Managing your career in a complex work environment can be challenging, regardless how tough you are. We hear and read everywhere that building adaptability and resilience is key to building a successful career, which I completely advocate for, but the reality is when is too much just too much.
Generally, we all go to work with the greatest of intentions. We get there, we develop relationships, we want to do a great job, we want to work with others effectively and we want to support those around us to do the same. But what if it just doesn’t happen like that? What if due to different management styles, different personalities, different goals, and different ideas mean that we just cannot meet our own expectations?
We may be able to do a great job, but what if doing that great job still doesn’t allow us to achieve our own career goals or expectations? What if the work environment, the personalities and the management styles above and below us mean that we might be able to do our jobs to the best of our ability but not succeed in who it is we want to be in our careers?
This is a challenge that as a career coach I have witnessed, supported and guided on, numerous times. And not every situation or answer is straightforward, or comfortable.
Imagine this, you have a great employee that is greatly committed to their role. You have great managers that to the best of their ability are supporting their team members. But, you also have individuals with influence that are focused solely on their own career trajectory, and do not seek to blend their approach to the benefit of their team or those around them.
The challenge here is mainly for the team members that report to this individual, are they still provided the opportunity to advance under this leadership style or not? There are many great success stories that demonstrate people can still achieve their own goals under managers that are self-focused. However, if you are an individual that is struggling with this situation, here are some tips to support you on this journey:
1. How difficult is the situation for you personally?
The first and most important area is to understand how the situation is actually affecting you personally. If you are in the situation that the management style is having an impact on your mental health or ability to do your job, you need to look at the options you have around this. This may include talking with your HR representative to receive guidance on how to approach the situation, is mediation an option to talk through the challenges?
It is always important to analyze how the situation is impacting you personally and seek guidance and support to address this accordingly.
2. Is it just personality?
Personality differences have a great impact on the workforce. Whether it is in the way we send or receive communication, we are all more comfortable with our own needs, and without realizing, can expect others to communicate to us in the same way. Look at the situation and try to understand if it is just personality that is creating these challenges.
If this is the case, do some research to understand more about how they communicate and how your personality perceives that communication. How can you improve the relationship through understanding their style more intricately and understanding your needs more openly? Can you be adaptable and ask the same of them?
3. Is it manageable?
One thing to consider at all times is whether or not the situation is actually manageable for you? If you feel that you want and can work through the challenges, taking your time to plan a logical approach in understanding their style and your needs, will this support you in working more effectively with this individual? Will you learn from needing to do this? Will this help them as well and are they willing to be adaptable (as we all should be in work environments) to support the needs of all of those around them?
We will all face periods of adversity and challenge brought on by the goals and needs of others in our work environment. What we need to do however is to take the time to sit back and analyze the situation in detail, can the situation improve and will we be happy if these improvements occur?
The hardest challenge will come when you need to analyze what to do if you realize that the situation cannot change, or if you will still not be comfortable in the environment if it does. Sometimes we reach a time in our careers where we both outgrow our roles and our work environment. If this is the case, then ensure you work to maintain a pleasant work environment whilst considering the options that are available to you that will support your growth; both internally and externally.
Your career is yours to own and it is important to ensure that you put yourself on the pathway to your success and manage your own direction and decisions to get you there.