2012 the year of integrity?
It’s been quite a while since I was employed by a corporation and I would like to reflect on some of my ruminations and observations regarding work / life balance.
In my own therapy practice I am very diligent about getting the right balance between; hours worked, time for research, avoiding emotionally toxic clients, relaxation and exercise.
For instance, I only very occasionally work a Saturday morning and never on Sundays, I try to take my dog out for a walk during the day (not only for his benefit, mainly for mine) and I find an hour a day to read and study new concepts and therapeutic interactions. And although I work 4 evenings a week I also find time to have a couple of extra hours in bed a few mornings a week!
Obviously, on the flip side I take the risks associated with being self-employed.
The reason I mention this is because so many of my clients (who are in full time employment) tell me that what is expected from them by their employers is rising year by year, longer hours, adhesion to more processes, more overlap with other disciplines, more travel, more phone calls, more responsibility, to be more flexible and comfortable with change and measurement. I can see why the employer wants this, however, what about the employee?
Integrity in the work place
Since the early 1990′s corporations have (on paper) strived to be more caring, more integrous, more green, more xyz…. There has become a marketing need to be seen to be trading with more integrity, you only need to look at the mission statements of large corporations to see how they are trying to position themselves in the eyes of their market place, the city and their investors. However, there is often a big difference between a projection of integrity from the marketing department and the delivery of integrity back towards their own employees, and, importantly, many employees are not acting with integrity towards themselves.
My beef is not with the corporations, they can do what they wish, they are tied into the cycle of returning value to shareholders and keeping the financial markets fed with the right messages, no, my question is for the employees – “Where does your own well-being start and stop as an employee?”
Do we need more balance?
Only you can answer that! I know that when I started working back in 1979 it was a very different world and the expectations that were put upon me were fewer, the job was 9 – 5 and they paid overtime! There were no computers and lots of administration staff and receptionists – all I had to focus on was my job.
Over the years everything has changed, people have to multi-task, travel further distances, put up with repetitive systems, stay till the work is done, answer the phones, get the post and cover for absent colleagues – more work is done by fewer people in less time. I know that is the way of the world these days, however, more and more people in their 40′s are starting to say “I don’t want to play this game anymore, there has got to be more to life than this?” When the stresses or work overlap into your home and social life – where do you draw the line?
How we trick ourselves – and justify doing more and more
Today is January 10th 2012 and already five people this year have said to me “I don’t know why I am working this hard, there must be more to life than this….” or words to that effect. They don’t know what they do want, however they are realising more and more what they don’t want.
I feel I need to bring in another aspect to this discussion which is “what is your personality type?” because the internal dialogue and justifications that we use when we work harder and harder differ from person to person dependant on their personality profile.
Type 1 Personalities: are self reliant, highly responsible and hard working individuals, they place very high value on integrity and keeping standards to a high quality, as such, they tend to use lots of energy trying to be perfect and get angry as a consequence of the constant struggle to get things ‘right’. Because they think that their way is best, they tend to be critical of others, especially those who shirk responsibility – they often feel anxious and resent those who get away with not following rules.
Type 2 Personalities: are empathetic and warm and try to show others their ‘best side’. Within a working environment they get trapped by trying to be indispensable to far too many people and stretch themselves too far, they also get trapped by expecting the same levels of helpfulness back.
Type 3 Personalities: are self assured, personable, practical and efficient and identify with the approval they get from being successful, they are uncomfortable failing or not being in control so they try to always portray a favourable image and suppress emotions to get things done. Although they do perform well in a team, they are also very competitive. therefore, dislike inefficiency or criticism.
Type 4 Personalities: are warm, empathetic, sensitive and creative, they tend to idealise the world and long for ‘something’ that will make them feel complete. They hate mundane repetitive tasks and like to stamp a little uniqueness onto whatever they do. If they are not supported, encouraged or ‘loved’ they feel abandoned and this makes them angry and depressed. Although they are comfortable with external change they personally don’t like being changed by others
Type 5 Personalities: are private, studious, knowledgeable and enjoy thinking about problems (prefer thinking to actually doing!) They are dependable and respectful, although work may take longer to do because it has to be right and they need their own ‘private’ space to do it. Because they don’t like small talk they are often misunderstood and get uncomfortable when too many demands are placed on them.
Type 6 Personalities: are trustworthy and very loyal, normally with a nice sense of humour, however, they need to feel secure so are always scanning around and planning ahead for things that could go wrong or threaten their status-quo. They like the security authority figures may provide and will conform to their needs, however, if the leader does not have integrity they may rebel – this flip-flopping around confuses others. Because they doubt other peoples motives and dislike any form of criticism. They may appear cold when you first meet them, however, once they ‘let you in’ they are kind and loyal. Because they fear criticism they find it hard to quickly finish projects as they want it to be absolutely accurate or they get caught in loops of procrastination. They tend to get stressed and anxious quite easily.
Type 7 Personalities: are optimistic, fun loving and adventurous, great visionaries and starters of projects, however, lack the patience or attention to detail to see jobs through to the end. They are drawn to the more hedonistic things in life, focusing on tasks that are pleasurable or fun. They can be loud and overbearing, yet mean no harm. They need lots of interesting things happening or they get bored and this leads them to feeling anxious. They are good net-workers and can be very creative when brain storming.
Type 8 Personalities: are controlling, dominant and intuitive, they are driven by justice and truth and readily take charge of situations. They enjoy delivering on goals as this reinforces their self-worth, they don’t care if you don’t like them, however, they do care that you respect them. They are comfortable speaking their mind and have an energy that propels projects forward, they are not afraid to go first and will be controlling of people, situations and resources. Taking so much responsibility does lead to being stressed, yet this is usually handled well.
Type 9 Personalities: are harmonious and peaceful team-players, they like things ‘just so’, repetition and stability are important to them. They perceive and adapt to the needs of others very well, often at the expense of their own needs. They dislike change and any form of conflict, this may lead them to suppress feelings and opinions for long periods, thereafter exploding with frustration, before returning to a quiet suppression, this may cause others to ‘walk on eggshells’ around them.
Excuses we use to justify being stressed
So, you can see that employees respond to the needs of the corporation in many differing and diverse manners and by recognising which personality group you belong to it is possible to understand why employers ‘push your emotional button’ – more importantly though, you are able to recognise when your ego is coming up with excuses to defend your putting up with unfair or over-burdening work loads.
So what I am proposing is working smarter, and working harder where it is appropriate to work harder – on what the employer wants rather than what your ego / personality profile fears. This way you are working with integrity to yourself as well as to them.
Of course, if they do not have integrity for you – perhaps you need to ask yourself if you need to be there. And if that raises fears about finding a new job or security then you need to ask yourself what part of you is afraid? What part of you thinks it can’t get a new job or retrain? What part of you is fearful? It is at this point that real personal growth can begin because you have found the core of your fears.
Are you being integrous to your personality type?
In my experience most people don’t really know who they are – they say “well, I’m just me” – Well, I’d say you are not! You are the sum of your DNA, your upbringing, your schooling, your religion and the events of your life. You are a complex human being – and most humans don’t understand who they are.
If they did understand it would be so much easier for them to think, say and do things that were in-line with their emotional and physical needs. You could say that if you really knew what made you tick, then you’s know what to do to make yourself happy.
The good news is it is never too late to learn and never to late to align yourself with your true fundamental needs.