Even as an employee, think of yourself as “First name Last name Inc.”
One of the greatest dangers to which employees can fall prey is thinking of their company as a person.
Businesses do a good job of building personalities for themselves. They may be ethical, honest, or socially responsible. They may value honesty, quality, and integrity. They might describe themselves as ‘families.’ Management in these companies might say, “people are our greatest asset.”
We identify with people who are like us, and who share our values, but companies are not people. Would you ever tell your mother or child they are now surplus to requirements, and that you intend to permanently sever your ties with them because you need to weather a downturn / maximize shareholder return / ‘pivot?’
Framing the relationship we have with our employers is important for our own health. Many of us have become bitter when friends do not invest in a relationship to the same extent we do. Perhaps we are always the one calling them, or we are the ones who coordinate gatherings, but when there is an imbalance we only have ourselves to blame.
We feel bitter because we have failed to protect our boundaries. When we don’t protect our boundaries we end up over-investing in a relationship in which we don’t receive enough in return to sustain us. What we receive does not necessarily need to be proportional to what we give, but it must be ‘enough.’ If we end up giving too much, we are, through our own actions, choosing to deplete our energy. That is on us.
“Resentment is like drinking a poison and then waiting for the other person to die.” ~ Carrie Fisher
Just as it’s important for us to recognize the energy we give and receive in relationships, it’s important to do so at work. Sometimes a company will do more for us, and sometimes we will do more for a company. There will rarely be total equality in the relationship, but there ought to be a healthy balance; you need to derive ‘enough.’ Correct framing can help.
I see the companies and organizations that employ us not as people, but as communities of like-minded individuals. (I think I may have picked up this perspective from Adam Grant.) This helps me…