Finding Your Office Fit

February 26, 2019
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For many people, there is aonce-in-a-lifetime job wherethere is a perfect office “fit.” Going in to work every day is fun because the people are amazing.  You get together after work and socialize.  You know each other’s families. The group remains friends long after they no longer work together.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are those jobs that don’t “fit” anyone. Doors are kept closed and unprofessional discussionsoccur behind them and in the bathroom. Complaints about the people, the kitchen and even the HVAC run rampant.  At some point, most people seem to stumble into one of these jobs as well.

How do you know, before accepting a job, whether you are stepping into a good fit or a bad one?What if you knew it was bad but you still needed the job? Would you be able to stay neutral (best case) or would you get swept up into some kind of drama(worst case)?What if you knew you were joining a happy atmosphere but worried you would be an outsider?

In all scenarios, you need to know how to avoid drama in the new workplace.  Here are a few tips:

  • No matter how nice anyone may be, your colleagues are NOT your friends. Your boss is not your friend.  Everyone is there to do a job, not to make friends.
  • No matter how unpleasant anyone may be, your colleagues are NOT your enemies. Your boss is not your enemy.  Like you, everyone is there to do the best they can.  Treat them with respect and courtesy.
  • If you are invited to participate in any conversation or activity that takes time away from positively influencing the business and its culture, you are welcome to politely decline. If you choose to spend time with people outside of work, that is a different story.  But you need to keep the two separate.
    • If you join a Fantasy Football League, ok, but keep the boundaries between time spent on it and time spent on work separate.
    • Want to go to lunch and dish? Great. But don’t dish about people or activities in the office.  You open yourself up to people dishing about you.  Sooner or later, you’ll regret it.
  • When colleagues annoy you, separate out your personal feelings from your professional ones.Go through this simple checklist:
    • Am I annoyed because this is negatively impacting my ability to do my job?Seek a solution.
    • Am I annoyed because this is negatively impacting the overall business and / or other colleagues? Talk to someone, but make sure you indicate that you are doing so in the best interest of the organization.
    • Am I annoyed personally? Let it go.
  • Be proactive about how to best navigate the personalities at work. What’s your strategy for those who get too personal?  For those who are too negative?  For those who are too competitive?
  • Be aware of yourself and the effect you are having on others. Do a ruthless self-inventory: are there behaviors you may want to think about changing?
  • Recognize that you may need to build space for a break from big personalities into your day.A two to five minute breather to walk down the hall and stretch or close the door and do some deep breathing may be all you need to center yourself and avoid an angry word you would later regret.
  • If you are working collaboratively on a project, set your expectations appropriately for the quirks of team members. If you know they work slowly, build more time for them into the project plan.  If you know they are going to go off on conversational tangents during meeting time, agree on a polite signal in advance to get everyone back on track.

Planning ahead with awareness, good faith and humor can both take the pressure off the decision to join a small team or office as well as improve your experience in it.  Remember, everyone wants to be a good team member but no one wants to be humiliated.  Identify what can be improved for the good of the organization and work to make it happen in a positive way.  This will help make the environment fit you, instead of the other way around.