When it comes to change, watching it happen at work can be a little like watching a tree grow; slow to the point of madness. It’s easy to get frustrated. Hopes for a new review model, documented career paths, job exchange opportunities, mentoring programs, funding for training and certifications, renovated cafeteria and menus; these changes can seem like they’re dragging through the mire of bureaucracy and corporate politics. The frustration is especially enhanced when it seems like negative changes happen on a much more accelerated timeline.
As frustration persists, discontentment grows. And that’s when a culture of complaining can emerge. But our faith teaches us not to be complainers but people that enduringly try to push toward what is good. (Philippians 2:14 and Galatians 6:9).
But how? How can a faithful professional be a force for change while maintaining realistic expectations?
Here are a few scenarios based on popular complaints to help:
So employees are weary of the inedible fare offered in the company café. Having to leave the office for food, waste valuable time, and risk losing a great parking space is inconceivable. The long wait times for delivery during the lunch rush is unacceptable. And the expectation to pack and bring lunch every day (especially with the hours we work) is just unrealistic. You can’t control the cafeteria vendor nor renegotiate their contract. Short of paying out of pocket for catering, what can you do? Get creative! Food truck rodeo, anyone? Reach out to the facilities manager to approve space for food trucks to come in the parking lot a few days each week. It costs nothing but a small amount of planning time and a few parking cones. And who knows, maybe a little healthy competition will inspire the café to take it up a notch.
Not having a career path is like being on a path to nowhere. Instead of joining in the choir of complaint and grumbling, pull people together to do something about it. Collaborate with your senior/tenured team members to draft a proposal for career paths on your team. There are plenty of templates and guidelines available for free online. Be sure to secure the support of your manager or leader who will help champion your proposal up the ranks. Sometimes taking care of the “heavy lifting” of documenting a change can significantly accelerate the timing for seeing results.
Empower by Engaging Networks
It’s difficult to know if moving to another side of your organization would be a good change without testing the waters first. A job exchange or mentoring program would be ideal for internal career mobility navigation but many companies don’t offer them or they are not effectively organized. Try initiating a lunch-time Chat and Chew with your teammates. You can take turns inviting people from other teams and departments from your collective networks to share what their team does, how their work connects to your team, and end with Q&A. This will provide a perfect spring board for making contact with a department that you or your teammates have been interested in getting to know better.
A Special Note for Managers
It’s hard managing people. It’s even harder when you know there are important company changes your team needs and deserves but are not manifesting. And it’s even harder when you know you may be risking the loss of top talent because of it. There are a few important things to remember. First, be honest. Be honest about what you have and are doing to champion their request. Be honest about the responses you have (or have not) received. And honestly put in some effort to suggest alternatives that are in your control to deliver. Second, update frequently. If employees take the time and initiative to formally request a change or something new from management, it means they take it seriously. Show you take it seriously by offering proactive and frequent updates on their request. Demonstrating that you’ve listened to the needs of your employees and are taking their requests seriously can go a long way with retaining top talent, even if the outcome of their request is not favorable.
Sync a little deeper…
How can you be an agent of change on your team right now?
How can your faith help keep you focused on solutions instead of complaining?
If you’re a manager, are you demonstrating that you are taking your employees requests as seriously as they are?