Somebody told me that it takes as long to get over working in a large organisation as you spent in it. Now, I am one of the first to point out how toxic our working environments have become, that bullying has become so prevalent that it is now a default management practice, how the pressure to conform bends people out of shape over time, but even I was shocked by this.
That means that every day you spend in that job you hate, working with those people you despise, wading through the corporate bullshit and compromising your life for the pay cheque, you are storing up another day of dealing with the fall-out.
I thought “This can’t be true”, so I started talking to people about it. The responses I got surprised me.
“Yeah, that sounds about right”
“If you are lucky. If you’re not, it’s longer”
Or course, it depends on your experience. Some people have a great time working in large organisations and get to fulfil their potential and have a fabulous lifestyle. I obviously don’t know many people like that. I am not sure how many there are around but we know that only just over a third of people are actively engaged in work, so they are definitely a minority.
The rest of us, it seems, get a bit battered and bruised on our way through the corporate mincer and, yes, it takes us some time to get over it. It takes time for the bruises to fade, the cuts to heal and for us to return to something like our real shape.
There are two conclusions I draw from this.
Firstly, we have to help people heal themselves after their experience in corporate life and speed up the process of repair and renewal. That’s what I try to do through After the Mothership.
Secondly, we have to fix the problem at source and change our organisations from the toxic, finance-driven work environments that predominate today to people-centred, purposeful, life-affirming enterprises of tomorrow. This I address through my work with Coincidencity.
And I guess there’s a third, which is to educate people in strategies and techniques to protect themselves from the worst effects of those toxic environments and give them other options so that they can vote with their feet. That is, to show people how to be more resilient and take control of their lives, which is what I do through coaching when I work with people in the early part of their careers.
Work should be something that engages and fulfils us, not something that we have to get over.