Merge's Blog

How to approach a difficult working environment

I often hear from leaders who are frustrated by working within what they characterize as a difficult working environment. They feel like they are not given the resources they need, the authority they require, or the support from senior management they want in order to make significant progress towards achieving company, departmental and personal goals. It is in conversations such as these that I am reminded of the words that are carved in stone on the Canongate Wall in the Scottish Parliament buildings in Edinburgh.

Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.

The quote is attributed to Alasdair Gray, who further admits that he actually paraphrased it from Canadian Dennis Lee’s poem titled “Civil Elegies.”

Just because you work in an environment that is frustrating doesn’t mean that you have to be frustrated. In your mind, create your ideal workplace. Identify exactly what it is that you’d like to achieve in your current role. Whether it’s in terms of personal leadership development, or the coaching and support that you’ll give to your staff, declare your goals and values, even if it’s on a sheet of paper just for your eyes only. Keep showing up for work the way you always do, present and committed, but follow the ideals of your manifesto.

Basically what I’m suggesting you do is create your own “micro-climate” within your company. Yes, it’s harder if you don’t have external support, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t seek to achieve what matters to you within your own circle of influence. And something astonishing happens once you seek to create your ideal micro-climate – you’ll find other like-minded people who want to be part of the movement. A few of you, and you’ll already be working in the early days of a better working environment!

So what do you think? Realistic and possible, or far-fetched and whimsical? Your perspectives welcomed.

P.S. Last August I wrote a similar blog post titled Recovering from Workplace Setbacks which might offer you an additional perspective.

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