WE HAVE BROUGHT our children and pets to work and regularly dress down
on Fridays to improve relations and productivity. Now it is time to
do something really revolutionary bring ourselves to work! It
is odd to consider something taken for granted so much as lugging our
personality and life into the office day by day; yet, my experience
has been that most employees bring only a fragment of themselves to
work. Call it the "work self" or the "company automaton";
whatever it is called, it is far from a full-blown person. We are not
getting enough out of work and work is not getting enough out of us
when we leave our passion for life at home, waiting for the weekends.
We are not getting enough out of work
and work is not getting enough out of us when we leave our passion for
life at home, waiting for the weekends.
Linda did just that. She would go to the office believing that work
was a financially necessary but fundamentally unrewarding setting, impervious
to change. She did her job as a computer analyst adequately but felt
the stress of deadlines, unreal expectations, and 12 years of working
for someone else, had finally demoralized her. She said she was half-alive.
She recorded her frustration in her journal:
April, I was having a tough time at work. There was a project
with creeping scope, and a crisis-driven manager who lacked confidence
in me. I was insecure and driven. The project had a planning meeting.
Even though I kept telling my manager I had too much on my plate
and that our deadlines were unrealistic, she didn't listen, and
the directives remained unchanged. In desperation, I called Art
because I was at my wit's end. I had tried everything. I felt
burned out with no resources left to meet the challenge ahead
It sounded to me as if a "bring yourself to work" approach
might be the right one for Linda. It took several weeks for us to spin
out the metaphor.
Her first objection was that in bringing herself to the job, the job
would suffer. It would become merely a context for doing whatever she
wanted. Our personal hopes and the way we spend eight hours a day are
supposed to be at odds with each other! Youd take the work out
of work if you tried this.
|Do you actually think
that if you brought yourself to work all you would do is surf
the Internet and phone friends on company time? (She admitted
that sometimes she would like to. I said that that was only an
expression of frustration.) Linda, you dont do that when
you bring yourself into a friendship. You dont just exploit
other people and get them to meet all your needs. Ive seen
you in action. You actually extend yourself for your friends.
You try to pick up on their needs and meet them within reason.
Why not try this at work?
At work you are on a team with a supervisor and other workers.
You recognize the goals they have in your work context. Youre
in it together. I know you love getting things accomplished with
other people, not impossible things but possible things. How about
sitting down with your super and asking what has to be done from
the company point of view and then figure out what could be done
if everybody on your team pulled together. Of course, if you are
a team you want to make sure no one gets side-tracked through
stress. So being realistic about the goal is important.
How many hours of overtime will each of you offer this project?
How will you hold each other accountable for your weekly goals?
Is this an exceptional time from your employers point of
view or does there always seem to be an emergency? What kind of
incentives can you think of that will keep everyone going?