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  • Writer's pictureRhonda Spencer

What to Do When You Feel Like Your Work Does Not Matter.

Do you ever think that your efforts are in vain? Do you feel like no one notices your work on whatever task or objective you try to meet? Are you the tree fluffer? As Christmas approaches, we put up trees in offices and homes. We need a tree fluffer. Can you think of a more thankless job? The one thing about the tree fluffer is that that work makes a difference; it's the foundation of how good or bad the tree looks. Tree fluffer spends hours pulling branches, limbs, and closing holes for the overall look of this tree that may last a month or a month and a half at most. Tree fluffers are foundational to the beauty of the tree. You could say that they are vital to the beauty of the tree.

Do you feel underappreciated at work? Do you feel your work is foundational, and you are getting overlooked like the tree fluffer? What are your options for your future? Here is the key: while you are in a foundational position, and you feel that you are not appreciated, know that your work is foundational to whatever your company produces, sells, etc. The key is to continue to do your work with due diligence; this is not the time to get mad or do subpar work but to give it all. As you are working, make plans, write down dreams, and set goals to make those dreams a reality.

Ask yourself key questions that will help you reach the next level. As you ask yourself questions, you may realize the answer might require more education or more years of service. Learn all you can, reach out, and look for a mentor to guide you. Understand expectations of you, meet and exceed them. Give no cause for anyone to have a problem with your work. Seek to build professional relationships and keep doing that foundational work to the best of your ability.

Three key foundational insights to learn as you work and feel underappreciated.

The first is consistency. Consistency is hard to work towards goals when you believe that no one knows who you are or cares if you exist. It is a challenging task. Being consistent in giving good quality work is difficult, but this consistently leads to discipline.

Discipline is your second foundational skill. This discipline keeps you on task, motivated, and moving forward. Discipline allows you to be proactive and not reactive, which gives you a leg up over most of your peers and colleagues. Discipline is not for the weak; it takes courage and strength to stay on course and be consistent and disciplined. It is these two characteristics that give you the insight into yourself.

The third foundational key is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is uncomfortable to develop at times; it makes you dig deep to understand who you are, how you respond, and why you do what you do. It also gives you the insight to recognize behavior patterns that could harm your career and family life. Emotional intelligence is the awareness to understand your own emotions and the feelings of others. For leaders, it goes beyond this to know how to inspire others to meet challenges, overcome obstacles, and maintain a sense of respect for everyone you work with, leaving them with a sense of value. Employees who do not feel valued at work have a higher tendency to leave, and let us face reality: they may be among your best tree fluffers in the company.

Focusing on four components of emotional intelligence:

1.    Self-awareness

2.    Self-management

3.    Social awareness

4.    Relationship management

There are a variety of ways that you can develop these four areas. The most crucial of those ways is to examine your behavior as if you do not know the person. Objectively look at how your manager or coworker has given a response and evaluate the outcome.

1.    Did it go well, or was it received negatively?

2.    How effectively did you communicate? Did your idea get received correctly? Or was something lost in translation?

3.    After the communication, how is the relationship now? Did your goal get accomplished, or if family or friends are you feeling more connected?

4.    Ask yourself where it is that I can improve.

Everyone struggles, not just the tree fluffers. At various times, everyone feels underappreciated, overworked, and let down. The question is, whether you are at the bottom of the organization or at the top, where do you stand with your consistency, discipline, and emotional intelligence?

For the tree fluffers out there, stay on task; your work matters. When you are discouraged, examine your life, appreciate your strengths, seek a mentor, and develop a plan to move up in the corporation or give yourself the skills you need to move on to the next in a high position. That only happens with consistency, discipline, and emotional intelligence. Through these three critical foundational skills, you can set goals, then meet those goals and change your life.

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