5 Signs the "Norma Rae Mentality" is Killing your Career

How many times have you witnessed something at work that was SO wrong it made your blood boil…the injustices, the unfair, the blatant disregard for the company’s principles you follow so

diligently?  Silence means you agree, right? What is I told you that sometimes, especially at work, silence can save your job, and sanity?


Let’s get it straight, I’m not talking about sexual harassment or discrimination or anything that is classified as illegal. Those things should be dealt with immediately, although navigated carefully.

What I’m talking about are things like bad management, layoffs, and how the leadership team chooses to move the company forward.  Of course, you have opinions. We all do. But if you are guilty of any of the following, you need to back off the soap box and realign your focus:

1.      You’re known as “Champion of the Underdog”:  Are you the first one to “hear out” that person who feels they’re being treated unfairly? Or do you witness it and pull them aside to let them know you are “with them” while you both ruminate over the injustice of it all? Chances are, you’re even reacting like it happened to YOU. Well, why not take that energy and become a mentor? Talk instead about how that person can effectively navigate the situation.

2.     You have HR on speed dial: If I had a dollar for every time someone came to me to report on something non-illegal they weren’t happy with I’d be coaching people for free right now. Ask yourself – what is it you really want? Is it really better-quality paper towels in the ladies’ room? Or are you looking to be heard? Think first.

3.     You’ve appointed yourself CEO: Are you constantly frustrated because of the absurd decisions leadership is making? I see this often with layoffs, strategic initiatives, and hiring choices. Tricky waters here, because pride in your job often leads to a certain feeling of ownership. However, if you find yourself talking more about your “feelz” instead of focusing on your job, you may not have one for long. Know the span of your control, and focus your feelings there. That’s what gets you paid. As I used to quote to my team “not my circus, not my monkeys”.

4.     Your manager is a moron: If everything your manager says produces internal eye rolls, check yourself before you wreck yourself. Yes, there are some managers sitting in the wrong seat on the bus. Trust me - reacting to them in a negative way does absolutely NOTHING for you. Seek to understand, and try to find a way to work with them. Or, find another job. At a certain point, it’s your fault for staying.

5.     Everyone knows how you feel: Ok Captain Killjoy, this might be hard to hear. But the true mark of a great employee (and leader) is consistency. Unless you are constantly negative, and everyone knows you will spout your dissatisfaction every time they sit next to you. And you start to attract the negative Susie’s to your corner. Think…is this how you want to be known? Or would you rather be a thoughtful, engaged champion for solutions? One can be a disease to a team, the other can uplift. Which one do you think is at the most risk?

Remember, you are the CEO of your own career.  Don’t be one you’d fire yourself.

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