrums. All manner of negative emotions come into play. We start wondering whether we made the right decision to join the organization. We start a silent prayer to the gods to bring forth a better opportunity. Unfortunately we start feeling less competent and start doubting our capabilities. We sometime even run to Google and punch in “signs of a sinking organization” just to confirm that indeed the firm is on the highway of business death and that what we are feeling is a confirmation. The Platform101 becomes our daily friend as we start looking for a new job. Amazingly momentarily even forget about the good salary we earn from the same organization.
The reality of life is that we will not always get affirmed or acknowledged in a manner or time that we expect. Many hours of toiling on a project may go unnoticed by the boss who just wants the final results to present to the senior leadership.
How then do we prepare ourselves for this reality? Do we walk with our heads and hearts low having day long pity party. Do we start looking down at our team members as a bunch of non-appreciative laborers who are unworthy of our companionship? Do we start hating on the boss? Do we resort to expressing our frustrations on the social media space? Do we make a prayer request to our religious fellowship groups asking for God to come through before his child gets humiliated by the agents of the devil? Do we wait for the firm wide staff survey to come so that we can “make em know how what we feel”
The one and only solution to this unmet expectation is working on our own sense of self-worth and confidence. Cultivating a positive self-outlook based on what we know we are whether we are told about it or not. Starting to build a powerful positive narrative about ourselves, our passions, our technical capabilities, our past victories and aligning this with what is expected of us at the work place is key.
Look back at the assignments that you did so well and the impact they had to the business. Look back at the people you have trained and coached and are now superstars in their different roles. Look back and put into perspective the soft skills and technical development sessions you have attended and how they have transformed you as an individual. Look back at the competency combination that thrilled your boss when he/she was interviewing you prior to joining the organization. Look back at all the firm wide programs that are running successfully using the ideas you shared during the business transformation agenda week. Look back at the number of times your peers, juniors and even your boss has called on you to share your thoughts on certain initiatives and how it brought the light bulb moment. And remember you went for that hair style or new suit because you like it and certainly your spouse of fiancee appreciates it too.
I call the above “life’s arrows of fire” with which you MUST make the habit of taking aim and shooting along your path of life in the workplace every morning. The arrows will light your way with confidence and self-belief. You will walk in power and overcome every bit of discouragement. You will not wait for your colleagues’ affirmation but when it comes (in case in does) then it will just add up to the ocean of fire that you have already created. This fire will cause you to refocus on your KPI’s and make you take on each role ready to deliver the best outcome because you can and not because a colleague said you can.
Do not wait for your colleagues in the office to light up your sense of self-worth, confidence, competence etc. They themselves may be struggling with the same issues. Set yourself ablaze and you will be surprised at how your fire will attract if not set blaze other smaller fires and create a positive light and heat at the workplace. Do not stop there. Be extraordinary and start addressing that very need in your colleagues by genuinely appreciating and affirming their efforts
We should not kill the voice in us that longs for appreciation and affirmation from our workmates since its very human to have or rather feel that need. However we should be careful not to allow the lack of appreciation and affirmation to be the anchor of our lives and determinant of our workplace performance.
Be the architect of your joy and confidence and learn to believe in who you are. When we daily set oourselves ablaze with the “life’s arrows of fire” we will turn out to be the agent of change in our “cold” offices.
Authored by Stephen Ogolla