The Night BeforePosted: April 20, 2015
I am leaving my job tomorrow. It’s an eerie feeling as I’ve given the past three years of my life to this company. Half of the time spent was great, the other half not so much. For the purpose of this post, we’ll call the company “Backwards Inc.”
I’m writing this because it is the first time in a long time I am going with my instincts. Most people would consider this move impractical and reckless, but I’m doing it any ways. I have nothing else lined up, and gambling the entire next 2-3 months on finding another job, and fount. If I come out on top I’ll be ecstatic, if I don’t I’ll gladly take the line up of “I told you so’s.” I’m too stubborn not to learn from my own mistakes.
Through the entire retrospective exercise leading up to this decision, I’ve learned a few key things. I’ll spare you the gruesome details, but here they are the main takeaways from this experience:
1. Some people just want to be heard – Not so much for me anymore, but many people I work with have no outlet for which they can vent. Yes, I think venting is healthy, but it really goes no where. You’re venting because you haven’t crossed the threshold of taking action. Many people at Backwards Inc just want to be heard. Don’t worry – most of them aren’t going to quit on you, but embracing their pains instead of showing them why yours are bigger is far more effective.
2. Listen & Understand – I feel that great managers/leaders turn bad situations into wins for their team the best they can. One way to do this is listen and understand what your employees are going through. Find ways to turn their bad situations into wins. This can be setting small milestones up for them and recognizing their achievements as they knock them down. Many managers turn to a “rally the troops” method, which is essentially an extended version of a monologue nobody wants to hear. Find some wins to put on the board, big or small.
3. Be Direct – Backwards Inc reeks of passive aggressiveness. The office is like a game of telephone played by the same high school students. You’ll hear about your performance indirectly. This skews expectations, and depending on the employee, damaging to their output. I’ve seen a careless remark go along way.
4. Let your employees be themselves – I’m a huge fan of Elon Musk, and have heard that he doesn’t care too much about personality quirks, but he expects a lot out of his employees. I think most, if not all organizations should adopt this method. Keep your people challenged, but let them do it in their own way. Give them a chance to shine with their own brilliance, and reward them for it.
My last point is be cognizant of your mental health. Some places such as Backwards Inc will wear you down to the point you’ve become a different person. Do not let yourself slip away. Many people at Backwards Inc became entirely different people due to the environment it had created. If you feel yourself slipping more and more each day, jump. Nothing else is worth more than keeping yourself sane. I like to consider myself a pretty optimistic person, and lately I’ve been extremely negative. I easily sink to finding the worst in every situation, and instead of fighting for progress, I have been fighting for complacency from the fortress of my own cubicle. I hate to admit it, but the more things fired at me by people who didn’t know what they were doing, the more I just wanted to be alone and unbothered. It was a defense mechanism, and it’s not who I am.
Maybe I’ll look back at this in a year and be broke & unemployed. That might call for a fun edit to this blog. Fuck it – I’ll take my chances.