Your Work Matters: When Others Don’t Appreciate
I have a job that sounds exciting—I lead the social media team for a large publicly held company.
Every day is different. No day is like any other.
I can plan my day—schedule meetings, carve out chunks of time to get work done, make phone calls, set aside some time for professional development (when it’s social media, you have to keep up)—and about 10 minutes after arriving at my office, I’ll determine whether or not my plans will hold.
They usually won’t.
One recent Wednesday was fairly typical. On the schedule were several meetings, including two with outside agencies assisting with specific projects, one with the company attorney, and another with a visitor from Africa; a special group lunch featuring an outside speaker; and a 90-minute block of time set aside to review a post for the company blog and review online social media activity associated with our company.
I arrived at 8:30. By 8:40, I could see my plans for the day were out the window. Two online crises were brewing. Within an hour, two more had arisen. By the time I made it to the luncheon with the speaker (I did go to the lunch), six online crises were unfolding and growing simultaneously.
I transitioned to triage mode, communicating one crisis to those who need to know about it and respond. I contacted the team member who monitors what happens online and told her to watch it closely, and, “Give us an update in an hour.” As the day went on, I made the same request six times. I checked with the people responsible to respond, often entering extended discussions about why a response is needed. Sometimes I have to figure it out on my own and then just act, because we’ve run out of time to bring people together to achieve consensus. Often I have to talk to an attorney, to make sure the response is okay. That day, I did both of those things—I figured it out for myself and ran it past the attorney.
If I’m not dealing with crises, I’m probably anticipating them and heading them off before they become crises—a more time-consuming approach, because I have to add the step of convincing people the crisis is coming.
People in this kind of work will tell you that a person—any person—should hold this kind of job no longer than a year, 18 months at the most. Longer than that, the stress is too much to handle.
I’ve been doing it three-and-a-half years.
A job like this can quickly become draining and exhausting. People who don’t understand the digital world don’t appreciate the work, thinking it’s unnecessary. They tend to discount and sometimes disparage what my team and I do.
But here’s what I know, even when so many others don’t.
My work matters. It’s important.
The work matters to the company.
Our team has predicted virtually every major crisis that’s hit the company in the last three years. Sometimes we were ignored; sometimes our warnings were heeded. Regardless, we turned out to be right 100 percent of the time, because we learned how to read social media. We can call a crisis, and we can call a non-crisis.
The work matters to the team.
Everyone likes to say they work with a great team. I do too. But it’s more than skills, experience, knowledge, and expertise that make a team great—it’s the people themselves. I like the people I work with. We share information freely. We generally ignore hierarchy among ourselves. Sometimes the 26-year-old millennial leads the project, and sometimes the Baby Boomer social media guy heads it up.
The work matters to me.
I care about what I do. It pains me to see insight and exceptional work disparaged, but it pains me even more to not do a job as well as I know I can do. Work, and this work, is an intrinsic part of who I am.
The work matters to God.
Who I am also means I understand this work matters to God. I’ve never been organizationally directed or oriented. I would have crashed and burned a long time ago without realizing that what I do each day is playing out my faith and my humanity.
Do it long enough, and exciting, adrenaline-pumping work becomes exhausting. The importance doesn’t lie in the excitement or the adrenaline. The importance lies in the work’s intrinsic value, because it is being done by people who have intrinsic worth. The work matters to God because the people matter to God.
The work doesn’t have greater value because each day requires continual responses to minute-by-minute unfolding crises. My work doesn’t matter more because it seems important or exciting to be representing a big corporation’s social media presence. My work matters because … work matters—to the company, the team, to me, and to God.
Your Work Matters
What if your work is drudgery? What if getting out of bed to head to your daily grind is just about to push you over the edge? What if Monday morning always arrives with a feeling a dread? We all want to feel as of the work we're doing is meaningful. We want it to fill us up, and we pray it makes a difference in the world for good. But what if you're stuck in a job that has nothing to do with what you feel called to do? What if you feel trapped and discouraged? In this series, Your Work Matters, we'll be asking some of these same questions. We don't promise to have all (or any) of the answers, but we encourage you to wrestle with these tough and painful issues, right along with us. Tell us your story. Offer your wisdom, and come away encouraged that you are not alone, and that God sees you, right where you are.
Featured image by Benjamin Watson. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.