Having a Tough Time at Work?

It doesn't have to last.


There are a number of reasons that work could feel like an uphill battle: it may be that the position isn’t fulfilling, or that you’ve failed at something and you’re looking for security. Sometimes managers don’t let us feel heard or give us a chance to contribute. All of these problems compound to a bit of a rough trot at work but it doesn’t have to last forever, in fact, there are a number of steps you can take to get back on track.

Here, Helen Souness, the Managing Director at Etsy, outlines her personal strategies for getting back on your feet (emotionally) after a tough time at work:


Embrace new learnings

I really do look back and see that some of the worst periods of my career were also the most formative. Those were the most intense learning periods I’ve ever experienced – I learned what I wanted, what I didn’t, and what I needed to change. The most difficult managers you ever have are the people who can teach you the most about the manager you want to become; the person who micromanages you will be the person who teaches you how to empower your team in the future.

Don’t rise to internal competition

For me, it was a company that was aggressively competitive internally that taught me the most about how I want to work. From that, I have tried to create an everyday culture that is absolutely high-performing – we set ourselves crazy high goals in everything we do and everyone works very hard to achieve them – but that recognises those achievements from the perspective of an entire team rather than an individual. We try to create a culture that is deeply collaborative.

Focus on the bigger mission

I’m not saying I nail it all the time, but remaining focused on the mission is certainly what I seek to do. That’s because I’ve been there when it goes wrong and the focus is internal and competitive. That’s part of running a mission-business: you try to focus externally on the mission and not internally on the politics to move the people, the business and yourself forward.

Build trust

Trust can be a powerful force in creating collaborative and powerful performance cultures. It’s vital when you’re seeking to create an environment that’s empowering and enjoyable to work in – one that’s safe, patient, appropriately risk-taking and forgiving of faults and the learnings that come from them.

Be kind

I believe our most undervalued asset is kindness – in work or at home. I still remember the father of the groom’s advice at my friend’s wedding. He said, “Whatever you do in your marriage, be kind to one another.” I think that’s sound advice for building any successful relationship, be it personal or professional. But it’s a trait that is often undervalued in the workplace. Traditionally, corporate cultures developed around competitiveness and individualism don’t necessarily recognise, reward or foster kindness – quite the opposite, in fact. I think it’s time leaders everywhere did something to change that.


Republished with permission from independent publishing platform and brand storytelling agency, Thread Publishing; telling the stories that bring humanity back into business. To discover more profiles of people and organisations that inspire, or learn how your business can speak from the heart, visit threadpublishing.com

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