My siblings are starting to apply for jobs (yey!) and one thing they ask is “Kuya, patulong gmawa ng CV” (help me create a CV”). That led me to read through a couple of job descriptions, since it’s been a while since I created one for myself, just to see what employers see as ideal candidates for certain positions, and I was not totally surprised to see that majority include “ability to work independently”. That caught my attention, because believe it or not, that is one of the most misunderstood qualifications in today’s workplaces.
The Value of Independence in the Workplace
Many types of jobs today include independence as a qualification to promote productivity over minimal supervision, efficiency, and focus, especially for jobs that require critical thinking and keen attention to details. This frequently goes with self-discipline, effective time management, and organization skills. People who has these traits tend to work fast and able to complete tasks and projects with accuracy — how great is that? If there are other things that I would want to emphasize on this, I like the idea how independent people develops a great sense of responsibility and accountability in the long run, especially when they value the results produced by their own efforts. It produces an extraordinary amount of fulfillment and a good sense of victory.
How is it Misunderstood?
Working independently does not mean you don’t get to work with other people at all. I hate it when people use this qualification as an excuse whenever they get into conflicts with workmates — or even with their own bosses. People who take the word “independence” too literally tend to see collaboration and teamwork as distractions or in worst cases, suppression and micro-management. When conversations that encourage independent people to work with others, or gather input from others had to happen, some see it as a statement that urges them to work under compulsion.
I acknowledge the fact that not everyone has extroverted personalities which easily enables them to work with different people. I’ve heard people say that for independent people like them, working with groups is more challenging than what the job actually requires. It may be true in some sense, but looking at the bigger picture and the long term impact of collaborations might help us understand its essence in a healthy work environment.
Most companies nowadays strive really hard to increase workplace diversity because of studies claiming that diversity is an economic asset, as well as a social benefit that promotes creativity, innovation, and a wide range of expertise. Mentoring and learning from others are highly valued nowadays especially in global companies. With this approach in managing the business, soft skills or people skills such as teamwork, empathy, and collaboration help provide some ease in facing the challenges that a diverse work culture might bring and relieves a lot of stress on employees. Having the proper mindset towards this will promote interpersonal growth and a higher level of maturity that does not only work on professional relationships but also on personal ones.
How do you adapt to this work culture? What are the challenges that you usually encounter when it comes to dealing with others while giving so much value on your independence?