You’re doing your job, meeting deadlines and quotas, and then your boss asks to see you in their office. You aren’t expecting anything out of the ordinary; maybe this is to discuss a new project or a new addition to the team. But something seems off. Your boss doesn’t look happy, and the first words out of their mouth are “There’s been talk around the office that you’ve been…” And things only go downhill from there. (more…)
You’re proud of the work you put in while on the job. But one day you walk by the breakroom and hear a co-worker say you frequently miss deadlines, come into work late, or steal their ideas for presentations.
Office gossip can be incredibly demoralizing, especially if you’re new on the job. Someone is spreading lies about you, but it’s their word against yours; is there really anything you can do about it? (more…)
Do you like your job?
According to a recent Gallup study, 51% of employees aren’t engaged at work. Meaning they just do what they have to do to get through the day, but don’t really have dreams for advancement. Another 16% are “actively disengaged,” meaning they complain all the time and bring the entire mood of the workplace down.
That’s about 2/3 of the workforce who don’t really like their jobs. But these individuals don’t quit. They keep working. Why?
When never saying “no” turns into a problem.
It’s a question they ask. Every. Single. Interview.
There’s only one right answer: “Yes.” Followed by examples of how great you are at working with a team.
And it’s true—if you can’t work well with others, you’re probably going to have trouble in any workplace.
However, there’s a limit. If you accommodate every single person’s request, from picking up lunch for a group meeting to taking notes, you become everybody’s “go-to guy (or gal).” It’s flattering to be thought of as the co-worker who can get any task done. But that can take a toll on you, both mentally and physically.
Here’s a few ways to tell it might be time to start embracing the word “no” (or a suitably polite equivalent).
You Say Yes. A Lot.
As noted by the Wall Street Journal, many employees now spend 85% of their time working with other team member in emails, meetings, conference calls, or instant messaging. That’s why it becomes a problem when you tell everyone you can handle anything.
You want to do a great job. So, you email a friend in a different department that you’ll send their request to your manager, help every customer (via phone or in-person) with any requests they have, and tell the front office coordinator you can cover the desk while they’re on lunch break. You like being reliable.
But before you know it, it’s two hours before you’re supposed to go home and you haven’t even started your own projects for the day.
You’re (Too) Stressed
When you say you can do several things for several different people, even if they’re all small, it all adds up. And saying “yes” makes you accountable. You said you’d do it, and don’t want to let everyone down.
But now you’re juggling too many things. You almost forget what you’re working on, who requested it, and when it’s due. And even if you can keep all those things straight, you still have your own responsibilities as well.
You’re Becoming Bitter
Eventually, initial feelings of pride over being the reliable person can turn sour. You don’t even remember why you started doing these things that aren’t in your job description in the first place! Why did people even ask you to handle responsibilities that aren’t yours? Why don’t they do it themselves! But now it’s too late to say no. You’re buried with no way out.
Or are you?
You’ve Accepted You’re A Yes (Wo)Man; Now What?
First off: you’re not alone. Being overwhelmed is a real problem, all across North America.
According to Robert Cross, lead author of an eight-year, 28 employer study on collaborative demands, “The volume and diversity of collaborative demands on employees have risen 50% in the past decade.”
But not all hope is lost. The article goes on to note that “changing just a few behaviors can regain 18% to 24% of the time spent collaborating.
- Taking time to focus, whether through meditation or whatever else relaxes you.
- Not answering every email. It’s okay, not everything is meant for you to respond to. If you’re addressed directly, feel free to forward it to the appropriate person.
- Having hard discussions. Sitting down with your boss or a particularly demanding co-worker to let them know you’re a bit overwhelmed. If you’re handling odd jobs for multiple people, it’s likely each person doesn’t know the full extent of everything you do.
And if you’re resolved to continue doing everything for everybody? At least try to schedule your workload down to the minute. Once you go past your scheduled time on a task, stop it and move to the next one. Prioritize your own projects and let people know you’ll be handling those responsibilities first.
Have you ever ended up as the workplace go-to person for basically everything? If it became overwhelming, how did you handle it? Let us know in the comments section below!
Or will you only end up hurt in the end?
In a given year, many adults spend more time with their coworkers than with their friends or family. That lack of socialization can make it tempting to turn your coworkers into friends. A day spent talking about new projects and meetings can turn into a social outing after work; you can be productive and get your social fix at the same time.
But is it really the right choice to turn your coworkers into friends? Honestly, it depends on who you want to be friends with, where you work, and a ton of other factors. Before trying to start up a workplace friendship, ask yourself these questions.
What’s at Stake?
First, let’s define what we mean by “workplace friendship.” We’re not talking about the cubicle buddy you make fun of the dress code with, or that guy in accounting that told a great joke before the 8 a.m. meeting. A “workplace friendship,” as we define it, is a relationship that combines your personal life with your work life. Meaning that you meet up after work for meals or go to events together.
There can be plenty of benefits to having a close friend at your place of work. They can inform you of project progress in a different department, chat with you about your strengths and weaknesses, or help you figure out how to tackle a particularly difficult work problem.
However, whenever there’s a large group of people, cliques are certain to form. Whether it’s the playground, high school lunchroom, or the nearest breakroom, it’s hard for people to be friends with everyone. And cliques result in people feeling left out, feelings they might act on by gossiping about you or just being difficult to work with.
When you begin a workplace friendship, that means opening yourself up to the possibility of that friendship failing and still having to work with that person. Maybe you complained about a coworker when you were friends but then got promoted, causing jealousy and frustration. They tell that coworker you said something negative way back when and suddenly you’re the office tyrant.
Are They Your Boss?
How good are you at setting boundaries? Some people are able to separate work and personal issues to such an extent that talking to them about deadlines is like dealing with a completely different person than the one you planned an upcoming get-together with.
If you can’t be that person, it’s probably not a good idea to pursue a friendship with your boss. That opens you up to a whole world of criticism. If it goes well, you have to deal with other employees thinking you get special treatment. If it turns out you aren’t actually that big a fan of your boss outside of work and no longer want to spend time with them, you’ll be in the awkward position of feeling like you have to meet with them after hours to keep your job. And you’re not being paid to be anyone’s friend.
As noted by Monster, Dr. Jan Yager, author of “Friendshifts: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives,” said “Same-level friendships are the easiest to maintain. Problems can arise if one friend has to supervise or evaluate the other.”
But what about when your friend gets promoted and is now your boss? The key is to set boundaries. Gone are the days when you could make fun of upcoming training classes or analyze a recent managerial decisions together. If you value the relationship, keep overly personal conversations to after hours and weekends.
Do They Want to be Friends with You?
The Week is pretty clear on where they stand on this issue in their article, given that the title is Your Coworkers are Not Your Friends. And to be honest, they’re right. This quote best sums up what they’re trying to say:
“That is not to suggest we cannot or should not make friends on the job. But it is to say most of our coworkers will only ever be coworkers (take a moment to think about how many of your friendships with former colleagues have any meaningful existence outside of Facebook), and inside the office, they should be treated accordingly.”
Nobody in the workplace is there to make friends. At the end of the day, most of us are here to make a paycheck. Liking your coworkers gives you more of a reason to come in every day (and those that like their coworkers enjoy their jobs to a much higher degree), but it’s not the base reason you work.
What that means is you shouldn’t assume your coworkers want to be your friend just because you do. If they do, great! But if they don’t seem comfortable with high-fives or keep rejecting your invitations to get dinner or hang out on the weekends, don’t take it personally. Although being friendly is often a must to thrive in the workplace, being friends is not. People are free to have their own interests and spend their personal time on their own terms.
Do you have any experiences with friendships gone wrong (or right) in the workplace? Let us know in the comments below!
And what does that mean for you, as an employee?
Throughout our lives, we’ve all worked for a variety of bosses. Some are compassionate and inspire us to excel in a number of ways. Others are independent leaders who have a tendency to be more assertive.
Daniel Goleman, of the Harvard Business School Press, outlines six basic boss types, illustrated below in an infographic by the Quid Corner, an online financial resource center. Although we all have our own ideal management type, the graphic also outlines the optimal ways to get along with each type of boss. So even if your manager isn’t naturally compatible with you, you’ll have some idea of how best to get along with them.
Finding the right company culture to align with your personality can be a big part of your engagement and success. With the many workplace types and countless personalities of job seekers, we wanted to know what Movin’ On Up readers look for in an ideal workplace.
According to our poll, the ideal workplace for most respondents is one that implements a casual dress code (18%), is relaxed (15%), and is on the smaller side (15%) in terms of company size. Additionally, approximately 13% of voters prefer a quiet workplace, while another 12% would prefer a remote office.
Companies that are fast-paced, large in size, or require a professional dress code were among the less desirable workplace attributes at 9%, 8%, and 6% respectively. The fewest Movin’ On Up readers selected “loud” as the word to describe their ideal workplace, garnering only 2% of votes.
Readers were also able to select the “other” option and provide their own responses. Of the 3% who selected that option, responses included:
- Mid-size company
- Flexible work schedule/control own hours
- “Employee-first” culture
- Friendly atmosphere
What else do you look for in an ideal workplace? Let us know in the comments section below!
Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.