I was watching “A Bug’s Life” with my sons over the weekend. For anyone who hasn’t seen this Pixar movie, it’s essentially about a battle between domineering grasshoppers and hard working ants. The grasshoppers rule over the ants until the very end of the show. The ants finally realize the power they have when they join together. It helps that they outnumber the grasshoppers by a huge margin. As a united team, the ants fight off the over controlling grasshoppers, and live happily ever after.
Watching this movie made me think about all the unhappy employees out there with over controlling bosses. They, like the ants, feel as if they have little power to make big changes. As a result, they just try to mind their own business, do their job, and get their paycheck. Does that sound familiar to anyone? I tend to write blogs for those few people at the top of an organization, the grasshoppers, who can actually make major changes to the work environment if they set their mind to it. But employees outnumber bosses and in reality they often have MORE power to influence the work environment than even their boss. Think about the new policy that no one follows unless the boss is watching!
Our Echo 4 principle is about the value of making people feel important. This principle is based on the notion that if I don’t feel important, I’m not going to try very hard. Clearly there are things a manager can do to make every employee feel like an important part of the team, but even if you don’t manage a large team, you still have tremendous power to change the work environment. Rather than settle for a boring job that has little meaning to you, here are a few ideas to consider.
· Think of something about your job that you really dislike. If you were the boss, what would you do differently? Gather ideas from others. Research the topic. Formulate a plan that clearly shows how this idea will improve customer service, profit margins, or something else equally important to the boss. Present it with a positive attitude. Offering solutions will serve you better than offering complaints. Even if the boss doesn’t go for your plan, you can develop a reputation as a creative problem solver and perhaps you’ll be considered for that next raise or promotion.
· Make your boss look good. Consider the people whose advice you are willing to take. Are they the people who criticize you behind your back or try to come across as being much smarter than you? Probably not. Put yourself in the manager’s shoes and try to offer helpful advice and assistance. Building a trusted relationship will make it much more likely that the boss will let you run with that next great idea.
· If you’re bored in your job, maybe there’s something more exciting you could do. Perhaps there’s a better way to do the same old thing. Maybe there’s a new twist on an old product or service. Take some time to learn. Many of us focus on proving ourselves in what we do well rather than on developing ourselves and learning more. The more you learn, the more ideas you’ll develop and the more opportunities you’ll recognize.
Feeling powerless in your work environment is certainly a good way to zap all your energy and enthusiasm. I don’t think that any of us is ever truly powerless; we just choose not to act. But life can get kinda miserable and boring when we feel that way!