Now that you’re grown up, aren’t you glad you don’t have to worry about going back to school at the end of summer? Or does it feel like you never left school?
If you’re employed, your workplace may seem a lot like high school. Or it may be more like summer camp, hanging out with your family, taking a great vacation, or even being in prison. See if any of the following types of workplaces sound like yours:
In this workplace it’s apparent who’s in the popular group. These employees hang out together, help each other out, and exclude the less popular “kids.” While members of the social club may wander around trying to keep up morale, other employees ignore the extracurricular activities so they can focus on doing good work or rebel by avoiding work.
Of course, it’s not just students who make up this workplace. The boss is like the principal, with supervisors like teachers. Those who are tough but fair earn respect, while others have trouble getting their charges to do what they want.
These types of workplaces were particularly popular in the 1990s, and a few still exist today. Sure, it’s technically a place of “work,” but the bosses act like camp counselors trying to make sure that everyone is having fun. Their idea of fun may include foosball tables, bringing your dog to work, everyone going out together for pizza after a game of softball (or even an 85 foot spiral slide like one office in England).
As much fun as this type of workplace can be for those “campers” who enjoy the activities and don’t feel they’re being forced to participate, it can be torture for those who would rather just curl up with a good book or focus on their work.
It’s pretty easy to see who plays the role of mom or dad in the family workplace. It’s the person at the top. There may be a rarely seen owner who plays the part of the absentee parent, or an overly-involved parental manager who micro-manages every stage of a project. Supervisors may be parental in positive or negative ways, nurturing workers or scolding them.
Meanwhile, employees take on the roles of the family’s kids, playing together nicely at times but more often competing with each other for attention and approval. Some workplaces also have a “family pet” — a lovable employee who may not contribute much except being someone others enjoy having around.
Just as there are different types of prisons, there are different types of prison-like workplaces.
If yours is minimum-security, you may have a few freedoms on the job, but it’s still a place that you want to get away from. If it’s maximum-security, you may feel like you are doing “hard time.” The warden and prison guards (boss and supervisors) are tough or even downright scary.
You may spend your time commiserating with the other “inmates” or belong to an informal office gang, while keeping your head down and doing your best to avoid trouble. You may miss your days of freedom and fear you’ll never get out until retirement.
If your workplace isn’t the type of “institution” you want to be in, why not consider a “vacation”?
Although no vacation — or workplace — is perfect, some come pretty close. Under the guidance of a capable “ship’s captain,” you know you are moving forward on schedule. While the day to day activities are pleasant, a new assignment can be like visiting an exotic destination.
There may be some bumps along the way, and potential dangers, but overall it’s an enjoyable ride. You have new experiences, friendly encounters with other people, and at the end of the day feel you have achieved something worthwhile.
Quiz: What’s Your Workplace Type?
1. A word that describes your workplace is:
2. Your boss is most like:
(a) A high school teacher
(b) A camp counselor
(c) Your mom or dad
(d) A prison guard
(e) A ship’s captain
3. Knowing what you know now, if you were offered a job at your workplace today you would tell your friends:
(a) I’m taking it, but only because I have to.
(b) It’s okay on a short-term basis, but I’ll probably get tired of it after a while.
(c) I think the people may drive me crazy, but I’ll learn to love them.
(d) I don’t want to do it. I hope I don’t have to.
(e) I can hardly wait to get started!
If you chose:
- mostly As, your workplace is most like a high school;
- mostly Bs, your workplace is most like a summer camp;
- mostly Cs, your workplace is most like a family;
- mostly Ds, your workplace is most like a prison;
- mostly Es, your workplace is most like a cruise ship.