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Dear Work Therapist: How to preserve yourself in an environment that doesn't fit

As Hana shared recently - it's not an easy job being an introvert at work. But that's not the only thing disrupting your work-life balance or your daily routine. It's even more complex if your core values are not aligned with the values of your company and team. 

 

I'm used to always focus on the individuals, their strong and weak sides, and adapt to working with them most productively and comfortably. 

To me, having a team is having a second family. And like every family, you should support each other and strive for improving both your personal and team's performance. 

 

Recently I faced a scenario where people were driven by the desire of climbing this sacred corporate ladder. Their actions and motivations were so different from my core understanding of teamwork and what a healthy team should look like.

 

In addition to my introvertness (introducing a new word here :)) it has become quite an issue. So I'm wondering - is it possible to preserve yourself in such an environment, without sacrificing much of your energy, motivation, and even desire to work?

 

PS: I solved my case by quitting my company. Which is making me even more curious about what is the right approach. 

 

8 comments

Hi @Teodora _Old Street Solutions_ 

Unfortunately I found myself in a similar situation, the people on my team were focused on moving up in the company and did not contribute a team culture, it is frustrating because you feel that you do not fit in there, I also gave up continuing in that company and now I am happy , in a company in which colleagues and bosses put people and their well-being above everything else, it is very gratifying to work with people who have such a healthy team culture, now I would not see myself in a company like the previous one since mine is a great place to work !!

Thank you for sharing @Paloma Fondon Araujo! It's unfortunate when you encounter such issues, but I'm glad you found the place where you belong. 

Once you find the right balance and mindset, it's hard to adapt to anything else, especially if you need to "fake it" or force yourself to stay calm when you are not :)

Like Paloma Fondon Araujo likes this

Hi @Teodora _Old Street Solutions_ ,

First of all, I'm so sorry to hear about the environment you just left. But, I am also so happy that you took the brave approach and were able to leave.

Like families, our workplace teams impact us. They provide support for us, help us grow, and develop amazing things. At the same time, when information is hoarded, decisions are not inclusive, or when there are more closed-door meetings than free-flowing information, teams can also take away our energy. For people like yourself who consider their work teams an extension of their families, that can be especially difficult.

I might suggest you prioritize looking for engaging, supportive workplace environments that align with your values. Many suggest prioritizing great managers, responsibilities that challenge you, and compensation that meets your personal needs. But finding the right culture to be a part of is essential to a healthy emotional and mental state.

I'll also add that entering into a culture that you appreciate, doesn't guarantee that it will stay that way. I'd suggest encouraging leadership or programs that solicit feedback or deploy surveys so that teams can input into how they see the work culture. Additionally, reinforcing the behavior you want to see is important.

  • Does your next corporate environment offer some kind of way to recognize other staff? 
  • Is there a way to celebrate, not just project outcomes, but good culture behavior?
  • Are there groups or systems in place that focus on team development?

And despite all these efforts, I'm sure there will still be instances of behavior that doesn't align with your core values. But if you believe in the power of growth, then documenting changes requested by teammates, positively reinforcing good behavior, and having dedicated team members focus on culture changes can help minimize seeing less aligned repeat behaviors.

Again, what you've done is not easy, but I believe you're doing what's best for you. And with your departure, that's also a signal that your previous company needs to improve. 

Good luck!

Thank you for the detailed response and insights @Christine P_ Dela Rosa! I'm confident even one man is capable of moving mountains, so I'll follow your advice and look forward to a better adventure. 

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this
Hana Kučerová Community Leader Aug 03, 2021

Hi @Teodora _Old Street Solutions_ ,

if I were you, I would also quit the company. My instincts have never failed me and if I feel something is not right, I don't do it (BUT it took me a lot of time to learn this, I was always trying to fix the situation at any cost, even though it wasn't good for me...)

Something ends, but something new also starts... Good luck to you, surely you'll be great!

Thank you @Hana Kučerová! I know what you mean by fixing the situations at any cost, and it's such a relief when you finally reach the point of trusting your gut feeling :) It never lets you down.

Good luck with all your initiatives too! 

Like Hana Kučerová likes this
Hana Kučerová Community Leader Aug 03, 2021

Thank you!

I have no answer to your question but I really like how you describe your team as a "second family". We're spending so much time together so supporting each other should be one of the core conditions in the work environment.

Alex Koxaras Community Leader Aug 05, 2021

Hi @Teodora _Old Street Solutions_ ,

So I'm wondering - is it possible to preserve yourself in such an environment, without sacrificing much of your energy, motivation, and even desire to work?

It depends on what kind of person are you and how good you are on blocking out stuff like this. I believe that your tolerance was not that much high, which is absolutely understandable and acceptable. I would be in the same situation as well and I would also consume huge tons of my energy. In a matter of fact, I've been in that situation in my previous job, which I happened to love.

However, some things happened, and every day, little by little, my lust of staying in the some company with the same people simply vanished. I was consuming all my energy both while working, and when I wasn't working for them toxic people.

I quit my job as well and found a new one with better people.

I feel you and I sympathize you! There is no right or wrong. Just do as you feel.

 

Be well,
Alex

Thanks for sharing @Alex Koxaras! It's true how we actually start losing taste to a job we love when we are battling for it every day. 

I'm glad to hear you found a better place! The world is full of opportunities and we should enjoy them :) 

Like Alex Koxaras likes this
Daniel Eads Atlassian Team Aug 07, 2021

@Teodora _Old Street Solutions_ , sorry to hear about your hard experience.

I was recently in a conversation where someone observed that very large companies tend to have the "corporate ladder" mindset, where people compete rather than cooperate. The observation was that helping others could cause them to get promoted, instead of you, so people fend for themselves in that type of environment.

I'm curious about your impression of that thought. Does company size have an impact on the tendency to push ladder-climbers?

That's a very interesting point, @Daniel Eads

Looking from one side, maybe you need a bigger company to have that corp ladder more visible and more desirable. If you are a 10-30 person company, you probably have properly distributed roles, and the "start-up" vibe, where everyone is working closely, being supportive, and equally important.

But looked from another perspective, I think it's all about mindset. If the company leaders are focused only on growth and scale while neglecting the overall team health, people will start falling into a trap. If the only way to feel appreciated is by climbing the ladder, you have no other choice than to embrace the wrong approach (or make the harder decision and change the environment). 

I'm always trying to lead by example and sometimes I'm very hard on people who don't. Good teams need good leaders and good examples, no matter 5, 500, or 5000. :)

Like Daniel Eads likes this
nina_schmidt Community Leader Aug 12, 2021

@Teodora _Old Street Solutions_ thanks for sharing - I think you took the right decision to let your heart and wellbeing decide. Focus on what feels good for you. 

There will always be some people with huge ellbows and corporate ladder climbers...

I am sure you find what you need to feel good! Sounds like it would be awesome to have you as teammate / boss. :-) 

Thank you @nina_schmidt!  💙

I'm grateful for the Dream Team I already have here in the Atlassian Community, and looking forward to new adventures :)

Like nina_schmidt likes this
Fadoua Community Leader Sep 26, 2021

Honestly @Teodora _Old Street Solutions_  I would have done the same. QUIT!!!!

I hate so much going through job search(fixing the resume, interviews, negotiations,.....) but if I feel the team culture shifted totally then it is time to move on.

Sorry I couldn't provide a better way to handle it but that's how I will handle the situation.

Best,

Fadoua

Thanks for sharing, @Fadoua!

The better way doesn't always look like the "happiest" one. Few months later, I still feel good about my decision. :)

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