I like to think that I’m right all the time. The truth is, I’m not, and I am always, despite my resistance, learning something new.
At 39, I’ve been working since the age of 12, if you count my first babysitting gig. I do. I had to be responsible, dependable, and resourceful when dealing with a 5-year-old boy and a baby. It was one of the best work experiences I had, actually, and it was because I had to be really real and honest to the kid I was watching. A strategy that ultimately proved to suit both of us.
It was probably when I hit the movie theater job at age 16 that I was starting to catch on to the powers that be, aka bosses. There were managers who wore different color polyester vests than my coworkers and me. They were serious and skulked around making sure we picked up the popcorn in every corner. I was onto the “them” in the power equation and just mainly tried to stay out of their way.
Since then my professional jobs have been mainly in editorial or communications. I’ve always been able to see a different or better, and more efficient way to do day-to-day things, or enhance the culture, but haven’t been able to effectively relay my ideas. The reason is fear and because speaking my mind – even with the best of intentions – feels like a risk for me.
I figure this is a double-edged sword, as a highly sensitive person I’m able to receive and perceive more than I’d like sometimes. And as someone who was surrounded by complainers most of her life, my ability to criticize and see fault is high. Add to that my anti-oppression perspective and I am looking at the workplace through multiple lenses.
On the flip side, however, many companies have blind spots and don’t understand why they may not be able to handle growth, see star talent leave after 12 months, and feel jealous of what their competitors are gaining attention for in the marketplace. Management needs to make sure that their people on the ground floor believe in what they are doing – not for the company’s growth, but for their individual growth as well.
In many cases, either management is oblivious to what employees are really talking about behind their backs while they practice mediocrity to ensure their security, or they don’t care about the morale and well-being of their people.
For the employee, however, that finds fault in every workplace they step into, they are going to be hard-pressed to find an environment that is perfection. No job is perfect, even the perfect job. Yet again, employees who are able to bring a critical eye carrying the company’s best interests to management, the result can dramatic transformation. Truth is power and success is collaboration at heart.
Don’t let star talent walk away because they are able to see your company shine in new ways. Because underneath that hard edge of information is a new surface to be discovered.