Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Is Your Job Flushing Your Self-Esteem Down the Toilet?
Most bosses have read at least a few articles or even some books that offer advice along the lines of "Employee Recognition in Five Seconds a Day" or "Meaningless Pats on the Back -- How It Can Work For You."
Let's face it: In today's fast-paced, high-stress working world, many bosses may start out with good intentions on recognizing and rewarding employees for good performance, but the truth is that it sort of slips away after a time. The weekly meetings to recognize employee contributions get put off until it's once a month...then once every few months...then, nothing.
Or, the recognition program becomes a joke: "Jane is employee of the month because she answered the phone! She now gets the top parking spot for a month!"
It's no wonder many workers go home at the end of the day completely demoralized. They see an endless road of 10-12 hour days, with little appreciation of what they do. They're just another body filling a spot at a company that gives them a paycheck, but does little for their self-esteem.
Believe me, I'm not belittling that employers offer a paycheck, especially in this tough economy. But I do think that more and more, workers are losing sight of what makes them feel good about themselves. Namely, a job well done.
Sure, we can give ourselves little pats on the back, but if the boss or someone else doesn't really recognize our contribution, what does that mean for us in the long run? I'm afraid it means a workforce that is always feeling like they can't keep up, as if they are chasing an endless list of tasks they can never hope to complete. They are never given a chance to stop and be recognized that what they do matters, that what they contribute should make them feel good about themselves.
So, what's the answer when your self-esteem takes a beating because of your job? The answer may be to find ways to recognize and reward yourself.
* Do something every day that you enjoy. Work in your garden, tinker in your workshop or create a spectacular meal. The point is to create something that makes you feel good about yourself. Even if you can only devote 15 or 30 minutes a day, it's important to do something that bolsters positive feelings about yourself.
* Give yourself a gold star. It's a simple thing, but write down something every day that you feel good about at work. Maybe you helped a co-worker with a problem or dealt with a difficult customer that went away happy. Those are things to be proud of -- by the end of the week you'll be able to look back at your list and see what you accomplished.
* Have happy reminders around you. Most workers have photos of their kids or loved ones nearby, which are great reminders they have a lot to be proud of in their lives. But you can also have other tangible proof: a race medal; a note from the boss praising your efforts; an industry article mentioning your contributions. Change these items if you begin to not "see" them anymore. It's important they really make you think about the good things you've done.
* Stop the cycle of negative thoughts. If you're hanging around at work with other people who complain and whine a lot, they'll start to drag you down with them. Have lunch or coffee with those who seem to be upbeat, no matter what else is going on. If you can't find anyone, spend your lunch hour or coffee break reading upbeat or funny articles or books. Tell yourself that when you make a mistake, it's because there is a lesson to be learned.
What else can someone do to boost their self-esteem?