This is part 4 of a 7-part series on “Reclaiming Your Voice At Work” that explores the different reasons our voice and impact weakens over time and strategies to reclaim it.
Every organization, be it corporate, non-profit, school, church or club has its own distinct cultural attributes. Some of them are made very clear through vision, values and even employee handbooks. Many remain unseen and unspecified, causing confusion and disenchantment with both the organization and your work. Reclaim your voice and strength on the job by learning how to navigate complex cultures and the changing world of work. No big surprise – the key is COMMUNICATION!
Things couldn't be more foggy
I’ve coached leaders and worked with organizations from corporate America, non-profits, churches and schools. No matter where I go, fog exists. Business needs change often and organizations need to adjust, often very quickly. Communication channels aren’t as effective as they could be, as most leaders are wearing multiple hats. Staff changes disrupt the waters and may leave people feeling nervous and overwhelmed. The unknown seeps up from the ground and clouds our view and distorts the reality around us. When humans are involved – fog exists.
You may be thinking about how much you don’t like your career choice or how convoluted your organization is. I promise you this – the grass is not greener on the other side. It’s just a different color…and there is always dog poop in the yard.
It’s not for lack of effort. Employers work very hard and spend lots of money to get their internal and external messaging right. They truly do want to help employees be comfortable. There’s just one issue…there are hundreds of different personality types, traits and abilities within an organization. That means they interpret, and influence them, differently. A message could be written in stone and the five people standing around it could walk away with different key takeaways.
Things can go south quickly when there is a lack of clarity. Tension between departments, turn-over and a lack of trust can escalate quickly. So, how do we work with the mixed messages?
Because there are so many different personalities and skill sets, the messages from different teams and leaders may often contradict each other. My recommendation is to try using this question-and-ask strategy for one month and see if you feel differently about the culture and communication.
“What do you need differently from me?”
“Here’s what I need differently from you…”
By first asking what they need differently from you, you are seeking clarity for yourself but also putting them in the driver’s seat. Don’t worry, you aren’t giving up control. You’re merely respecting their role, no matter what level they are, and showing respect for their opinion. You will need to ask this question of people multiple times before they feel comfortable giving you an honest answer. You may not always agree with their feedback or ask, but you can work to change their perception of you by showing effort.
Be ready to make an ask as a follow-up. Not to be tit for tat, but to show that you care about the outcome and you’re willing to put in the work.
Have a boss you need more time with but they’re constantly running meeting to meeting? Instead of asking for more time, consider what you’d do with that time and ask for that. More feedback on your work? Direction on your next career choice? Advice about a conflict with a co-worker? Whatever it is, make the ask and let them determine how they can best provide you the support you are requesting.
Navigate the maze
It’s not easy being a human. It gets a bit more complicated when we’re asked to work with others and accomplish goals. I am confident that if you reframe your perspective a bit and work to reclaim your voice, you’ll be able to positively influence not only your career, but your organization’s culture! Keep me updated on your journey.
Peace and Progress On Your Journey,
P.S. This is the 4th in a 7-week series, “Reclaiming Your Voice At Work.” This week focuses on navigating your organization’s’ culture. Week 5 will discuss how a lack of confidence can affect the strength of your voice at work.