This has been a challenging time to be in a job. The industry doesn’t really matter, although the industries that I’m close to — housing, multi-family, media, marketing and publishing — have experienced challenges on an order of magnitude that none of us could ever imagine. But for everyone, the work of going to work, doing what you’re asked to do, managing people and dealing with customers is fraught with an undercurrent of anxiety and uncertainty.
This is at the core of the national mood. A quick look at Gallup’s Economic Averages shows that the suppressed mood of Americans is barely changed from a year ago, despite a perception that the outlook for the job market is somewhat better.
Our day-to-day work life lacks the public and external validation, such as raises, promotions and bonuses, that helped boost our sense of self and well-being. I was reminded of this over the past week as we went through budget reviews at my company, NCI. Our teams have been incredible over the past two years, making balanced decisions about people, products and resources even while the business conditions have deteriorated around them. We’ve preserved our company, have improved our operating abilities and have innovated in exciting and promising ways. As we went through the presentations, I was struck by just how much has been done to define exactly what the benefit of each of our different services is, and to clear away any statement, activity or process that is not critical to delivering that benefit.
I was also struck by how little external reward there is in the current business climate. I can only recognize people and thank them.
But does that recognition have the same value as the more tangible rewards that were readily available in the past?
Maybe it does, if I’m able to be honest and authentic, and if my engagement with others is genuine.
In a reflective blog post this week, the writer Scott Berkun exemplifies the power of candor.
In a list of his greatest professional mistakes, Berkun shuns cataloging business failures to take stock of how aspects of his nature have kept him from realizing opportunities for growth.
Not learning to draw. I’m a visual thinker, at least some of the time. When I work with people on anything, I work at whiteboards and on big sheets of paper. But I can’t actually draw with sufficient aesthetics to warrant posting them here, or including them in books. This is a liability. But it’s one I plan to correct this year, as one of my goals for 2010 is to learn to draw. I’m working from Drawing on the Right side of the brain, and it’s going well so far.
The kind of self-awareness and honesty that Berkun promotes in this post is of great value today. In order to achieve a sense of balance, calm and productivity, each one of us can benefit from acceptance of ourselves and our circumstances. In that acceptance we’ll find tremendous opportunity.
I’ve had this conversation with a number of my colleagues over the past couple of years. At the center of rapid change, it is easy to lose your bearings.
As a manager, keeping those bearings is important to helping the people around you. I was reminded of this as I read an article from The Gallup Organization that looked at how to bolster employee confidence during these lean times.
The secret is to take a genuine interest in their future, to help them learn new skills and gain new experiences.
“This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.” Employees’ optimism about their standard of living also rises steadily with their level of agreement that they have opportunities at work to learn and grow. In fact, employees who strongly agreed in early 2009 that they have such opportunities were significantly more likely to feel their standard of living was getting better (50%) than to feel it was getting worse (33%).
The feeling of making progress against the long-term goal of their professional life creates a sense of mastery and confidence that diminishes the short-term discouragements of an adverse business cycle, the Gallup researchers say.
Two important touch points for a challenging time: Accept who you are and take a genuine interest in the people around you. These are enduring truths that are too easy to lose sight of when times are tough. But, these truths are about accepting the human spirit, being humbled by our lives and shedding the illusion that we can control the fates.
SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL
Subscribe via Feed
- 175 vs. 11,300: Tumblr, meet Yahoo!
- Media Brands Need to Be Inclusive of The Market Influencers, Regardless of Their Identity
- Mobile Users Are Becoming More Valuable To Advertisers, Research Shows
- Media & Information M&A reflects a growing consensus on the drivers of value
- How Can The Sandy Hook Atrocity Happen? A Statistical Look at the Perpetrators of School Violence
- Effective Company Values Make Strategy PersonalIs being a decent person optional in your company? Then why do you have a set of values that addresses how people feel? Or their moral behavior? If I have to remind someone not to steal when they show up for work, they shouldn’t be working for me. I met with a talented executive recently […]
- Have You Given Your Brand a Digital Refresh?Brand identity is an amorphous thing. I’ve always applied a simple question to Brand: Does it capture what makes it different? Different is the starting point for every brand conversation. It leads to a lot of great questions that everyone that interacts with the brand can get excited about. Talented brand stewards know […]
- Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift: Letting Their Stories Get Away From ThemWhen teen superstar Justin Bieber posted his 300-word rant on Instagram objecting to how the media covers his life, his health and everything else, the media did a figurative head nod. Here’s another celebrity with thin skin in the midst of a digital and life meltdown. But, I don’t see it […]
- Taking Control of Your Story Means Telling It, Starting from the TopWhen you have a good story, stick to it. When you don’t have a good story, don’t hide. I was reminded of the power of these maxims during two meetings in Washington, DC this week. In the first, the head of a mid-sized ad agency told me about his first big political campaign. He was […]
- DigitalSherpa uses its Design Bloggers Conference to energize its brandA big blogger party wound down in Los Angeles last week that is a great example of how to leverage social media to enhance your brand. The concept is simple: our client, Digital Sherpa, brought together a couple of hundred bloggers in the design space to talk about blogging, to meet […]
- Effective Company Values Make Strategy Personal
Your recent pages:This is how you got here... The Media Transformation > The important of accepting yourself and engaging with the people around you in challenging times