Take ownership of your work – Troubleshooting, Part 2 ·
This is the second part of the article, Take ownership of your work, and start to lead: Troubleshooting. The First part is here.
In theory, taking ownership of your work and starting to lead doesn’t sound too hard to do, right? Why then isn’t everyone working this way and reaping the rewards in salary raises and promotion offers while enjoying the feeling of achievement and true engagement in their work? There are many reasons why it may feel difficult to take full ownership of your work. Common reasons are, for example, misinformation, or completely missing information, bad practices and habits, complacency, lack of interest, value conflicts, lack of direction and leadership, lack of opportunities, general dissatisfaction towards work or the company, and so on. All of these and many others will make it hard to take ownership if you are not prepared to deal with them appropriately.
If, for some reason, the resistance against taking ownership feels overwhelming and you cannot commit to it, you should take a deep look into yourself and the work you are doing. Can you figure out why you find it so hard or even impossible to do? The later principles in this book will address these issues, but before you start with them, look at the list of questions below to help you try and figure out what might be some of your reasons.
- The company cause:
- Do you believe in the mission of the company, and do you feel that you are doing meaningful work that resonates with your personal worldview and how you want to impact the world around you?
- If you don’t fully believe in your company, do you at least approve what the company stands for, even if it doesn’t fully resonate with you?
- Does your company and work provide you with the essential things that it should?
- Meaningful and interesting work that offers enough challenges and possibilities to feel a sense of achievement.
- A just cause that you can contribute to through working for your company. This means that you can believe in the company and its purpose, and accept its values.
- Enough freedom so you can express yourself through your work and live your life in the way you want.
- Career goals and chances for promotion and support from management.
- A clear connection between your efforts and rewards.
- Possibilities to be creative and use your strengths.
- Possibilities to learn and grow.
- Social relationships with colleagues.
- Enough money and some perks to feel fairly compensated and maintain the lifestyle you want.
- Enough security and stability to suit your life situation.
- A safe and supportive work environment.
- The work you do:
- Is it the work itself that is not interesting enough for you?
- Does your work have enough complexity to challenge you?
- Do you feel that you don’t have any further goals or a future in general in this field of work?
- The career you have:
- Do you know what you want in general for your career and life?
- Do you have goals and plans for your career?
- Do you feel stuck and don’t know what to do to get moving again?
- You and your personal situation:
- Complacency: Do you feel too content with your current effort and rewards, so you just don’t feel like putting in the effort to push for more?
- Do you feel that you only do it for the money and minimum effort for a maximum reward is enough?
- Do you lack discipline to execute the things that don’t come easy?
- Is your interest and focus placed somewhere else, and should you realign them?
- Do you lack the courage to take responsibility and stand out from the crowd?
- Do you just feel lazy in general and don’t feel like doing much?
- Are you afraid of potentially causing conflict if you tried to push harder?
The answers to these questions play a big role in your current situation, company, and personal life. Luckily, they all also have their cures, enabling you to take ownership of your work and control of your career. My recommendation is to have a deep conversation with yourself and then preferably with your mentor, a coach, or a trusted friend or family member to reflect on the situation. If you don’t believe in your company and in your own work there, it is time to change either your beliefs or the company if you ever want to be able to thrive in your career. You just cannot fully commit to a company and work that you do not believe in at all, and everyone will suffer as a result: You will be more or less miserable at work, and the company will get lousy results from you.
If you feel that your problems are more on a personal level, i.e. in your attitudes and behaviours, you should take an even deeper look at yourself. You should first start to figure out what you are currently doing, what you would actually like to do, and why this is not already happening. You should try to figure out some kind of direction for yourself and start working towards it. If you are confused and just working aimlessly without a reason or direction, you will never be able to commit to anything you are doing, much less take full ownership of your work and career. There is a complete section in my book, 7 Principles of Becoming a Leader built exactly for this purpose: To help you figure out what you really want and put that into a concrete plan that will guide you from now on.
Changes on a personal level can be extremely difficult, as they pretty much require a transformation in your identity. Very few manage to pull themselves out of these situations alone. If you know that you have to change, talk to your trusted friends, family, a mentor, or a coach, and ask them to support you. You also have to figure out what exactly you have to change, and make it precise and intentional. Vague attempts to “change for the better” carry pretty much 0% chance of making an actual impact. You will need the proper knowledge, process, plan, and support to ensure your success. You also need your own will and commitment to change, as the motivation for change has to be born inside of you rather than come from (or be forced upon you by) any external source or person.
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