Well its been a while since I last posted and a lot has changed.
I finally did it, I finally broke out of the consulting world and became a corporate environment, health and safety (EHS) worker.
I’ve been working with the current company for several months now. A higher end manufacturing facility with strong concerns for maintaining environmental conditions in the production areas and maintaining regulatory compliance. Sounds like a perfect place for some one working in EHS.
My reactions are mixed.
While I’m glad to not be counting how I spend every minute of every day, and I’m glad I’m not practically living at the airport, having a the same job with the same group of people at the same place every day brings up its own challenges.
A huge challenge has been the politics. Every department has its own goals and its own history with my group. Normally I would find out where my supervisor stands on the issues and work within that framework to accomplish the goals of my group, but where my supervisor stands and what are the priorities of my group are constantly moving targets often influenced by unseen politics behind the scenes. I can hardly believe I am the first person to deal with a situation like this only to feel exhausted by the process of trying to do what I believe my job is while navigating often sensitive situations.
The other big challenge is eye opening to what kind of person I am.
In consulting I had to be sociable and sensitive to my clients, but those interactions were generally bite sized and within the framework of a limited scope of work. My current work environment is much more focused on building relationships with people where there are numerous areas of contention to work around and through.
I always knew I enjoyed the technical aspects of my work more, but I never realized how truly draining it could be to have to play the social game constantly.
It seems that on the surface that while my technical competency is still valued, a much greater emphasis is placed on my ability to be “friends” with everyone. This is hard for me because I value sincerity in that I only really become friends with people I actually like and only after a substantial period of interaction where we can really understand where the other one is coming from. Having to be buddies with everyone instead of maintaining mutual professional dialogues is not something natural to me.
This is not to say that I am some how anti-social. It just feels false to me to act like everyone I work with is someone I would spend my time with outside of work.
I can remember numerous situations in my past work experience where I would have to place my life and well being in the hands of someone else and they in mine while we as people had only a minimal personal relationship. We were both professionals in what we did and took it to heart that our jobs were not to be buddies but to take responsibility for our work and those impacted by it. There was a basic understanding there, an understanding that I felt was more honest. At least more honest than pretending we were less concerned with our work than chit chatting about what we do for fun.
While I’m still glad for the change and am still feeling it out, I do wonder if maybe I’m too private of a person and respecting of professional distance to be the best fit for this new environment.