I am in the midst of middle school drama with my daughter, Sarah. As teamCOTERIE was sitting around talking after work one day this week, I was sharing the latest events of middle school. And we all kind of cringed. The memories for everyone suddenly flashed through our minds, the stories flowed, and then we laughed and said thank goodness we are past that. But are we really?
Sarah is 12 years old and in 7th grade. Each evening as we discuss her day, I am reminded how hard middle school is. How the girls are not so nice to each other. How cliques are formed and almost impossible to penetrate. How friends you have had all through elementary school are suddenly not your friends anymore. How the popular kids always make the team or get the grade, deserved or not. How the struggles to fit in occupy almost every single waking moment.
I try my best to reassure her that things will get better. That people mature and grow out of the cattiness that exists in middle school. That as long as she is herself and is nice to others and working as hard as she can in class and on the volleyball courts, she will be fine. I tell her she is strong, beautiful and smart and that “she has this”. Then she heads off to bed with a smile on her face. That smile of HOPE. And I feel a little guilty. Do people really grow out of middle school behavior?
The workplace can be just as hard as middle school. Think about it. You have worked with that guy who always takes credit for everything. You have tried your best to get in with the “cool” kids to no avail. You watch the lunch bunch leave together every day as you sit in your cubicle alone never getting an invite to join in. You work endlessly on a project and receive no recognition or credit from your boss. You feel defeated. You have not felt appreciated in a long time. You have had those days where you just want to crawl under your desk and hide. Let’s look at some facts?
Workplace bullying is real. Maybe you have felt it or witnessed it where you work. According to business.com, 65.5% of American adults are impacted by workplace bullying, either as the perpetrator, the target, or a witness. This greatly impacts workplace productivity and morale. 60% of workplace bullying targets are women. Unfortunately, the targets of bullying lose their jobs at a significantly higher rate than the perpetrators. It just doesn’t seem fair (that’s also a quote from Sarah about middle school).
So how do we ensure we are not reliving middle school in the workplace?
EMPOWER YOURSELF … at work we have a choice. We have a choice of who we work for. We have a choice of the jobs we take and the teams we join. So why not surround yourself with people and a culture of support. Empower yourself to make the best choices about how, where and with whom you spend your days. Believe that you deserve to be your best. Being your best is a choice, it’s a decision we make every day.
I have worked in “middle school” workplaces over my 25 years and have found that I was not my best in those situations. So, I made a decision to find an organization that fits me. It took a while, I had to try on a lot of glass slippers before I found my perfect fit. At COTERIE, I have found a team and a company that is committed to bringing out the best in each other. It’s more than something that is printed on our value statement. It’s more than corporate speak in team meetings. It is engrained in who we are. Each person brings different experiences and perspectives. Our team meetings are engaging. No one wins unless we all win. That’s a mindset engrained in our culture and in our communities.
We are developing communities that are positive environments for people to thrive and be their best. Our team is constantly learning how to be of service to our members, so that everyone feels supported. Is it a challenge? Yes, no one else is creating coworking spaces that provide the level of support, education and encouragement that we are. We are EMPOWERED to make a difference.
I wish middle school were easier for Sarah. I wish girls understood at that age the importance of being together and supporting each other is more powerful than tearing each other down. I am doing my small part to teach Sarah how to survive the next year. Fingers crossed for me (and her) J
Careers and jobs are hard, so make sure the environment you choose to work in supports you. Let’s leave middle school behaviors for the 7th graders.
Chief of Staff