W-1698 – Part II
These questions all come from my own experience in the business world, and are included in my book, How to Thrive from 9 to 5. There may be other equally important questions, but I believe if you can score well on these ten questions, you’re doing a good job of thriving on your job. Let’s consider our next question:
- During breaks and lunch do you and your co-workers usually complain about the company or boss?
Often that’s the major topic of conversation. If you find yourself in that mode, chances are you’re just surviving, not thriving on your job. Let me read you a passage from Ecclesiastes 10: “Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird in the sky may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say” (v. 20). Solomon is giving us some very good advice here. To paraphrase, he says, “Don’t talk about anybody behind their backs, but particularly people in authority and control. Those words seem to always get back to them.”
I was counseling a young woman who is in a difficult job, and I said, “Be sure you don’t talk about your boss in any negative way to anyone else. Those little gossip sessions have a way of getting around, and they’ll come back to haunt you.” She said, “But I already have done that.” I advised her to stop right then and there. Whatever damage had been done, at least don’t add to it.
Maybe your work environment is full of gossip, backbiting and office politics—that’s not uncommon. You want to be certain you don’t get caught up in that bad habit. It’s contagious, so watch it closely. Many people have done irreparable damage to their careers and job ambitions with loose tongues. I keep reminding myself that you don’t have to say everything you think!
- Do you have a co-worker that drives you crazy?
Maybe it’s a personality clash, or the way he or she works—or doesn’t work. Perhaps it’s the attitude that person has toward you or just some irritating habit. If you continue to allow that person to affect you negatively, you’re going to find that you can’t really thrive on your job because that person is always a thorn in your side.
With a difficult co-worker, you need to put a plan of action into place. It begins with daily prayer, asking God to help you see that person as he does. Then get to know that person better. Take him or her to lunch or coffee. Usually that helps greatly. Go out of your way to be accommodating. If that proves unsuccessful in improving the relationship, you may need to be more confrontational. Or…you may just have to learn to live with it. But what doesn’t work is to allow that person to keep you in survival mode when you want to be thriving.
- Do you feel you have adequate support from your management?
Certainly support is an important element in liking your job and thriving in it. But I find that employees are very ready to complain about the boss. Let me tell you that managing is not as easy as it looks! If you’ve never been in a management position, keep that old Indian proverb in mind: You shouldn’t criticize anyone until you’ve walked a mile in his or her moccasins.
Now, your grievances about lack of support may be valid. If so, do something pro-active to try to change that situation. Set up a time to talk with your boss and give him or her an explanation of what you feel you need in order to work effectively for the company. It may be a simple misunderstanding that can be cleared up more easily than you ever thought.
If the situation doesn’t change, you must either find an alternative for the support you need, learn how to operate without it, or find another job. What doesn’t make sense is to keep on in the survival mode you’re in now.
- Have you ever done the following:
- Asked for more responsibility?
- Suggested a better system to give more efficient service?
- Proposed a re-write of your job description?
- Asked for a training session?
- Checked out local opportunities for furthering your education and/or skills on your own?
James told us, “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). I think this happens in many situations. If you’re finding your job boring or to be a dead-end, ask for more responsibility. Write a description of the job you’d really like to have—even if it doesn’t exist but you think it could be helpful—and take it to your manager. Maybe you need some extra training to be qualified for another job. Have you asked for that training? Maybe you need to ask again, or find a way to get the training on your own.
Certainly, you don’t want to be a pest! However, if you don’t express an interest or desire, how is your company or manager going to know? They’re not mind readers, so go for what you’d like. If you do it in the right way and spirit, it will not be viewed as a negative, even if they can’t do exactly what you want. But if you’re thinking from the viewpoint of what would be good for the company as well as for you, you may be able to sell a new idea that would work to everyone’s benefit.
Now, try asking yourself these survival questions:
- Do you often do any of the following:
- Arrive late for work?
- Turn in assignments late or miss deadlines often?
- Take long lunch hours?
- Make too many personal phone calls at work?
- Often leave your workstation unattended to chit-chat with others?
If you let yourself get sloppy in these areas, it would indicate at least a carelessness on your part, but more likely it would show a bad or wrong attitude toward your responsibilities and duties as a worker. The Bible tells us to do whatever our hands find to do with all our hearts. God doesn’t like half-hearted work habits; it doesn’t bring honor to him. Besides, when you walk out at the end of the day and you know you haven’t given your best, that guilt will drag you down.
Check up on the little things in your work habits and see if you’re just getting by. That’s surviving, not thriving, and it’s really no fun to be just a survivor.
- Do you find these things characterize your work:
- Return phone calls promptly?
- Keep track and follow-up on every commitment and promise you have made, and every responsibility that you have?
- Compliment others who do a good job?
- Ask co-workers for advice and comments, when appropriate?
In other words, are you dependable? Are you considerate of the way you react and respond to your co-workers? It’s easy to identify the problems that other people have, but first we need to check out our own behavior. Jesus said “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3-4)
These are the kinds of things you expect and appreciate from others, so make sure you’re not guilty of some of the bad habits that irritate you in others. That will go a long way toward making you into one who thrives rather than just survives.
- Are you worried about losing your job?
In this age of down-sizing, lots of people have a legitimate concern as to whether their job will be here next month or next year. What can you do if you’re worried about losing your job? Of course, the main thing is prayer. Keep learning that your source is the Lord—not a company or an income. We learn more about trusting God when our income is threatened than we do at most any other time in our lives.
Then, get creative and pro-active about your future. Learn new skills to prepare you for a possible lay-off. Find out what industries are likely to be hiring and prepare yourself to be qualified for that kind of work. Workers in the future are going to have to be more versatile and flexible in order to thrive in the job market. Perhaps you can think of ways to be self-employed. That’s going to be more and more viable in our service-oriented economy.
Don’t sit back and wait for someone to dictate your future. Pray much about it, seek guidance from God and trusted friends, and act before you’re acted upon. That’s how you’ll thrive, not just survive, in this new climate which is much more uncertain and changing than what we’ve been used to.
Well, this self-test should give you some feedback on how you’re doing. I’m convinced that we cannot be good witnesses for Jesus Christ if we are simply in survival mode on our jobs. Because many of us find ourselves in these difficult and changing job environments, we have an unusual opportunity to demonstrate the power of Christ in our lives. Anybody can thrive in easy times, but it takes an unusual power to thrive in tough times.
That’s the power we have because we have Jesus. I encourage you to remember that you work for him, and he will reward you for good work. He will also hold you accountable for performing less-than-your-best, so I hope you’ll get serious about thriving, not just surviving, on your job!
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