Yesterday’s grouchy post didn’t mention this, so I’ll make the point here. I recognize that I am one of the lucky ones, to work in an environment with more job security than many other people have. This does not mean I won’t or can’t lose my job, especially as the pandemic’s impact on higher education continues to grow. But there is more security in my current position than many other people have, that’s for sure.
Even so, however, I am exhausted and discouraged. So are most of the people I work with. The management team where I work recently came up with a draft list of goals for this coming year and earlier this week, we presented them for input to the rest of our organization. I then actively sought out individual feedback from everyone in my group. The answers I got were not necessarily unexpected, but the tone, strength, and consistency of what I heard was surprising. People told me in no uncertain terms that they are exhausted, too, and that the draft goals for this coming year are too much. In fact, they said that hearing the draft goals added to their sense of overall discouragement.
That is pretty strong stuff.
I shared that message with other members of the management team. Frankly, I completely agree with feedback from people in my group, and have consistently pleaded with others on the management team to pare down goals to the bare minimum given what we are currently experiencing and what is already on our collective plates. The reaction was decidedly mixed, and longstanding elements of organizational weirdness were quickly put on full display. It was a difficult conversation, and no firm conclusions were made to get rid of any goals altogether, although we talked about ways to pare down some of them. One management team member made it personal by saying they felt betrayed by this negative goal feedback from my group, a highly provocative statement that illustrates the level of negative emotion on display.
A significant component to the collective exhaustion we feel, though, is due to continually having to navigate organizational weirdness like what was shown in our management team meeting. In other words, this negative situation is not new; it’s existed for many years and has not been effectively dealt with yet. Throw in so many additional uncertainties related to the pandemic, including whether or not we will have to cut positions and concern over personal health and safety, and a difficult environment becomes only more so.
We all (including myself) fall short, make mistakes, and intentionally or unintentionally offend or hurt one another. In a Christian working context, though, it somehow seems that much more difficult to navigate such things. I’ve never worked in a place where the need to give grace on a daily basis is so great, and this comes from the perspective of having spent the vast majority of my 30+ year career working in non-Christian environments. That’s a sad state of affairs.
Again, no wonder I am exhausted, and so are the people I work with on a daily basis.