We often blame our bosses or co-workers or “the company” for troubles at work.
We tell ourselves the reason we don’t get what we deserve at work is the fault of someone else.
But is it really? Or are we the ones to blame for our lack of career success?
Research suggests that when we allow our minds to focus on the negative and allow doubts and insecurities to overwhelm positive thoughts, we set ourselves up for results that don’t reflect our best work.
A survey last year from VitalSmarts found that 97 percent of employees described themselves as having one of these five traits: lacking reliability, making not-my-job comments, procrastinating, resisting change or projecting a negative attitude.
That’s why behavioral expert and business adviser Beverly Flaxington says employees need to stop talking about outside career saboteurs and instead focus on the dramatic difference they can make by changing the way they behave and think at work.
“I think many people just get stuck. They think their boss is a jerk, they hate the way their company treats people and they are really just frustrated in their jobs,” Flaxington says.
Mired in negativity, workers begin to act out their woe-is-me attitude, she says. They don’t make deadlines, they fail to offer new ideas and they have a snarky attitude with colleagues — all behaviors that undermine their ability to be happy at work or get ahead.
“Get out of the victim mode,” she says. “There is a lot you can control and influence.”
Flaxington, author of Make Your SHIFT: The Five Most Powerful Moves You Can Make to Get Where You Want to Go, (ATA Press, $15.95) says you can break the negativity mode and take a more proactive approach to making work better:
Write it down. • Think about where you want to be in your career, and then give yourself a date to accomplish a goal.
Ask yourself if you are on track to meet that goal based on what you are doing now. If not, what skills do you need to gain, and what may be stopping you from achieving that outcome? Don’t get down if you’re in a job that won’t move you toward this goal, but keep that written statement in front of you daily so you can stay committed to it.
Vent. • List your gripes.
Write down the things that bug you about your job, things you can’t stand or complaints. Now put each of those items into three categories: what is within your control, what you may be able to influence and what is out of your control.
Cross out what you can’t control and focus on what you can do with the remaining items. By looking at obstacles in a proactive way — as something you’re capable of overcoming — you will feel less negative and stuck.
Change your communication style. • Maybe your boss makes decisions on the fly, but your work style is just the opposite.
Unfortunately, your careful consideration of the pros and cons comes across as procrastination to the boss and maybe even a criticism of his or her fast-action style.
Learn to mirror more of your boss’ words, body language and communication style and you soon will find interactions smoother.
Embrace change. • Talk to mentors to get their feedback on how to make some changes.
Study successful people within your organization and think about how you might adopt some of their habits to become more successful. Instead of being grumpy about changes, think about how they can make you better because you’re learning something new.
Give ’em a break. • Maybe you don’t like the boss’ management style or the way your co-workers do certain tasks.
That’s doesn’t make them terrible people. You need to remember they are often doing the best they can.
Approach them with a positive attitude and try to be as helpful as you can.
“I really do believe every day is a new day,” Flaxington says. “No matter your age, drop the attitude that you need something outside of yourself to change. Just try some different things and see if they don’t make an impact. You have more power than you think you have.”
Anita Bruzzese can be reached c/o Gannett ContentOne, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, VA, 22107.