You really can’t “just be yourself” at work…

So I recently read a blog called Associates–Don’t “Just Be Yourself” that was written in July 2007.( I know… that’s forever old in the world of blogging but that’s also the good thing about blogs- they live on well after their ink has dried) And although it is written about summer interns and first year employees at law firms, I really feel that this is something that relates to ALL employees in ALL companies…regardless of how long they have been out of school.  And of course, ever since I read the blog I have noticed more and more in my own working environment examples of people who should not “just be themselves” at work.

First is the file clerk…someone who seemingly has the “lowest” job in the company but really doesn’t understand the amount of responsibility and power he has in a company.  Although until now, this position has been occupied only by temp-to-hire employees (none of which actually made it to the hire phase for lack of work performance), we finally had someone who seemed quite worthy of the position.  With his enthusiasm and “how can I help you” attitude everything was going great!  Until of course he was hired in.  Then everything you asked him to help with (yes, having to search for him and ask him to help you rather than him always being around and asking how he can help you) seemed to be a chore for him.  No enthusiasm to help anyone out, easy tasks would take 3x longer to complete, always surfing the internet and the “I’m better than this” attitude.  But where did it all come from???  When he was a temp-to-hire he wanted everyone to see his good side, how helpful he could be and how talented he was… once he was official that all went out the door.  Now he’s comfortable, doesn’t care what others here think of him professionally and is just plain lazy.

Next are the employees that have been in a company for 10+ years doing the same thing everyday with a seemingly unchanged routine.  Not only do they believe that they run the culture there, but also believe that anyone else who comes into their culture is never good enough to last here.  To them, change is the enemy and in the end will thus force good employees out of the company just to keep things mundane and unchanged throughout the years.  I feel very sorry for these types of people.  People who are ok with the status quo and never challenge anything.  Their job tasks and objectives remain unchanged each year and really are just stuck in a rut and not open to the possibility of change.

Finally, there are those who just haven’t grown up.  Still running around the office like it’s high school social hour, wanting to be the “most popular” in the office and never really caring that they aren’t viewed as a professional at all.  They wonder why when they come up with a great idea and present it that no one takes them seriously… well, people are watching EVERYTHING that you do here, whenever you do it.  Not just your demeanor in meetings but also how you dress each day, how you act in the lunchroom, they way you speak to coworkers and how you are on the phone.  All of this is taken into consideration when someone determines your professionalism.

I didn’t realize that when you graduated high school, went to college, graduated and got a job that really you were going right back into high school all over again.  I wish that it wasn’t so.

I’ll leave you with this quote from the blog that I really feel sums up what people should remember about themselves at work:

“You have to manage your image.  In other words: it isn’t what you are.  It’s what you manifest in your words and behavior, what other people see and hear of you.  Does this sound paranoid?  Sure.  But it’s healthy paranoia, and your career depends on it”

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One Response to You really can’t “just be yourself” at work…

  1. Interesting blog post. These are the types of issues that Human Resource Professionals deal with… The lack of motivation to do a job, dealing with organizational change, and office politics.

    Lack of motivation to do a job…I can relate to this because I myself have been a temp as a file clerk…and yes to survive in these types of positions…attitude is everything…

    There are many reasons why a person lacks motivation.

    1.Recognition and praise in the workplace – many people like to be recognized for their work, it gives then a sense of meaning and purpose, it makes them feel like they are really making a contribution to the organization. If an employees work goes unnoticed, then they do not feel like they are part of a team or making a valuable contribution.

    2. Mundane, repetative or mindless work. If the work is not challenging to them they will not feel like they are growing professionally. Its not just about doing a job but also about opportunities to grow professionally.

    3. Opportunities for advancement within the company. Again this goes back to recognition of work. If employees are given opportunities (to grow professionally, and to make more money)then they will want to stay. If a company has a structure to promote those employees who do well, then employees will stay.

    4. Company culture and Relationships – Is teamwork and cooperation encouraged at work? Are employees proactive? Are positive relationships formed with coworkers? Does the company value diversity? Show respect and integrity to others? If they do then others will be motivated to work together and will be productive. If the company and its employees are not working towards a common mission, vision and goals, then that is when the organization will start having problems…employees will become disengaged or withdraw from their work.

    Dealing with organizational change

    Its Human Resources job to make sure that change within the organization runs smoothly. Many people resist change. But sometimes change is necessary for the survival of the organization. Over communication is essential to making sure change happens. Employees have to have an open attitude willing to listen in order to change. This means you must convince the employee that the change will benefit them. By showing the employees the benefit of change and giving them the ‘big picture’ as to how the change will affect them and the rest of the organization, you change their attitude and beliefs about the change. They will be more open to change…but there also must be a relationship of trust. If an employee has total trust in their employer, then they will have no problem dealing with the change. Its in organizations where fear, distrust, cynicism, negativity lives where an organization with have a lot of trouble trying to change.


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