Jan 17 2019

How to Fight Loneliness at the Top

General

One of the common, and often unexpected, consequences of climbing the ranks at work? Loneliness.

When you’re a regular rank-and-file employee, you may have less power, but you also have more peers. Your boss might drive you nuts, but you have team members to commiserate with. Your role might not be glamorous, but neither are those of your coworkers’.

As you’re promoted, these things start to change. In return for bigger responsibilities, you have fewer people at your level. In return for leading a team, you lose the ability to show frustration or fatigue. A leader needs to steer the ship—and that can be pretty isolating.

Luckily, there are ways to combat your loneliness as a leader.

1) Find a network

In the past, you could use your coworkers to gripe to when a project was difficult or a boss was unreasonable. But, complaining to your reports will tell them it’s okay to gripe and make them lose faith in the mission. It’ll also make it harder to keep their respect.

What’s the answer? You don’t have to stop revealing any negative emotions as you’re human, after all. However, you do have to find new confidantes. Look to your peers in other areas of the organization; for instance, if you work in Sales, you might go to coffee with someone in a parallel role, but working in Operations or Recruiting. Not only can these coworkers give you insight into different departments, but you can also speak honestly with each other without worrying about hurting morale or your authority.

If your company isn’t big enough for that, search for peers in different organizations. You can reach out to strangers directly via LinkedIn or email, or join a networking group on Meetup or another community platform. It might take a few tries to find people you connect with, trust, and enjoy talking to, but once you do, you’ll have a great resource for support and advice.

2) Get a mentor

After you’ve found a network of peers, you should seek out a mentor.

Peers can empathize with you and tell you how they’re navigating a similar situation. Mentors, on the other hand, can offer a different perspective and share how they’ve navigated several similar situations — what worked, what failed, and what they learned.

Mentors are defined by having greater experience (although they’re not necessarily older). For instance, if you just switched industries, you might look for a mentor who’s been in your new industry for 10 years. Or, perhaps you were just promoted to technical lead. A great mentor would be someone who has many years of working in this role under his or her belt.

3) Seek connections with your reports

Even though you can’t be friends with your reports, you can still connect with them. Consider connecting over TV shows you are currently binge-watching. Sharing book recommendations with your reports is another way to connect if you enjoy reading.

These rapport-building points are hyper-important for getting to know your direct reports as people, ensuring a productive and happy team, and making you feel less lonely.

About Signature Consultants, LLC

Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the ninth consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is named the 15th Largest IT Staffing Firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 27 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit www.sigconsult.com.

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