It’s hard to stay positive all the time. Life doesn’t always give us exactly what we want, and often that irritates us. When we get frustrated or irritated, we can do a few things. One, we can totally shut down; two, we can try to make things bad for whomever got on our nerve; three, we can find alternative ways to work our way through it.

Creative Commons License David Goehring via Compfight

When it comes to work, the same types of things occur. I remember once finishing a project that didn’t end on the high note I was hoping for. What occurred is that new management came into the organizations I was working for, which had split near the end of the engagement, and basically decided to shut down the project step by step. I didn’t have a problem with that; after all, that’s the life of an independent consultant. What I didn’t like, though, was how communications pretty much shut down over the last three weeks of the project.

All seemed well at both places initially. However, it became clear pretty fast that there were some changes coming. Access was starting to be shut down in some cases, with no explanation, even when questions were asked. By the time notice was given that the assignment would be ending (the contract called for two weeks notice of the ending of any engagements), it was already apparent based on what had been occurring.

Though good work had been performed, proven by an increase in legitimate revenues over a period of 3 months, the new management pretty much acted like myself and the other consultants didn’t exist. They weren’t there for our successes, so we meant nothing to them. Even some of the personnel who were there while we were doing our thing suddenly seemed uncomfortable. One day, two senior directors of one of the organizations came into the office I was working out of, and wouldn’t even look at me, though I said hello. The lack of appreciation and professionalism was appalling, and I was ready to end the project there and then and come home.

Taking a look back on the three things I mentioned above, I had some options. I could have checked out and left. The way I saw things, they probably wouldn’t have even noticed that I had left. Whereas they had abided by the contract and informed me of their decision, the truth is that I could have left the same day without any problems, because they had already made other provisions that didn’t include any of the work I was still doing for them, and I'd have still gotten paid. However, I knew that had I left it wouldn’t have left the new management with a good impression of me or my company; I'd have never had an opportunity to work with them again, even if it didn't look like I was going to work with them again anyway. Because of the lack of communication, I don’t even know that they noticed I was still around, but I had pride in the work I still had to do, and was going to put in my time.

I could have tried to sabotage the organization. Even though much access had been taken away, not all of it had been, because I still had some work to do. Were I the vindictive type, I could have easily set some things in motion that they wouldn’t have ever caught, or certainly wouldn’t have been able to track back to me. Some people feel justified in certain situations to get even; not me.

I did the third option I mentioned. Whereas the new upper management wouldn’t talk to me, the individual managers that I’d been working with before were still engaging me. Those individuals, as well as other employees I’d worked with, were glad to have me still helping them out until the final days, and were glad that I was still around. Those who commented to me said they’d never had anyone else who’d taken an interest in them or their departmental issues, and they lamented that I was leaving.

The sense of appreciation was welcome, and it reminded me of the maxim that all anyone really wants is to be shown a little bit of appreciation for the work they do. I worked up until the next to last day, when I finally completed the final projects I had set for myself. At that point, I decided I wouldn’t come in the next day, because I didn’t want to get paid for doing nothing, which is what I had left to do; luckily, I got paid anyway.

Every day managers go into the workplace and take their employees for granted. Many of them feel that paying employees should be a good enough reason for them to give the best they have to offer, and that nothing else is needed. Money has been proven not to be the best motivator of employee behavior. What does it cost you to give and show a little bit of appreciation for the work others give to you? If people are performing well, does it hurt to let them know you’ve noticed? Doesn’t every one want to know that what they’re doing is valued by someone? Don't you?

Don’t save it for only work either. Every encounter you have tomorrow, and for the next week, look for a reason to say thank you to someone. If they deserve more than that, then say something. Watch the look on their faces change; you’ll feel better for it.

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