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I Like my Beat Fast and my Bass Down Low

March 15, 2011

I’ve worked in a variety of organizational environments in my HR career. Turbo-charged companies where the world changed seemingly every hour and decisions needed to be made right now (!) because time was a precious commodity and there was no need to linger.  We practically had NOW NOW NOW tattooed on our foreheads.  And I’ve worked for companies where the pace was, well, just a bit more sedate.  Decisions could be (safely) prolonged and there was really never much of a rush.  Thoughtful deliberations ruled the day.  Deadlines were always met, but no one ever seemed in too much of a hurry to get to the finish line.

And quite frankly, both environments worked.  The companies were successful, revenue climbed, expenses went down, and employees were productive and happy.

But I got to thinking about this over the last few days because someone I know is making the transition from a “slow” environment to an extremely ‘fast” environment.  She is well aware (I hope) of what she’s getting into; we spent some time talking about it.  She has, as far as I can tell, asked herself some important questions:

  • Can she remain efficient while handling multiple tasks – and ALL of them with TOP/URGENT/MUST-BE-DONE-NOW priority?
  • Will she be able to adjust her personal rhythm for a workday that no longer provides time for stopping, talking, and even ‘thinking’?  Can she realize that production/task accomplishment is rule #1 and there is no time for slow and methodical steps?  The end result must still be correct, but speed is priority #1.
  • Will she be able to adjust to “I need it now” requests/demands from her internal and external customers?  Because they’re also accustomed to the need-it-now pace.
  • How will her family adjust when she comes home, perhaps a bit more frazzled, after longer days with looming deadlines?

All things to think about.  People have differing styles.  When someone is switching companies, they need to realize that while job content and responsibilities may be similar, the tempo of work may be vastly different.  A frenzied atmosphere may be welcome, and even necessary, for Person A…and exasperating to Person B.  Some people will be energized by the above scenarios, while others will get burnt out.

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On the flip side, someone accustomed to a pace where they’re on-the-go every minute will be similarly challenged, and perhaps frustrated, by moving to a much more tranquil environment.  Slow and steady may still win the race, but a mellow work environment may seem too laid back to a person who thrives on quick decisions and a time-is-of-the-essence mantra.  The person with a desire to move rapidly and accomplish tasks quickly, may find it infuriating to work in a setting where she perceives a lack of urgency.

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Which environment do I prefer?  I guess I prefer a mash-up.  Like a good dance track or something – give me a fast beat and some low bass.

What about you?  Ever experienced difficulties or dissatisfaction based on the pace/speed of a work environment?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2011 10:25 am

    I have had to think about this a lot during my job search. I come from a call center environment where every day was go, go, go (as my 13 month old says) and you never knew what you would be doing in the next five minutes. As I’ve searched for jobs I have come across roles that would be a good fit, but the environment would be an adjustment I could not make. I like the craziness of never knowing what a new day will bring. I like not being able to have a schedule or at least keep to one. I like a pace that keeps me out of breath. Sounds insane to some, but it works for me. Great post and question for those seeking new opportunities!

  2. March 15, 2011 3:28 pm

    Hi Robin

    Really good post. I have almost always worked in dynamic, fast changing environments and much as it can feel a little relentless at times, I would find it really difficult to work in a slow-paced, relaxed environment which didn’t really change from one month to the next.

    It’s funny what you get used to isn’t it??!!

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