Many adults believe they have it all figured out—all the questions are answered and all the plans are put in place. But the reality is that inside each one of us resides a child-like self—the part of us that is excited and spontaneous, the part that loves to learn and grow.
Just like children need limits and boundaries to be both safe and secure, as well as to allow for exploration and curiosity, we as adults must know and understand our own limits and boundaries at the office, lest we lose creative opportunities.
To be safe and secure and to be able to experiment, make mistakes, learn and grow, it’s useful to understand the rules of engagement at work. The number one rule at any workplace: Remember that the company has a purpose, missions and goals.
All three elements (purpose, mission and goals) coincide to complete one another. The purpose is the company’s main contribution to society, and its mission and goals follow. For example, a company that manufactures infant toys may strive to develop and deliver quality products to their customers. This is a mission, not a purpose. A purpose is deeper; in this situation, the company’s purpose is to enhance and foster life and maximize a child’s development. The goals of this company would typically be financial, such as hitting milestones in terms of units sold, profits and other business markers.
Understanding your company’s direction ensures you’re more secure at work, enhancing your confidence as you walk into work every day knowing exactly why you’re there. Seeking to fulfill your company’s purpose, missions and goals will allow you to communicate better with your coworkers and superiors because you’ll understand the set of parameters you’re working within, allowing you to be fully engaged with your work in a more creative way.
Once you understand how you fit in, then it’s important to understand where your coworkers fit in as well. Seek to understand how they fit in to your company’s purpose, missions and goals before trying to communicate. For example, if you think your boss is a real jerk, ask yourself: Is his behavior out of alignment with the company’s purpose, mission and goals…or is he actually being a jerk? Knowing this will help you truly understand your boss’ behavior and respond accordingly. Office politics and drama often subside when you’re clear in your purpose within the company and you understand the motivations of your coworkers.
As people go through their careers, they find that no two companies are alike. Some businesses may be very clear about their rules of engagement while others may be more convoluted. Don’t be afraid to ask your superior questions like:
Being assertive and direct will show your loyalty to the company and demonstrate your intention to always have their best interests in mind.
The ability to sit in on a meeting or have a chat with people in senior management positions doesn’t have to be intimidating or nerve-wracking. These are the people in the company closest to its purpose, so they likely have insights as to your company’s missions and goals. When we become shy because of intimidation, that energy is sensed by others, often leading to a self-fulfilling-prophecy scenario. Let that stinkin’ thinkin’ go and allow yourself to gain what senior management has to offer you—especially as it relates to the overreaching company purpose.
Know your company’s purpose, mission and goals and how you relate to each in your position, appreciate how your coworkers fit in, and be assertive and you’ll find yourself more engaged, more fulfilled and more confident at work.
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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.