By Kelley Mast
The workplace can often feel like a cutthroat battlefield thinly veiled by Monday morning handshakes and grinning “how are ya’s.” How do we get ahead in that environment? How do we demonstrate Christ’s love and godly character in the workplace when it may seem that those traits are not valued in today’s work culture? If you would like to increase your value at work the right way, work on developing these five characteristics!
1. Honor for others
How we orient ourselves toward and interact with others in the workplace is critical to our value in our role. When your interactions are grounded deeply in respect and value for others, in seeing the best in others, in assuming the best about the other person’s intentions, those interactions will return the best kinds of dividends. Those around you – including those above you – will come to count on you for wanting what is best for others and for your workplace. Honor is different than being a “yes-man” (or woman) and it’s different than flattery; there is an inherent genuineness that accompanies true honor, and others will recognize it.
2. Integrity – regardless of the status quo
Do you work in an environment where corners are cut, where there are questionable unwritten rules, where wrong actions are overlooked? It can be easy to fall in line with the status quo, especially when you are new to a position. It can be difficult to walk against the current of the company culture, but when you do everything with integrity (that is, do what is right even in the details), you become someone coworkers, supervisors, and subordinates can rely on. Just remember to stir in a healthy dose of diplomacy and honor if you’re swimming against the current of company culture!
3. Direct AND compassionate communication
Communication in the workplace can often feel like stepping into a minefield in the dark. It’s impossible to know all the stressors and sensitivities those around us are shouldering, but it’s important to keep those things in mind when we step into challenging conversations. Demonstrating your ability to handle difficult topics with sensitivity, honor for others, an open mind to other ideas or perspectives, and an awareness of your own stressors will be recognized and valued by those around you. The art of being able to balance directness with empathy is a rare skill, and those who hone it in their lives become the team-builders, the problem-solvers, and the peacemakers in their workplaces.
4. Growth focus
Be purposeful in gathering new skills, a deeper understanding of the complexities of your role, and a grasp of the most current research in your field. The person who does things “the way they’ve always done it” can be a walking cliché, and yet that can very often be our natural inclination. Take the time necessary to build your skills and knowledge and be mindful of the ruts in your own work that need to be shifted. Remember to wield your newfound knowledge with tact and you will be indispensable when decision-points come about in your department or organization.
Being keenly aware of your own personality traits, natural strengths and weaknesses, and communication tendencies is an invaluable commodity as you interact with team members and supervisors. Many in the workplace (as well as in other relationships) are hampered by an eclipse of perception of their own strengths and shortcomings. If you do the hard work of inspecting your own personality and habits, asking for honest feedback from others and taking responsibility for your weaknesses, the self-awareness gained will be very evident to others.
In the Bible, Daniel gained influence and position by living out the godly characteristics described above. It may seem counterintuitive, but even the secular workplace values and advances people who consistently demonstrate these traits.
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”(Galatians 6:9, NLT)
About the Author
Kelley Mast is the assistant pastor of Spirit of Life Church and Director of Family Services at Compass, both in Kearney, Nebraska. Compass provides family services and programs, such as a foster care, for children and families that come from difficult backgrounds. He and Hannah, his wife, are parents to three biological children and three foster children.