At one place I worked, I facilitated the onboarding process for new hires from around the country. I guided them through their orientation as well as their introduction to their initial corporate training. During this time, these new hires were exposed to the depth of the organization. They discovered for the first time all the services their employer provided to clients. Even though it might have felt overwhelming, they got a full picture of the capabilities of their new employer. By learning of all the ways they could be a part of serving their clients, they gained a new perspective.
In the sixth chapter of 2 Kings, the Scripture shows how important a new perspective is. After the prophet Elisha had repeatedly warned the king of Israel of the Syrian king’s battle plans, one night the infuriated king of Syria travelled to the city where Elisha was in order to capture him. The next morning, Elisha’s servant woke up to see this vast army surrounding the city. Consequently, the servant was terrified.
And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15b-17)
Elisha had a perspective that his servant did not have. Only when his servant looked at the situation the same way Elisha did was he able to see what Elisha could see. It is easy to assume that your perspective is the only one. But your perspective may not be accurate. There may be some information that you are not aware of, like Elisha’s servant discovered. What you don’t know can affect how you see the situation. Therefore, it is important for you to be willing to look beyond your own perspective.
Take time to reflect before you pass judgment on your boss or your workplace. Realize that there may be more to the situation than meets your eye.
Stepping back to see the big picture helps you understand how everything at your workplace fits together. This new perspective can help you realize there may be more going on that you were initially aware of, as the new hires discovered at their orientation.
Here are three ways you can look at your role at your workplace to gain a new perspective.
1. See yourself through your boss’s eyes
You may be aware that your actions impact your boss, but so do your thoughts. Your self-perception—the way that you perceive yourself—affects your relationship with your boss. If you are willing to look at yourself objectively, then you have the opportunity to enhance not only your relationship with your boss, but also the prospects for your career. However, if you think that your perspective cannot be wrong, then you may be in for some rude awakenings throughout your career.
It is important to be willing to admit that you may not always be right. You may not have a correct assessment of the situation. Until you can see your situation from an unbiased vantage point, you may not have an accurate picture of what’s going on.
Taking a new perspective requires that you are able to get out of your own way. By honestly assessing how your boss perceives you, you can be aware of the effect your actions have on your boss.
Having the self-awareness to perceive accurately how you impact your boss will serve you well. But it takes humility to step back and force yourself to think through what your boss may want you to know about yourself.
2. Look at yourself from the team’s vantage point
Look at how your job impacts the rest of your team. Be aware of your performance on the job and how other people look at the work you do.
Your team may not tell you how your performance impacts them, so you may have to look for body language clues. Do they try to leave before you come in the room? Do they not make eye contact with you? If so, there may be something that needs to be resolved with your team.
If you have had difficulty getting along with your team, then take responsibility for your part and apologize for it. Apologizing for past problems will not make you lose credibility; on the contrary, it will actually put you in a better stead with your team. They already know how you have contributed to the problems. Denying that there was ever a problem is not the way to make the problem better. Acknowledging your part in what has happened in the past will allow you to clear the air and work together better in the future.
3. View your role as part of the whole
Try to see how your job fits into the big picture, as the new hires did. Look at how your work impacts the rest of the organization. Think through the importance of your work. Understand why your work matters to the rest of the team. Then do your work to the best of your ability.
Realize that there are many working parts at your organization. Resolve that what you do matters, and resolve to do it the best you can. Choose to benefit the organization through how you do your work.
Do not be discouraged if your work seems small in the big picture. Remember that all work has meaning and significance, and that includes your work and how you do it.
This article has been adapted from the #1 international bestselling book, Dear Employee: What Your Boss Wishes You Knew.
To find out more about Dear Employee, or to purchase a copy of the book, click here.