To Work Better, Take Your Nose Off The Grindstone
A positive attitude can do wonders for any work environment. Happy, positive people are a pleasure to work with, particularly those who remain pleasant and even-tempered under challenging or difficult circumstances.
How can you help more of your employees fit this mold? For starters, it helps to understand that those who maintain a consistently upbeat disposition often play as hard as they work. Productive, happy employees find ways to make work fun, and their energy, enthusiasm, and humor have a major ripple effect.
So it's important that everyone, boss and employees alike, find ways to inject a sense of play into work. Seek out the fun and positive aspects, and try not to feel responsible for solving problems all of the time. Here are 5 ways how:
In addition to your regular work goals, set some fun goals for yourself. Go out to lunch once or twice a week and invite new people each time. Try to get a smile from the guy in the department who’s always a little grumpy. Find a way to acknowledge or compliment three people a day, regardless of how your own day is going. If you start feeling frustrated, challenge yourself to find ways to refocus your frustration in a constructive way. It may not solve the issue at hand, but it will help you feel better, and that will improve your attitude.
Each week or each quarter, set a goal to learn something new. For example, you could learn how to use a new app, or pick up some workflow or process shortcuts from experts in your department. If possible, take a class that has nothing to do with your job. Undertake an activity that helps you expand your horizons. One quality of outstanding management is a broad view of the bigger picture; by learning new skills you will acquire new perspective that can help you think outside the box more easily.
Strive to make 80 percent of your job consist of tasks you enjoy working on, and accept that 20 percent may include assignments you don’t enjoy as much, or find more difficult. Commit time to getting done the less-attractive tasks first. Work at them consistently, a little at a time, until they are completed. If they can be delegated, invest the time to make that happen. Avoid procrastinating. Save the assignments you enjoy and have a knack for and address them last, since you will naturally find them easier to finish.
Make time to get out of your routine and meet new people. Introduce yourself to people in your organization you normally don’t interact with in your day-to-day routine. This expands your scope, and because these contacts often do not report directly to you, you can cultivate professional relationships outside of your department. Be respectful of other people’s time and boundaries, but learn more about how your organization works in its entirety.
People often say "the best time to get a new job is when you already have a job." Make time to look at career opportunities both inside and outside of your organization that truly interest you, even if you don’t appear to have the required skills or experience. Make time to dream and imagine possibilities without constraints. This process of unbounded exploration can, at the very least, keep you informed of new positions. More important, it also permits you to dream and to contemplate your future without concern for what you think you should be doing. One outcome of this type of thinking: You might actually realize your current job is the one you really want.
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While Peter Economy has spent the better part of two decades of his life slugging it out mano a mano in the management trenches, he is also the best-selling author of Managing for Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 75 other books, with total sales in excess of two million copies. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years, where he has worked on projects with the likes of Jim Collins, Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and many other top management and leadership thinkers. Sign up here to always stay up to date with Peter's latest Inc.com columns, and visit him anytime at petereconomy.com.