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Where does the Corporate Grinder fit in our society?

June 10, 2021
What do I mean by the “Corporate Grinder?” This is the person looking for a place to fit in, do their job, help their colleagues, and have it support the rest of their life. When thinking about their priorities, rarely is it a conversation about rising to the executive offices.

CG’s are more likely to blend in, be a reliable colleague, and have family and community responsibilities that fill their evenings and weekends. You want her on your team because she can be counted on to do her job impeccably, understands the politics of the office, and is the glue of the operation.

She avoids competing with those climbing the corporate ladder and instead enjoys working together helping others to succeed as much or more than herself. Unfortunately, she may also end up being pigeon-holed because of her competence. There is prestige that comes with being the efficient or knowledgeable about a fundamental process could make her too valuable to allow her to do something else. Initially this recognition and respect feels like an honor and with time this could morph into boredom or worse feeling stuck. The boredom slowly undermines the Corporate Grinder’s attitude which starts to be seen in their productivity slipping and spirit for collaborating disappears. The hallmark of the Corporate Grinder is diminishing which may begin to be seen by management. Team members are working in small ways to compensate for someone who used to be the keystone of the operation. As a result, she is being marginalized and left out of key strategic conversations. The CG feels this and is both irritated and at the same time becoming more anxious because this job is what she does, who she IS. It is what she is known for doing and its loosing importance. Her identity is slipping away. What’s worse is she has done this job so long she doesn’t know what else she could or would want to do. What skills and strategies made her good at this job, are what will make it hard for her to make a change.

Somewhere along the way she forgot who she was and became the work she was doing. She forgot what she brought to the job and what she enjoyed about the job. Instead, she grew to believe the job is who she is. Maybe she never really learned who she was and what made her happy. Now when she is feeling stuck, seeing her identity and job slipping away, fear is emerging, and she doesn’t know how to recover the joy she once felt.

How to change feeling trapped into taking control?

The starting point for the Corporate Grinder looking to make a change or to recover that joy in work is to consider what is the source of my joy? Why is identifying my joy at work important? Joy at work implies I am happy. Happy people are more relaxed, feel more in control, and will be more creative than those who are unhappy or fear they could be let go. A happy person will be more productive. All of these contribute to the value the Corporate Grinder provides for the organization.

Joy is linked to motivation. If you feel you need to change your job, but your identity is tied to a job you hate doing, you will feel trapped because you don’t want to do what you don’t like in another job. You won’t interview well, and you are more likely to become depressed.

Most of my clients who are Corporate Grinders discovered they lost track of what they enjoyed doing at work and became focused on titles, compensation, and reputation to define their enjoyment. When they connected their joy with those things they enjoyed doing, they understood what they should do next. My clients often cite connections with peers and collaboration to be important elements of jobs they love. Identifying these elements along with recognizing what activities they like to do gave them the direction for what to seek to do more in their current job or to ensure they are present in the next job. Identification of these elements resulted in growth in their self-confidence and their motivation to create better situations for themselves.

Corporate Grinders are achievers. They know how to get things done. When they rely upon others to define what is important and being told how they need to do something to achieve, they may lose trust in themselves and what they have to offer. We all benefit when we know what we can do to be happy, what brings us joy. If we control this, we control our attitude. Our days of feeling trapped, and anxious give way to feeling empowered and engaged.

Reach out to me if you want help finding your joy. It could be your step in the direction to build a life that you love.