Change always begins from within. There are times when government employees face challenging work environments that make it difficult to enjoy their most current career choices. It is during those challenging moments that employees should look within themselves and find ways to make a difference. Complaining about dislikes is easy and comes naturally but being the driving force behind self-improvement is more rewarding and can change your outlook regarding what you do for a living. Here are five ways that you can make a positive difference in your workplace.
- Have a Positive Attitude – It may be difficult to remain positive while surrounded by negativity but it is not impossible. A wise woman once told me, “If others jump off a cliff, are you going to jump with them?” That wise woman is my mother and she would use that simile every time I would complain about my siblings, or about friends doing something wrong. The moral of this example is to focus on your performance instead of what your peers or leaders are doing wrong; you will be happier for it. Always be the best at what you do and show others how much can be accomplished when time is effectively used to excel at your own performance instead of used to complain about the performance of others.
- Display More Initiative – I have heard employees expressing frustration about how limited time is to accomplish the myriad of responsibilities delegated by their leadership. Other times I have unexpectedly walked in on those same individuals complaining about time constraints just to find them surfing the internet, posting on social network sites, or even looking for employment opportunities online during work hours. A little initiative can go a long way. Start working today on what you might not be able to accomplish tomorrow.
- Be Transparent – Honesty is a highly desirable trait that requires no special training. Being transparent can speak volumes about your integrity to your leadership and set the example for your peers to follow. If you engage in any of the easily available but just as easily avoidable office gossip, your credibility, integrity and transparency could be perceived negatively. Be honest, fair, and impartial when sharing your thoughts about current processes. It is easier to listen to recommendations for improvement when they seem unbiased by personal opinions.
- Communicate Effectively – Do not assume that all of your peers will know what you are trying to say or that everyone else thinks like you think. What may seem to be common sense to you may not come as naturally to others. Please remember that your life experiences are what taught you what you know today and not everyone has gone through the same experiences. Always communicate your intentions clearly and always listen before you speak. Listening is imperative in order to learn about how to communicate more effectively with others.
- Be Considerate of Others – Every person we encounter is an individual with different beliefs, upbringing, learning ability, and thought processes. I recently heard a female coworker state that the problem with the process we were discussing was that there were too many males involved in it. Sexism in the workplace is not new and saying, “do not take this personally but…” prior to sharing your opinion does not make it appropriate nor acceptable. Neither gender, nor sexual orientation have any relevance with individual performance. There are many times when your priorities will not be shared by everyone. Every individual has different priorities that are dependent on their leadership or current position description. Do not be quick to pass judgement on others based on your standards since not many people will be able to meet your expectations.
You can always make a difference when you focus on your own strengths and weaknesses. Further developing your strengths and improving on your weaknesses will ensure that you are a well-rounded employee, that you excel at your part of the organization’s mission, and that you are the very best at what you do.
Remember that if your job no longer challenges you to grow as an individual or that you no longer find joy in what you do, perhaps it is time to broaden your horizons and look for new challenges elsewhere. Never settle for mediocrity or lower your performance standards for anyone because at the end of the day, it is your very own reflection that will stare at you the harshest.
Alberto Principe is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.