I bumped into someone from my old team the other day. With her was my replacement who had begun the role a month ago.
I am not rude and didn’t want to blank her, so I began talking to her so that she wasn’t just sat back observing our conversation. I introduced myself and asked how she was finding the job. Her response surprised me.
“Total crap!” she exclaimed.
As I knew the nature of the job, I did expect someone to think that, but not necessarily out loud, especially to a total stranger.
Usually there is a process with new starters where they start off optimistic and eager for the fresh opportunity, with time being the factor for negativity to set in as the opportunity becomes routine and appreciation is lost for what you have.
Usually it takes an exceptionally negative person to despise their job in the first month, either that or they made a major mistake and did not do enough inquiring into the true nature of the job.
I had been there done that and been successful in that same role, so felt my opinion had some weight. I said:
- Take the job as an opportunity to learn about how the structure of the organisation works and how a PMO (Programme Management Office) works.
- Value the benefits of the role – in it you get to network with a wide range of people, make a good first impression.
- Always aim to deliver the best work possible for everyone you interact with, even if it is just sending a quick response to an e-mail.
- Be willing to take the crap jobs. And when you do them, don’t just do them well, do it better than they imagined, smile and ask “Have you got anymore”.
- Find as many opportunities as possible.
- Research where you want to be promoted to and work towards meeting the requirements of that role.
I hope that she took my advice, because the problem is the moment you start despising a job everyone notices, no matter how well you think you hide it – the contempt is reflected in your attitude and the quality of your work.
It is your mind that decides if your situation is negative or positive.
“If you view everything through the lens of fear, then you tend to stay in retreat mode. You can just as easily see a crises or problem as a challenge, an opportunity to prove your mettle, the chance to strengthen and toughen yourself, or a call to collective action. By seeing it as a challenge, you will have converted this negative into a positive purely by a mental process that will result in positive action as well. ”
Robert Greene, The 50th Law
The problem with negative people
I hate working with overally negative people. In my experience they never see the positive in anything and have a habit of making everything surrounding them toxic.
What you end up with is a team of negative people.
How I handled negative people as a manager
Working for Oxfam as a volunteer you had to be a positive person to do the role. You were not being paid, so the only way you could retain staff was keeping them positive and motivated. If they weren’t that, they had no reason to work there.
As a manager at Oxfam I had to handle the negative people. They were normally “reluctant volunteers” people who only worked at the store for other reasons:
- Their parents made them do it
- The Job Centre made them do it
- They have to do a number of hours to achieve the Duke of Edinburgh Award
Sometimes they were just negative. I had no idea why they kept turning up.
My predicament was that I couldn’t just get rid of these people. We needed volunteers but I didn’t want them infecting anyone else with their negativity and I certainly didn’t want their miserable face on the till dealing with customers.
I stuck the negative ones in the back, where they wouldn’t be seen – they could be as negative and unenthusiastic as they wanted ironing the clothes and putting them on hangers.
The positive and the cheerful worked the floor, and got rewarded as they got a wide range of tasks and enjoyed the job more.
Some may criticise my management style here and yes it wasn’t the perfect solution. I could have done more to improve their moral or been an ambassador for Oxfam and told them what a great cause it was. But some people are just negative.
In work you will get a lot of crap jobs and as Scott Adams in his Dilbert strip said:
“That’s why they have to pay you”
In life you make a lot of decisions, some of them you ended up worse off – that is the risk you take.
Sometimes you have to just think of what you are grateful. For me I always think:
- Last year I was just a dogs body in a PMO environment excepted to keep the printer topped up.
- Two years ago I worked for a boss who despised me and I never understood why.
- Three years ago I didn’t have a job .
There is always someone worse off and that is how you be positive – you have to be grateful for what you have now, it may be what you are today, but it is not your future.