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My Job Status is "It's Complicated"

I feel like in my career of over 30 years in healthcare it deserves a relationship status of “it’s complicated.” I’m sure this feeling is not limited to just working in healthcare either but rather is something a lot of people could laugh in agreement about with their own job situation. Given the amount of job changes that are necessary in today’s corporate environment to simply navigating the political landscape of your department it is not easy having a job. The it’s complicated condition comes from a place of not knowing day-to-day how I feel about any of this anymore or if I should feel it at all. It is something so important to my very livelihood and yet it often leaves me feeling less than secure, confident and even empowered to live my best life some days. It is complicated.

Somewhere between the eloquently written company values that attracted me to the companies I have worked for and the day-to-day grind of work in my roles I have found a disconnection. I have never figured out if that gap is intentional but tend to believe it is something tolerated and people do their best to ignore. Inside that gap though is where most of us have to work every day. It is a large space beneath the streets where things actually get done in a company. It is here that we find the allowance for personal agendas, egos and unhealthy competition threaten sneak in and sabotage the focus. Above on the surface, we’re all about doing what is right, delivering value and thriving together but underneath there is a seedy underbelly to it all. It is worse in some places than others certainly but if you think this doesn’t exist in your company, you must be only reading the employee surveys for information about what happens.

We can all usually point to the person or area in our company or department where the gateway to this gap exists. While we all know it and can usually describe it in fine detail, nothing usually happens about it. Poor leadership and management is tolerated and even promoted, abusive and toxic environments allowed to exist and subjectivity for performance applied. It is a matter of who you know and who you can leverage to get what you need done for your own needs in work or your next career move. Saying anything about how any of this works and drawing attention to it, trying to change it or standing up against it means you are not being a team player. It is the unspoken rule of the gap work style.

Things can turn quickly too if you are unfortunate enough to find yourself in a position where it is of advantage for someone else. You can easily find yourself ousted and put in a position where you are either outside the real circle of gap movers and shakers or at worse extreme conveniently needing to find a new job. It is just how things are done and if profits are up or leadership reports look good, then there is no reason to change what is making everyone actually quite miserable about working there. Even if the numbers are not good, if it is something that has actually persisted then the likelihood of changing it are slim.

These conditions are inherent in every company. It is a condition of title, structure, hierarchy and standard setup of a company that creates these problems we then have to navigate to be successful in our job. We all have to pay the price to play in these situations, some more than others depending on your job. You certainly spend a lot more time in this gap the higher in management you go too. Sometimes we can become quite adept at it and other times it’s a pit of snakes we’re trying to not get bit from. Going to our jobs is actually much like the imaginary game of Jumanji where we’re just trying to survive and not lose all our lives in the game so we can keep our retirement, benefits and paychecks coming. Over time we detach emotionally even just to stick with it maybe until we find another job or with hopes something will get better where we are.

If it were only a matter of knowing how to do our jobs well then maybe they wouldn’t be so complicated. Most of us would say we know the functions of our job well. We can do the tasks that are in our job descriptions and complete the things we are assigned on time. It is where doing our job intersects with one of these complicated areas or people