In every group I have led, I have asked those on the team what is the best part of their jobs, what is good about working for the company, what is going well, what could go better, etc.
Invariably, the most common positive benefit cited?
“It’s the people”!
No matter the industry, the place, the function or the era.
Have I lucked out, finding pockets of really great people to work with?
I don’t think so. What happens is that we, as humans (who are by nature social creatures) will always (to the extent we are able) attempt to satisfy what social needs we can in our working environment. It is, after all, where a lot of us spend the majority of our waking hours.
The dynamics at work, I think, are similar to the dynamics of families. Consider:
· We do not choose whether a boy or girls comes into the world, no less than we choose whether Tom, Jane, Dick or Suzy is hired for that vacant cubicle. We end up accepting what we are given and working with it.
· We do not choose whether our baby is colicky or forever smiling, no less than we choose whether our new co-worker is grouchy, cynical, playful, or charismatic. We play the hand we are dealt the best we can.
· No less so, our babies did not choose us, but adapt to whatever kind of mommies and daddies we turn out to be. Our co-workers adapt to our idiosyncraticities as best they can!
At the end of the day, most us make our families work out ok, and in similar fashion we also make our work-lives work out ok as well. We accept people as they are, push to change where we can, learn to appreciate particular strengths and abilities, fight occasionally, kiss and make up when we do, and get on with life.
So we have situations such as:
We all know that Bob from Accounts Payable is always a little grumpy, and we know he is not going to change, that is part of who he is, so we roll with it, and yet we really do appreciate his ability to find the absolute best office humor cartoons, and because of that he has made us laugh many, many times.
Or Carmen, who loves to gossip about the latest reality TV stars (using names of people we have never even heard of!), always needs a little extra prodding to get her away from the water cooler at the start of work, but wears her heart on her sleeve and is always the first one to offer to help us out in a pinch, and who knows how many countless times that has happened?
And when we retire?
After an appropriate amount of time has lapsed at our coffee and cake reception, Bob or Carmen are going to ask us “what was the best part of working here?”, and we will suddenly become aware of how much we will miss the help in a pinch, and the daily funny cartoon, and more likely than not we are going to say…with meaning…and heart-felt emotion…“it’s the people”.
I would love to hear your thoughts about Workplace Atmosphere or your stories on this topic if you have them.
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