Reality Check: Improving the Workplace from Within

If you are unhappy at your workplace and would like to change that situation, there’s a variety of choices available to you. Mind you, the choices may not necessarily be attractive. But choices exist, nevertheless.

One consistent suggestion is that if you don’t like the way things are, you can either change your reality or change your perception.

If you’ve decided that you will never find satisfaction, much less joy, in your current workplace, then departure may be your most effective option. Still, you have choices. You might choose to make an abrupt change, or you might take a more cautious approach. If you do choose to go abruptly, then my suggestion (as always) is to think through the consequences before you leap.

Even if you are unhappy, you may see that your workplace has positive attributes. Positives such as good working relationships, good money, or flexibility may be too significant for you to give up.

Does that mean that you are locked into taking the bad with the good?

Maybe. Or, you could try changing the reality of your workplace from within.

If you’ve been following these columns, then you know that a recurring theme is: the only behaviour we can control is our own. One person—that means you—can make a difference in a workplace. You can choose to be a leader, regardless of whether you hold a leadership position.

In what direction might you lead?

Look around. Chances are you’ll see that there are a few other people who’d like to be in a happier, more satisfying workplace, too. Talk to your coworkers. Talk to your management. Find out who else is interested in having a happier work environment.

The specific actions you take will depend on the specific needs, of course. And there are different approaches, such as:

  • What is the highest priority? If you could improve only one aspect of your workplace, what would have the greatest positive impact?
  • What is the easiest change? What small thing could you do that would make a noticeable difference in your workplace?

Whichever approach you choose, it’s helpful to get other people on board who share your wish to build a great place to work.

The work has to be done. Products have to be produced; services have to be provided, or the company is out of business (in which case there is no workplace at all.)

A calm, happy workplace is likely to be more productive than one where people are running around with their hair on fire, “managing” crisis after crisis, leaving a trail of folks who are angry, frustrated, or confused.

Calm and happy is a win-win for everybody: workers, managers, the community, and the company’s bottom-line.

If you find others who are prepared to start doing things differently, to make a happier workplace, then bring people together. Even having one other person who is willing to work with you can go a long way.

Keep in mind that it’s more effective to discuss, “What can we do?” rather than, “Whose fault is it?”

Stick to actions that you can control, instead of, “We can’t do that because…” And while it’s understandable that initial discussions may include why everything is so bad, concentrating on complaining and blaming likely won’t accomplish much.

When you work with others who also have a wish for a better workplace, you may learn that you have more control over the workplace environment than you thought!

But what if you are all alone in your wish for an improved workplace? Then perhaps changing your perceptions is worth a try. We’ll look at that possibility next time.

Would you like to change your workplace reality?

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