Psychology in the Workplace

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It's a given, there IS psychology in the workplace, right?  Have you ever found yourself using language with the same meaning as, "...this place is driving me nuts..."  or "...they are driving me crazy..."  Over the past few months I did an introspection, on how I've coped in the workplace while managing work relationships, during a three month engagement with an outside consultant group.  My expectation was that they’d deliver a polished/quality project.  My reality was that they provided low grade service quality.

In my experience with managing people on a project, I've learned that psychology is an intricate part of the process.  If not managed properly, it can ultimately have a negative impact on the dynamics of the team.  Members of a team want to feel like they are partners; and that their expertise and skill set are valued.  When I try to summarize what the core issue has been for me during this engagement, it narrows down to the disappointment in people accompanied by diminished work relationships.  Like many, this has always had an impact on my psyche, which influences how I manage my relationships - whether it be business or personal.  

For me, anytime I hear the word "consultant", I interpret some type of expertise associated.  This sets an expectation that this expertise would be integrated into building a strategy to accomplish a goal that is clearly articulated during the vetting process.  I mean the whole point is for them to tell you why they should be chosen...how they’ll solve your problem...how they’ll reduce costs...how they’ll increase profitability...blah, blah, blah.  Although this isn't something that surprises me anymore, I'm pretty tired of consultants falling short on the fundamentals.  It's astounding that the interests surrounded schmoozing for damage control vs. producing a quality product.  Sidebar: I don't do well with bullsh*t!

I might not be so exhausted with this entire experience had I not raised awareness from the beginning during our pilot.  Although, I didn’t see all of the bright red flags in the beginning, my instincts kicked in pretty early on during their proof of concept.  I thought the best way to manage these concerns were by asking specific questions, that were technical and targeted their company's specialty.  I followed up with an evaluation on their deliverable during the pilot.  Toward the end, I concluded that this would not be enough to influence the ‘final’ decision makers.  My efforts were not enough to bring about the change I wanted for our internal project development team (performing the work).  As a result, we were put in a position of tolerating a low level of service quality.

While we faced our disappointment, the impact to the internal project team dynamics, actually raised our level of game play.  Meaning, from my direction, we took ownership of the deliverable and put the consultants to task to raise the quality of work...even when it meant - giving them the answer(s).  I don't find this to be the most optimal solution, but we refused to fail.  We strengthened our awareness of unity and aimed at the common goal.  Of course, one of the major challenges was overcoming the negative impact to the confidence in the ‘final’ decision makers...as well as our Leadership fully comprehending that their internal team had the skill set and ability to do this job from the onset.  Needless to say we lost a level of trust, that would otherwise demonstrate a successful collaboration with our Leaders.

In this recent experience, I found myself not only frustrated with the service delivered by the consultants; but equally frustrated by the lack of understanding (from our Management team).  The value in the importance of fostering the characteristics necessary to develop positive work relationships amongst the team, quite frankly was lacking.  Yes, each individual is responsible for their part of this process, however, “lead by example” is still an expectation many of us want to have in Leadership. 

This entire process ended up creating more work for our team; and on some level I hold myself accountable for being unable to influence the right people to make a different choice.  The toll this has taken on my psyche is taxing.  Having worked through this type of disappointment in the past, I know there’s a lesson in all of this; and that this experience only prepares me for an opportunity later.  But in this moment, I just wish people were comfortable in doing the right thing.

At the end of the day, all of this chips away at a component of my well-being.  During my tenure, although I’ve been recognized and rewarded for my work performance, I don’t equate my livelihood as my purpose.  I’m good at my job - yes; and more often than not, I enjoy it with a few of the perks it brings.  However, the challenge is that the impact of not enjoying the job is greater than the fulfillment I get during the times I do.  The good thing is, I’ve acknowledged this and taking steps to change it.

What are some of your thoughts about 'work' and its impact to your well-being?  Please share your thoughts with a comment below.

Thanks for reading!

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