By Kamladevi Sharma
Eight tips for satisfaction in a bureaucratic work environment.
Red-tape environments, or bureaucratic environments, are still prominent in many businesses and governments all over the world today. Coined in 1864 by Max Weber, the model can be undoubtedly relied upon for its administrative benefits of:
• structured duties and responsibilities that prevent overlap,
• standard rules and procedures for consistent employee behaviors,
• systems and processes for transparency and accountability and,
• improved performance for employees who specialize in their jobs.
This model of a clear hierarchy is ideal if you want to ensure the ease and flow of your business, and to achieve its overall goals and objectives. However, it can also be argued that the robotic nature of the bureaucratic model can impinge on your sense of self in the process.
Unfortunately, the red-tape and paperwork can be overwhelming to deal with, the time for decisions to be taken for unpredictable outcomes can be frustrating, and you can easily feel as if you do not belong to where you are with the level of impersonality present. Certainly, your mental, emotional and even physical well-being feels the brunt of a bureaucratic environment if you are unable to manage yourself effectively.
Nonetheless, the bureaucratic model is what it is and, looking at it realistically, it will not change based on your negative emotional responses if you feel victimized by it. So what are the options available to you if you’re “growing” in a red-tape environment? How can you feel satisfied while still experiencing a high level of bureaucracy in your daily life?
Satisfaction Via a Growth Mindset
Carol Dweck’s teachings on a growth mindset over the years has had significant impact on people’s ability to revive from setbacks in all aspects of their life. The belief that failure is temporary and people’s intelligence can improve with consistent learning has taken an upswing at many universities and now sets the stage for success at achieving one’s life goals. Applying the unique teachings of this level of mindset to enhance an employee’s growth in a bureaucratic model can be challenging; however, it is definitely worth the effort for the mental, emotional and physical well-being that can be achieved. As an employee, you can create and amplify the momentum for this in the following ways:
- Remember your “why.” Why are you doing what you are doing? Why have you applied for your specific job, and what do you intend to achieve from it?
Often, especially in the initial stages of your career, you may apply for a job for the experience and money it brings to your life. However, your intention on the job will change as you grow and encounter different experiences. If you’re not conscious enough to declutter often and become aware of the birth of a new desire, you will feel disconnected from the job and experience overwhelm easily. In these moments, it is important to remember your “why” and, as it changes, affirm a new “why.” Choosing mantras that are in alignment with your “why” and repeating them daily can benefit you as well. For example, “I am surrounded by the essence of peace to get my work done peacefully. I am productive and successful now moving forward.”
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. What are you good at? What do you feel confident about? What do you shy away from?
In knowing your strengths, you know which traits to use and when to use them. This helps to capitalize on opportunities of growth presented to you—whether it be a promotion or a chance to be seen and heard on the job. In knowing your weaknesses, you know what you fear and what you need to get comfortable with, to then turn into your strength. Fears limit your growth on and off the job. It’s advisable to face them head on, to overcome them and stand in your personal power of well-being because you are as fearless and authentic as you desire to be.
- Get real about your work and measure it against your self-worth and vision. How do you value your time and energy? What do you prefer to spend your time and energy on?
Know this before accepting your job for “what it is.” If your job in a red-tape environment will aid you in achieving a long-term goal, sign your own psychological contract for satisfaction as “it is what it is for my greater good.” This acceptance is important in feeling balanced and at ease within. It commits your subconscious mind to seeking satisfaction in other ways, rather than relying on a job that is not structured to fulfill you at that level. So, be realistic about where you are right now in your life. Strike an agreement with yourself to serve your purpose on the job for as long as it aids your other goals or it plays a role in your overall life’s direction based on your vision.
- Coach yourself every day. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing on your job. Your mental health is your responsibility. Preparing your mind every day for what you have to do on the job is your responsibility. Nurture the belief that your work is contributing to a bigger cause. When you value your work, the system experiences the value of it. Satisfaction comes from the thought of that, at least for the time you choose to remain on the job. Remember, you are your own coach in a red-tape environment so take ownership of it. Speak positive things to yourself daily and immerse yourself in the positive feelings of these words.
- Meditate to recognize the lessons. People will say and do the most unexpected things at the most unexpected times in your work life. Experiencing this as the beauty of life. Instead of reacting to the system and its people, meditate with a different focus. Ask the question, “What can this person or situation teach me in this moment?” This way you take on a problem-solving approach and maintain your inner peace. You mind then looks for solutions, and this level of proactiveness will help you to develop compassion and empathy towards those you are dealing with. The result then will be mirrored back to you.
- Communicate clearly your likes and dislikes on and off the job. Not knowing your likes and dislikes is a weakness in itself. It leads you to reacting to triggers rather than stopping the momentum from being created from the onset. Reflect on your day at night and call out the things you liked and disliked. How can you get more of your likes into a day? How can you use your dislikes to create a better version of yourself? How can you use it to help someone around you? Communicate this to those who can be affected by changes in your words and actions— to get them in alignment with your desires. It helps to keep the flow going, obtain respect for your decisions, and improve your relationships with those close to you.
- Make time for fun and play. The system is serious as it is. You don’t need to be the system. It serves its purpose and so do you. Be mindful, have fun, listen to music, take walks and do stretches, play games, do deep breathing, sing along with the birds and listen to the ocean, immerse yourself in ease whenever you can, as much as you can, on the job. Put a bubble of light around you and go forth to accomplish your day’s work. Keep the mind detached from the people and situations around you, and attached to what makes you feel in flow and at ease. This helps to keep the mind and body relaxed even if the red-tape becomes more dominant in your experience.
- Accept feedback with the intention to keep learning and growing. Whether you like it or not, both positive and negative feedback serves a purpose in your life. Attracting it brings an awareness about yourself that you otherwise did not know. Get comfortable with feedback—good or perceived bad. It’ll help you to know what you need to work on, as someone sees it through their lenses. It’ll also help you to improve your communication skills and get clear on who you truly want to be, as compared to what others perceive you to be.
A red-tape environment is rich with experiences. It is a wonderful place to grow in. The perfect triggers are there to awaken you to learn about the intensity of your emotions, your desires, your creative potential, and your ability to problem-solve. It brings clarity to your self-concept and fosters your stability and job security. You can get misguided easily by the frustration and lack of fast pace at which things flow, and then you become a victim of the system and limit yourself to its limitations. Superseding these mindset limitations and being your authentic self keeps the opportunities for progress and growth open. You are adding value in some form or fashion and, you can derive satisfaction from it. It’s your mindset that really challenges you in the system. So, challenge yourself to deal with it. That way, no other challenge can challenge you beyond your power.
Kamladevi Sharma is a professional life coach and business consultant who specializes in mindset and personal development strategy. She teaches entrepreneurs and people in management how to balance their personal and professional lives and thrive for more fulfilment, success, ease and flow. Over 4,000 people have benefitted from her training globally, and she has helped over 250 businesses to kickstart a momentum for success in Guyana and around the world. She lives in Guyana, South America and is passionate about sustaining generations via growth mindset coaching. Kamladevi’s coaching expertise has been featured in the Guyana Times Sunday Magazine, the Carib HR Forum and several podcasts on various platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts and RadioPublic. You can find her at https://www.revive.coach.