Most people in my client organizations are victims to their work environment. They complain that the company overlooked them for promotion, their boss doesn’t support their development, the company doesn’t care and the list of complaints goes on and on.

I listen, patiently. Then I ask, “What do you want at work? What is your career goal? What type of team or boss do you work best with? How are you working toward that career goal or the right work environment for you?” What I hear are excuses, blaming managers or companies for why their careers are stalled.

So, I challenge them, “How can you turn it around?”

“I can’t.”

I ask again, “How can you turn it around?”

Does that sound like you?  You CAN turn the situation around. You can take charge of your destiny at work.

Some considerations:

  • Know your desired destination. What do you want? What type of job do you want? How do you want to grow and develop?
  • Look in the mirror. How do you show up at work?  What are the perceptions others have of you?  How are you contributing to those perceptions? Do you whine and complain or do you make a positive contribution?
  • Assess where you are at work against what you want. What is the gap? How much of that gap is the company culture?  The boss? Or you?

Start with yourself.

I learned a lot about perceptions early on in my career. I was a director of human resources in a luxury hotel in Toronto.  I could have easily been busy working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week because there were always employees working every shift to meet the guests’ needs.

One morning, at 7:00 am, I came in to conduct a job interview for a candidate who had a 9-5 job and needed to get the interview done in time to be at their job for 9:00 am.

At 8:30 am, our hotel general manager came into our office looking for me and could not find me because I was in the interview.  He was upset with me because he thought I was late.

I found this frustrating and in conversation with our assistant hotel manager, I learned the concept of managing others’ perceptions of me.

The manager told me he knew I was there and he acknowledged the hours I worked on weekends, early mornings and later into the evenings when needed, because he and I worked on the same floor.  The general manager worked on another side of the building.  How could he know? My naive response was that he should know. That was where I was wrong.

It was up to me to ensure he had the right perception of me. So, I thought about what I wanted that perception to look like and it changed how I presented myself at work from that moment on.

I wanted to be seen as intelligent, committed, competent, professional, inspiring and someone who understood the organization’s vision and made a significant contribution to it.

I made sure I dressed and acted professionally – 100% of the time.  I let my personality and people-focus to always show through everything I did.

I became an influential senior leader on the management team whose perspectives were sought after and I was given opportunities to lead major organizational changes that enhanced the level of employee engagement. It was very rewarding.

I was able to create and be the image I wanted others to have of me.

How do you show up at work?

What perception do you want others to have of you?

What steps are you taking to make that happen?