Home Self Governance Work & Family are Separate….Aren’t They?

Work & Family are Separate….Aren’t They?

by Brian Ray

So, you think that when you reach your place of business on a given day that you are safe from the myriad of issues lurking in your peers’ personal lives?  Guess again.

One of the most problematic (yet also fascinating) things that can happen in the business/office environment is how much that environment can mimic the home life of the staff.  This of course means that all the dramas, strife, and rivalries between family members that exist in people’s home lives (past & present) can permeate the business space as well.

Here are some of the situations that can occur in the workplace:

1.  Can I have a Gold Star?

If a person takes a moment to look around their workplace objectively, they will see many individuals engaged in the practice of seeking the approval of Management for virtually every activity.

This is akin to those children who were constantly engaged in the very same practice by seeking the approval of the various authority figures in their younger days.  These included parents, teachers, coaches, etc.

These individuals never outgrew that practice and simply carried it over into their professional lives as adults.

The main problem here is that this behavior quickly becomes tiresome for all those affected by the constant nagging of the person seeking validation.  They then become viewed as a person who lacks both confidence and the ability to make significant decisions without someone constantly holding their hand.  Not a good impression to leave with people.

2.  Sibling Rivalry – All’s Fair in Love & War

Once again, a professional who takes the time to objectively view their work environment will find situations akin to sibling rivalry exhibited within many families where the children are constantly jockeying for position and favor.

This is particularly true in the cases of a new individual joining a team versus the members who have been there for an extended period.  This is similar to when parents introduce their older children to the new baby they just brought home from the hospital.

Some of those individuals may actually begin to fear a loss of status within the family structure, and can do all kinds of things to quietly sabotage the newcomer due to this fear.

3.  Taking Sides Against the Family

If the company in question is a family business as well, then the situation is magnified exponentially.

How? Well, invariably those who work at family owned companies (but are not part of the actual family who owns and/or runs it) will eventually find themselves caught in the crossfire of family squabbles that spill over into the office space.

In some cases they may even find themselves playing referee between the various family factions, trying to gain favor from both sides.  This can make the affected person caught in the middle feeling like a character in an epic movie or fantasy television series (such as Game of Thrones or the Godfather).

Try your best to stay out of the fray, and when it becomes too much, seek employment elsewhere.

The Cost

As mentioned previously, a person who constantly seeks approval is seen as weak, lacking confidence, and fearful of making decisions.

Once this label has been applied to you, it is VERY difficult to free yourself from it.  As it does for so many things, word travels fast, particularly when the news is negative.  So you can expect that word of your issues will quickly spread through the ranks, and this can hinder promotions, rewards, and other opportunities that might otherwise have come your way.

Overcoming the need for Approval

Let’s face it, there ARE times you will need your Manager’s and/or Leader’s approval to proceed with a given task, project, etc.  That is not in question.  Where the issue comes in is when it becomes repetitive and predictable, but yet you fail to see that you’ve become dependent upon it.

To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, take a step back to review your own thought processes.  Are you constantly contacting Management and peers for approval beyond what the norm calls for on a given task or project?

If yes, you must make a conscious choice to stop that behavior.  Take steps to limit the number of times you contact individuals for approval.  Do this by asking yourself – “Is their approval really necessary?”

In many cases, you will find that approval is not required, and by doing this consistently you will eventually break the cycle and be better off for it.

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