Author Topic: Combating Workplace Apathy  (Read 3573 times)

tlars699

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Combating Workplace Apathy
« on: August 06, 2015, 08:24:58 AM »
So, I have a dilemma.
My workplace used to be boring, full of drudgery, etc.
Then management changed hands, and all of our leaders were all shiny with sayings like "Embrace Change! Give us New Ideas on How we can Improve things! Positive Attitude! Leadership!Mentoring! S.M.A.R.T. Goals!" Etc. etc.
So, I did. I do. I actually enjoy work a ton more now. I do my duties, and try to do things that help, and work with others...
and get shot down a lot. 

Basically, while the guy who was in essence mentoring me (my boss) seems like he would like to, he also just encouraged me to apply for a position in our warehouse. Granted, he phrased it as I would be able to earn more (so DUH! I applied for it) but a part of me feels like this was also to get me out of the office sphere.
:(

I don't know what I'm doing wrong, aside from promoting change with a positive attitude.
Sure, I'm persistent, but I have to be when every mention of an idea that would improve efficiency gets immediately shot at from the person who might be able to help it most.
I don't nag- I will let days pass between email exchanges, and casually bring it up in person OCCASIONALLY (<1 x per week) just to keep the idea in circulation.
Basically, everyone wants things to change, but doesn't want the extra work to make change happen.

I feel like a collie that's chewed up one too many pairs of shoes from not having better things to do, or a 4 year old in timeout from asking too many questions.

Do I just keep attempting to better things? Or do I keep my head down, and become a drone?

squeakywheel

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Re: Combating Workplace Apathy
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2015, 08:52:29 AM »
My two cents based on my (similar) experience:

People with lots of energy and new ideas are not actually welcome in the average office workplace, no matter what the company says to the contrary. So I would really advise you to find something outside of work that you can channel all that positive energy into. No need to "become a drone", just tone it down a bit and save your enthusiasm for your side gig where it will be appreciated and do some good!

Psychstache

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Re: Combating Workplace Apathy
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2015, 09:04:06 AM »
My two cents based on my (similar) experience:

People with lots of energy and new ideas are not actually welcome in the average office workplace, no matter what the company says to the contrary. So I would really advise you to find something outside of work that you can channel all that positive energy into. No need to "become a drone", just tone it down a bit and save your enthusiasm for your side gig where it will be appreciated and do some good!

+1

Relevant section from How I Met Your Mother:

(Group is watching Barney's example of an reel video he made to apply for his job)

Lily: Barney, I don't get it. You don't do a damn thing in any of these clips.

Barney: Exactly. Because that's who corporate American wants: people who seem like bold risk takers, but never actually do anything.

AZDude

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Re: Combating Workplace Apathy
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2015, 09:43:16 AM »
Yep, the above posters are correct. Change means lots of work for management, so they will never do anything major. Just concentrate on making your own job easier and helping your customer(internal or external) however you can.

Work to live, not live to work. Enjoy life by finding stuff outside of work. Work is just a tool to make money.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Combating Workplace Apathy
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2015, 09:53:52 AM »
Get the raise and consider yourself successful.  Rinse and repeat.  On the ER track, always remember you are a short-timer vs the other poor sods that are destined to have 30-40 year careers.  If you start to fit in too much you will get stuck! 

TheOldestYoungMan

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Re: Combating Workplace Apathy
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2015, 09:54:18 AM »
You, my friend, have stumbled onto this:

http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2009/10/07/the-gervais-principle-or-the-office-according-to-the-office/

There is no happiness to be found from what you will read in that article.  It is a particular way of looking at the world, horrifying in how everything does seem to sort itself exactly along those lines.

It is knowledge that will increase your understanding of what is happening at your job, but that knowledge will not allow you to effect any meaningful change for the better.

What is true now, what will always be true, is that if you aren't happy at your job the best solution is to find another job you can be happy at.
Notice is turned in! 35 days until FIRE!  I am excited and at the same time terrified!

Louisville

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Re: Combating Workplace Apathy
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2015, 10:04:46 AM »
Maybe your ideas suck. If everybody shoots them down every time, it seems a likely scenario.

NumberCruncher

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Re: Combating Workplace Apathy
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2015, 10:23:14 AM »
Take the warehouse job if it sounds interesting and would be a good career move, and just don't worry about your current frustrations with management. Or just find another job (that's what I'm doing after years of frustrations!).

When you say you are shot down - is this like a "soft shut down," where they give lip service like, "Yeah that may work, but there might be other issues down the line," and never bring it up again? Or is it a "hard shut down," where it's more like "No, that's a bad idea. We won't be doing that"?

If it's more of a "soft shut down," it could just be that management doesn't really know how to act? Are you quantifying results/specifying the benefits? Providing a course of action? It could be that they just don't know what to do with your suggestions or have too much on their plates to think about making something happen. You could maybe have more impact if you phrased things better? http://www.amazon.com/Getting-More-Negotiate-Succeed-Work/dp/0307716902 - I really enjoyed this book about negotiating. It's great outside of work, as well, and is actually pretty mustachian - focuses on getting "more," where you define what "more" is.  :)  A big part of it is understanding what is important to other people - and it's often not what's important to you.

You could also go to your boss/mentor and ask straight out - "I really appreciate the emphasis on change and improvement that management has been taking. I've been trying to embrace this, but it feels like I'm falling short with my ideas. Can you help me understand the sorts of initiatives the company wants to encourage, and how my ideas [be specific] have missed the mark?" - this avoids blaming them, while also bringing up the issue. You never want to say something like "you keep shooting my ideas down" or something. No one wants to be criticized. Check out sites like askamanager.com as well - tons of great advice there.

asiljoy

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Re: Combating Workplace Apathy
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2015, 12:26:43 PM »
Is the new job a good career move/money making move? Always think two steps out. What happens after this next job?

If it isn't, feel free to play dumb and keep being persistent. Your idea is stuck in limbo. Eventually someone will kill it or encourage it. Some of the best resume builder projects I have on my resume are projects that other people didn't want to start/do.

vagon

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Re: Combating Workplace Apathy
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2015, 07:11:44 PM »
Here's what you should do:
1. Ignore productivity/innovation initiatives that are outside of your control
2. Find something that you think is interesting that nobody has clear responsibility over.
3. Do it yourself. Don't ask for permission, beg for forgiveness. Fuck relying on other people, do it yourself
4. Even if it falls short (odds are it will), sell the hell out of it
5. Make  sure you give plenty of praise for the "forward thinking" managers above that "facilitated" (read: did nothing at all) your work

Your problem is this: execution.
Ideas are like assholes, everyone has them. To stand apart you need to be the guy that executes.
You can actually apply standard productivity analysis to the above...

Think about the delivery of productivity and innovation as a work flow: a) Idea generation, b) analysis, c) development, d) implementation.
Where is the bottleneck?
I bet you it is either c) or d). So ask yourself:
"Do I want to add to the WIP by putting more ideas on the backlog or actually relieve the bottleneck by delivering something?"

« Last Edit: August 06, 2015, 07:17:30 PM by vagon »

RosieTR

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Re: Combating Workplace Apathy
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2015, 09:39:30 PM »
Thanks for the advice even though I was not the OP. I think I will do some prjects that interetst me, while also beginning to search elsewhere. Not enough ambition or time for Sociopath class as refd in the essay, so will try to be a wily Loser for the few more years til FI.

tlars699

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Re: Combating Workplace Apathy
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2015, 08:13:41 AM »
Maybe your ideas suck. If everybody shoots them down every time, it seems a likely scenario.

Well, maybe not Everyone Everytime. Something finally came to fruition on one of my ideas. And my mentor has been very encouraging.

Also, I know no face punches barred, but really? Assume the worst about the main poster? That's your go to?

Update: I've been looking into some volunteer work for on the side- mostly being inspired by you guys and some TED talks. :D Thanks for not quelling enthusiasm/drive.

tlars699

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Re: Combating Workplace Apathy
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2015, 08:20:10 AM »
Take the warehouse job if it sounds interesting and would be a good career move, and just don't worry about your current frustrations with management. Or just find another job (that's what I'm doing after years of frustrations!).

When you say you are shot down - is this like a "soft shut down," where they give lip service like, "Yeah that may work, but there might be other issues down the line," and never bring it up again? Or is it a "hard shut down," where it's more like "No, that's a bad idea. We won't be doing that"?

If it's more of a "soft shut down," it could just be that management doesn't really know how to act? Are you quantifying results/specifying the benefits? Providing a course of action? It could be that they just don't know what to do with your suggestions or have too much on their plates to think about making something happen. You could maybe have more impact if you phrased things better? http://www.amazon.com/Getting-More-Negotiate-Succeed-Work/dp/0307716902 - I really enjoyed this book about negotiating. It's great outside of work, as well, and is actually pretty mustachian - focuses on getting "more," where you define what "more" is.  :)  A big part of it is understanding what is important to other people - and it's often not what's important to you.

You could also go to your boss/mentor and ask straight out - "I really appreciate the emphasis on change and improvement that management has been taking. I've been trying to embrace this, but it feels like I'm falling short with my ideas. Can you help me understand the sorts of initiatives the company wants to encourage, and how my ideas [be specific] have missed the mark?" - this avoids blaming them, while also bringing up the issue. You never want to say something like "you keep shooting my ideas down" or something. No one wants to be criticized. Check out sites like askamanager.com as well - tons of great advice there.

Management occasionally gives me a soft shut down, but I had done what you outlined^^, and it looks like the Community Board Idea (aka not treating our employees as unreliable criminals) might be getting some traction.

Anyone else who would have an improved worklife that I have to work with, but doesn't want to invest the time and energy as a forward paying sort of thing? Hard shut down. With so much ill logic they can never back their argument. Just ARGH. And no big picture thinkers either in "Middle Management". >X(

tlars699

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Re: Combating Workplace Apathy
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2015, 08:23:19 AM »
Update: I applied for one of the warehouse positions that would be a lateral move on the paygrade, but with
1. the capability of learning more about how the facility works as a whole.
2. Learning more about the main inventory management program we have.
3. First shift, 6-2, and able to wear whatever reasonable thing I like. :)
4. Looking really awesome at being a First Follower.
:) Thanks for the advice and I will read the Gervais article on my next break. :)

Louisville

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Re: Combating Workplace Apathy
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2015, 12:54:27 PM »
Maybe your ideas suck. If everybody shoots them down every time, it seems a likely scenario.

Well, maybe not Everyone Everytime. Something finally came to fruition on one of my ideas. And my mentor has been very encouraging.

Also, I know no face punches barred, but really? Assume the worst about the main poster? That's your go to?

Update: I've been looking into some volunteer work for on the side- mostly being inspired by you guys and some TED talks. :D Thanks for not quelling enthusiasm/drive.
Just trying to cover all the bases for you. Other posters had already mentioned other likely scenarios.