We’ve all been backed into a corner before, wrought with stressful decisions and difficult tasks to complete. This week was no exception, although rather than work backing me into a corner, it was feet of snow, courtesy of Snow Storm Jonas. Having grown up in the north, the massive snowfall was all too familiar. However, for countless others, this was uncharted territory—a whole new snow-covered world. How they assessed and reacted to the situation made clear parallels to our workplace counterparts. Do any of these people sound familiar?
The Wait-and-See-er. We all know this guy—heck, most of us aren’t his biggest fan. He waits inside, constantly peering out the window expecting the magical snow elves to clear his unplowed driveway. Maybe, if he waits long enough, the mess will melt away—problem solved? Not so fast, my friend. That’s simply called lack of accountability. Before long, the skirting of responsibility leads to irritation amongst those closest to you as they are forced to pick up and sort through your mess. No one likes picking up after others, let alone their peers. Make it a habit and you’ll find yourself alone beneath the mountain of snow.
The Six-Hour Shoveler. For those who have been through a blizzard before, you know shoveling several feet of snow is no picnic—and if you haven’t, I’m sure you can imagine. I’ve been there before and know what it’s like to procrastinate until the very end, only to break my back to dig myself out of the mess. It’s like writing a 30-page deck the morning it’s due. So how do you remedy the situation? Tackle it piece by piece. Shovel every six hours to break up the workload. What may seem like extra hours of work ultimately eases your burden in the end—and likely that of many others.
The Backseat Driver. The saying goes, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” Though I don’t subscribe to that theory, it feels especially relevant here. Sometimes, people feel that their opinion poses enough contribution to a task, rather than physically following through on it. “Bend your knees so you don’t hurt your back!” or “Make sure you clear the cars now or we’ll have to do it tomorrow!” are common recommendations. While helpful in the end, everyone is much more appreciative of someone who leads by example over one who stands behind their action-oriented counterparts.
The Good Samaritan. Everybody loves a helper—that person who offers his or her services to others out of kindness, rather than seeking recognition. They’re reliable, genuine, and are the ultimate team player. When you find your walkway cleared out, that person doesn’t stand at your door waiting for a pat on the back. Rather, they enjoy the anonymity and joy they bring others by easing their workload. Not everyone is wired this way, which is fine. However, paying it forward every now and then will go a long way towards creating a happy neighborhood—better yet, a happy workplace.
The Proactive Planner. Preparedness is one attribute you can never have too much of. Some things you just can’t foresee, but for those other scenarios, it pays to be prepared. Whether you’ve prepped for the blizzard with a snow blower, hired a crew to help, or simply have a plan in place to avert potential disaster, your preparation puts you far ahead of countless others who haven’t even purchased a shovel. Some of these things you learn with experience, while some are simply common sense. Preparation is not an inherited skill; it’s learned. The amount of effort you put into it will determine how others view you—and ultimately, your occupational success.
To see your workplace dynamic recreated elsewhere lends you a renewed appreciation and understanding of how we all function within the bigger picture. We all have our habits and tendencies, but it’s important to remember that we are not tied to our current role. We grow and change by how we prepare and react to certain situations. Who knew a blizzard would be a parallel to show you that?