My uncle, who also worked as a public servant for the NSW government at the same time I did, has a slogan which he repeated ironically everytime we discussed our work:
“Working to make the state of New South Wales a better place for the people of New South Wales”
Now, irony and self-deprecation is appreciated in our family, so it was always delivered in a slightly sarcastic, political patter, so you didn’t take it too seriously. But now I wonder.
My work ethic has substantially dropped off. I’m just not really interested in what I am doing at my current position, and every so often I wonder why, as this place does have the potential to be fantastic, so there must be something specific.
I know it is affected by the temporary contract I’m on. I find it difficult to engage with a job that I know is not permanent, and my managers aren’t particularly interested in my work and career progression, as long as I am churning out the work they request from me. I am someone who desperately needs to feel connected to her work and feel that it is worthwhile, and feel that can build some prestige and respect into it, otherwise I am just not interested. This is the current situation.
It could be the current management style as well. It’s a rather ad hoc, urgency-based, politically driven, career-building management structure, rather than the supportive feedback types I’m used to and thrive in. I don’t mind politics, it’s a necessary part of any organisation, especially the public service. I do mind when it’s the overwhelming reason for prioritizing my workload.
Then today I realised what the key ingredient is. There’s no buzz of pride and energy about the place. At least not on my team. No-one’s running around saying how we are making a real difference to the residents of this Borough, and that while the work is tough, it’s worth doing. It’s all very much “oh well, another day, time to put up with what we have to do”. I know this is an English trait , but even so, why put yourself through the pain of the public service if you’re not going to reap the benefits of pride in your organisation, a sense of mission above and beyond working to pay the bills?
I will admit to having a rather strange attitude to work (although not unique, The Simple Dollar recently blogged on What is a Good Job? All very good points). My recruitment consultant specifically remarked on my (to him) blase attitude to job hunting, specifically that I waited for him to chase me. Which he did rather well, this job essentially landed in my lap. However, as I see it employment is a two-way street. I do excellent work for my employer, and in return I get to spend upwards of 7 hours a day in a congenial environment with like-minded people. I’m picky. I’m not interested in working at any old job, so therefore I am not driven to chase up all leads on potential employment (which is what my recruitment consultant is used to). Oh, and most of the jobs I am interested in require a 6 page application. You don’t do that in your spare time unless you are REALLY committed.
I need to work somewhere with a sense of purpose, a sense of service, and a sense of camraderie. The belief, no matter how understated, that we are all working to make the structure that we can affect a better structure for the people that are affected by it -Amend to be appropriate to what you do. Otherwise I’d honestly rather find some other way of using my time.
When complaining about this to a find on IM last night he asked what I was meant to be doing. My answer: “saving the world!” 🙂 While I can’t do this alone, it’s tough to feel like I’m not working on it at all.
On the plus side it seems the Universe (disclaimer: this is my whacky belief, you can have your own whacky belief, or lack of it, and I won’t think differently of you. Please extend me the same courtesy) has been listening to my concerns, or I’m finally listening to it. Whichever way, there are 3 jobs on the horizon which I’d be happy to apply for, and the DECC job is still in the wings awaiting a response. By the end of the year this might be a distant memory, and I will have been thankful for a job that let me have an income without needing to commit to it as heavily as I have in other positions.
 as stated explicitly in Watching the English, by Kate Fox. That book I was referring to in this post.
Addendum – It strikes me that this might be the equivalent of one of Havi’s itty bitty personal ads. I have been tempted to write a couple relating to houses and work. I think this format works better for me.