I’ve always been a fan of keeping options open. I like choices.
Just because you may not actively be seeking other employment, if you’re contacted by a recruiter, what does it hurt to explore the opportunity he/she presents to you? You can always say no. But what if it’s a fantastic opportunity? Or your dream job? How would you know unless you looked into it a little further? Recruiters and hiring managers may be reaching out to you hoping to woo you away from your current position with a more challenging role, a different type of role altogether, better compensation, a more robust benefits package, retirement plans, stock options, and/or additional perks – such as a more flexible work schedule, the ability to work from home, unlimited vacation, paid volunteer time off, etc..
Maybe you’re working for a great company, but you're not so happy with your current position and/or duties. You don’t feel challenged. The work doesn’t inspire you. The duties are just plain tedious and aren’t working your strengths. Or maybe you’re really great at those duties, but they make up 90% of the job, and you just plain hate doing them.
Maybe you would be happy in your current position if it weren't for _____ (fill in the blank). Your supervisor/manager is a narcissistic, egotistical jerk. There are toxic people on your team that the company seems to hold on to for far too long despite your sound advice and counsel. There is a complete lack of accountability, integrity, transparency. Leadership doesn’t behave in alignment with company values. The compensation isn’t aligned with the competitive market range. The benefits package is lacking. The work impedes on your ability to be present in your life outside of work – lack of flexibility and/or paid time off. Literally, this list is endless.
If you’re in this type of situation, I think it’s time to really consider whether or not you’re in the right position and/or right company. First, you can’t control others. You can only control yourself – your thoughts, feelings, behavior, responses, etc. Second, with that in mind, you have a decision to make. Here are your options:
If you’re that unhappy in your current role/company, take the necessary steps to look for a role that better suits you and meets your needs. There is absolutely no point in continually complaining about the company, the team, your boss, the position, the whatever. Notice that there wasn’t a third option: Stay and complain. This is not an option. I totally get that there are often a lot of things to complain about. But the question is, can you do anything about them? If you can, what’s stopping you? Maybe you have done everything you can to influence positive change, but in the end you aren’t the decision maker, and the decision has been to keep things status quo. Bummer. Or maybe the direction of the company just isn't a direction you want to go.
What are you going to do?
HR Pros, I implore you. Do not get sucked in a negative space. The role of HR is critical in a company. Your job is to demonstrate appropriate behavior, positive interactions and attitudes, and be supportive - whether through change or staticity. It’s super easy to vent. But BEWARE. Your attitude, disengagement, frustration and anger are felt by those around you. They’re little seeds that you’re planting. Your garden will grow accordingly. The seeds you plant affect others’ ability to work and engage in their respective roles. Negativity breeds negativity. Toxicity breed toxicity. Don’t be a part of that cycle.
I’ve seen people so angry and frustrated with their manager or company that they throw gigantic fits. They tell people off. They purposefully try to sabotage the work of others, or possibly destroy documents or their own work product because they don’t want the company to have it, or the manager to take credit for it. I don’t understand this whatsoever.
Several years ago, I worked for an organization that was wrought with toxicity. People were horrible to each other. Leadership was secretive, immoral and unethical. Rumor-milling, bitching and drama were the norm. I found myself increasingly frustrated with the lack of accountability and the lack of alignment between the values posted on our walls and accepted behavior and performance. Why was this even allowed? One of the senior leaders said it best: “We all have choices.”
Yes, we do.
If you choose to stay in your current role with your current company, with all of the things that you disagree with, stop complaining. Stop the drama. Stop fault finding. Stop blaming others. Look at yourself. Be disciplined enough to be self-aware, self-reflective, and accountable. Your fits of rage and the words you spew ultimately reflect more poorly on you. Sure, you could get in the last word and hurt others in your revenge. What does this accomplish? I’ll tell you: Nothing. Nothing except a sad tale that others tell. (Remember the "Who's coming with me?" scene from Jerry Maguire? Yeah…. Don’t do that.)
If you choose to stay, accept what it is, and continue to put in your best effort in influencing the positive change you believe is right for the employees and the business. And do so with joy in your heart. You are not a victim of your work circumstances. You can, in fact, choose to engage with a positive attitude and encourage others to do the same.
And if you choose to leave your current position – for whatever reason – leave well. Don’t burn bridges. (After all, it’s a small world. Word gets around if you’re a pill.) Don’t make it your duty to write a long dissertation about everything that’s wrong with the company, the boss, your supervisor, your team, other employees, etc. The words you choose are a reflection of YOU and your character. Take what you have learned, and use it to help refine who you are as an HR professional and as a person.
People, there is enough negativity in the world right now. We each have the ability to choose the thoughts we indulge, our behaviors and our response to others and our circumstances. No one can make you do anything. It is your choice. If you are indulging negative thoughts, which lead to negative behaviors, stop it. Please. Stop.
Your choices are a reflection of your character.
Think about that.
Your choices are a reflection of your character.
Who are you? How do you want others to perceive you? How do you want others to feel after interacting with you? What legacy are you leaving? What do you want to be remembered by?
Whatever your answers are to those questions, leave in a manner that agrees with them.
Recently, the question was posed on Twitter... "Why do you work in HR?"
This is an important question for everyone to ponder. (Side note: Everyone should consider this question, not just those of us in HR. I think everyone should know why they work in a specific field.) Many of us landed in HR as a freak accident. Some chose it specifically. Some slowly dipped their toes in the water somewhere along the way, perhaps they were responsible for some basic ancillary HR duties as part of another role, and eventually made their way out of the kiddie pool. Whatever the reason you're here, the question isn't necessarily why do you work in HR, but why do you continue to work in HR?
HR isn't for everyone. Working with people, their choices and behavior can be extremely exhausting. Let's face it. We've probably all had conversations with grown adults that sound eerily similar to the conversations we've had with our four-year-olds. "There are consequences for your actions... We all have choices to make... Stop hitting and biting."
At some point in our careers, many of us come to the moment of truth. That being the moment when we become so dismayed, disappointed, exhausted, and, frankly, hurt by our organizations (leaders, co-workers, peers) that we just don't know if we want (or even can) continue. I came to this place a few years back. The environment I worked in at the time was incredibly toxic. Unethical and immoral behavior, it seemed, was rewarded. The culture was so toxic that everyone had this "every man for himself" mentality purely for survival. Complete lack of transparency, accountability and honesty. Employees were mean-spirited, spread malicious gossip solely intended to harm reputations and destroy credibility. The CEO would make comments like "100 people are standing in line for your job. If you don't like it, leave." Working in an environment like this takes its toll. (I'll spare the sordid details... but many of you, I'm sure, can relate.)
Every year I could, I would attend the SHRM Annual Conference. This particular year, I decided that if I didn't come away from the conference feeling reinvigorated for my field, I would change careers. I decided to dig in, be present, make connections, and really think about the field I had chosen for my profession.
What happened was actually quite amazing. Not only did I come away feeling energized and refueled. I also came to the realization that while we may have every good intention to be an advocate for employees, develop and implement amazing onboarding, training and development programs, and help build a culture of trust that allows employees to bring their whole selves to work every day and be highly engaged in the mission, vision and values of the business, the truth is that not all organizations are healthy enough to allow you to operate that way. This particularly year, I realized that the employees of my org were basically taught that "to eat our own" is the MO. THAT was the culture. So... I made a plan and eventually resigned. And it was one of the best decisions I have ever made for my career (and my sanity). I realized that HR wasn't the problem. Even the employees weren't really the problem. The organization and it's leaders who allowed that type of culture to exist were the problem.
Why am I in HR? I’m in HR because it’s the one place in business that I believe we can have the greatest positive impact on people’s lives. We spend the majority of our time at work. We have the opportunity to make the work experience not just good, but GRAND!
Do not let others steal your joy. In other words, don't let other people, situations, or organizations rob you of the love you have for your chosen field. I urge you to consider that maybe the environment you're in is the main culprit, and not the field of HR. I'm not suggesting pointing fingers or blaming others for your choices. (I mean, really, maybe you're part of the problem.... Self-reflection is a really good habit to get into.) What I'm saying is this: Take ownership over your choices. You know when you're in a toxic environment. Humans have this really cool thing called gut instinct that, if we listen, can tell us a lot. If you are simply unable to rise above all the crap that is around you, don't give the org any more power over you! If you know you're in the wrong environment (like a toxic, abusive relationship), then start taking the necessary steps today to find another position and resign. Think back to the reasons why you got into HR in the first place. Write them down. Ponder them.
If, after all of that, you do decide to leave HR, that's ok. Again, maybe it is not an ideal field for you. But if you decide that HR is where you should be, then make a plan to leave your organization. And when you do, choose to leave well. (We'll talk about that in a future post.)
HR is an incredibly rewarding field. Everything we do impacts people. Don't let toxic environments determine your future.