things i’ve learned at work.
“…a professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn’t feel like it.”
– Alistair Cooke (1945- ), British-born American journalist, broadcaster. Six Men, 1995, p. 136.
I think today at work I had a realization of sorts. I’ve always been kind of shy to back away from conflicts at work in the hopes that people should always be able to get along. I’ve always thought that by communicating better that people would be able to understand one another and that as a result, there would be less tension, conflict, and peace, which ultimately would make everyone happier. But today, I have come to accept that that tension and conflict is a part of not only work, but also life.
There are always those people that make you feel uneasy just by their presence. Whether it is past experience with them, or some recent occurence, sometimes it it is hard to feel completely comfortable being around them. We can try to avoid them as much as possible, or even treat them coldly when forced to deal with them. However, dealing with people at work means we need to keep an even keel and try to be as professional as possible. And if we can’t deal with certain people at a given point in time, it is best to ignore them as best as possible while staying focused on the work at hand. Eventually things will blow over…
Sometimes people just can’t get along. Whether it be someone that doesn’t listen, someone that thinks they are always right… there are always going to be conflicts between people in the group based on their beliefs of what is right and best. It is very difficult to manage and balance various personalities within the group to maintain optimal work efficiency. But again, I feel that strong communication between parties and action on the communication is what builds a strong team. People need to feel like they are heard when they have issues, and that they are being dealt with. When their complaints go unnoticed and seemingly ignored or unappreciated, it makes for low worker morale.
Dealing with your peers is one part of work. Establishing a strong working relationship with your immediate supervisor and even his/her higher ups is even more important. This kind of relationship I’ve had bad experiences with, and good experiences with. I think when I was younger, I had a harder time trying to understand how to develop a professional relationship with my supervisor. I was inattentive, uncommunicative, and arrogant. I was gone after two months at that job. I was too prideful and too confident that things would just work out because I was young, felt entitled, thought I was going to conquer the world, and brash. After some time off, I matured a little and realized I needed to be more proactive in establishing a strong relationship with my supervisor. Every worker-boss relationship has a different dynamic, and maybe I just wasn’t in the right situation before, or I wasn’t matured… but I feel like what I’ve learned at my current job I will be able to carry over into whatever future career plans I have.
Other things I’ve learned are how to multitask and solve problems. I remember going into an interview awhile back and they asked these questions to me and I did not have a cogent answer. Today if asked how I would juggle many things at once… I would reply by saying…
Every situation that calls for multitasking requires a more in depth analysis of what needs to be done and how to go about completing it. Depending on what the company needs, I would adapt or juggle my priorities to fit in line with what the company needs. Also, sometimes it is possible to perform many tasks in parallel if we schedule, plan, and organize our day in a way that makes it possible to be that efficient. Or, it is possible that multitasking could be facilitated by better teamwork between people in the group. There are many ways to finish more than you thought possible, and I have experience being flexible in how I go about handling various tasks at the same time.
One example is at work when I have to take on other people’s responsibilities when they are out on vacation. I would get a head start on the next days work by staying late to prepare a little bit to save myself some time the next day. I would also communicate with the other members of my group and see if they would be able to help. In addition to handling the other person’s work, I was able to still finish my work in a timely manner because of teamwork and organization.
Another thing I want to say about teamwork is… there are certain workplaces that encourage creativity and foster team building. I feel like if less people are given more work than they individually cannot accomplish, they are more likely to work together and find ways to have synergy. If there is too little work divided amongst people in a group, people will end up competing and bickering and sitting around wondering what else to do. People for the most part want to be busy at work. It keeps their mind off how annoying their coworkers can be at times. If people have enough work to do… there will be less time to make drama.
Now, I want to talk about solving problems at work. Solving problems is about patience and understanding the issues and then developing a quick plan of attack to get things running back on schedule as soon as possible. Most of the time, solving problems that arise requires quick thinking and improvisational candor. Make it work however necessary. Sometimes, with experience, spotting problems and developing solutions comes more easily. We develop mental heuristics for each of these familiar situations and program our response to problems from those experiences. Other times, when faced with a completely new problem and situation that everyone is inexperienced in, it requires a different kind of problem solving acumen.
Issues are complex and can arise from many small problems along the workflow. When you don’t know exactly what is wrong with something, see what changed between the time something was working, and now when the problem appeared. By tracing back your work step by step, we are able to identify places that problems could have occurred. Diagnosing problems is an improvisational art. Fixing things requires creative mental acuity that I find fun. Obviously, it is frustrating when things don’t work like they should… and no matter how what we try, things just don’t seem to work out….. but I think I’ve come to be okay with that too.
The things that are too big for me to fix or solve, someone else can take on. I do what I can… to the best of my ability. And anytime, I make mistakes or come across new problems, it is an opportunity to learn something and to improve myself. And hey… there are just going to be some lingering unresolved issues sometimes at work and in life… and we have to be okay with that too.
Lastly, I feel that the biggest thing I have learned at work is to be confident in yourself and to try to maintain a positive attitude. It is so easy to get down and negative sometimes, and no one wants to be around you. No one ever got anywhere in life by going it alone.