Stop Being a Professional Child!

Huffington Post Business Original Post: 

Have you ever felt like some people you work with act like spoiled children as opposed to professional adults? Now ask yourself, are you one of those people? Sometimes being self aware enough to realize you’re a professional child is not easy, unless, maybe you are Pee-wee Herman. Believe it or not, the shift to adulthood in the workplace comes from within, not time at a company or “hard work.” It’s all about how you approach your career and your daily work. .

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There was a time in my late twenties and even early thirties, before I was a Coach, when I would commiserate with friends about our bosses. We all had constant gripes about micromanagement, not enough pay, and ridiculous expectations. At some point, the switch happened. In my bitch fests with friends, the focus turned to who worked for us and the ways they weren’t moving the ball forward.

The difference in these two states of employment is the latter is a discussion among adults. We all understood what our function was in our respective businesses. We figured out how to move business and work in a way that we were in charge of our own fates. With that switch came more responsibility and, yes, management of people. What company wouldn’t want more adults working for them to train others, right?

Notice, the switch didn’t come from time or energy. It didn’t happen because of blood sweat and tears. Nor did this shift come from super-duper focus on work to the exclusion of life balance. It didn’t happen because someone was miserable in their job. So you skipping that date to work late is not getting you promoted.

Signs you may be a “Child” at work - beside the boss putting a pacifier in your mouth:

  • You spend mental energy frustrated with your boss/management rather than really understanding his/her mission.
  • Younger/less experienced people are promoted above you.
  • You’re not invited to present at meetings because your boss is presenting.
  • Meetings with your boss are more instructional or accountable than friendly.
  • Colleagues value you as a key person to commiserate with on work problems - they know you can relate.
  • You work long hours because you have to - rather than because you want to.
  • The common underlying tone to your boss’ instruction is, “because I said so.”

Signs you are an “Adult” or at least a teenager at your job:

  • You’re managing people (or being groomed to manage) and larger projects affecting the bottom line of the business with multiple people.
  • You’re in sync with your boss on most issues.
  • You value direction from the boss as a nice break from making so many decisions.
  • People at work value you as someone to talk to about being successful.
  • If you left, or took a vacation, your boss would be pissed off because their workload would increase considerably - not that you don’t deserve a nice vacation!
  • Your boss invites you to take part in higher level meetings when appropriate and gives you credit.
  • The boss and management treat you as a colleague. They have friendly chats with you about non-work related items - or about big things going on in the business.
  • People above you are excited to hear your thoughts.

How do you make the shift? Well, for one, grow up. Change your thinking about work. Are you making your boss’ life easier? Are you working to create something or working to rack up hours? Shift your projects, by better understanding what your boss or the management is trying to accomplish. Change jobs or even the company you work for and move where you can have a fresh start and people can treat you like an adult - until you act childish of course.

If you feel like you don’t know where to start, you may need a coach to help you. Most of the actions I coach people through on this subject are really to fix the things that are blocking their success. I believe the universe is trying to give them what they want. It’s just hard to get past the BS we all create sometimes.