Your Job Needs You To Work On You
Okay, so I get it, sometimes people would rather volunteer for a long, painful dental procedure than work. Whenever I coach managers or employees, I find that the same issues arise repeatedly, and quite often, the job dissatisfaction ball is firmly in the employee’s court. That's not to say that there aren't bad managers, unhealthy work environments and impossible situations. However, the first step is to identify how the individual may be sabotaging or blocking their success, advancement, and enjoyment at work.
There must be self-awareness and personal responsibility. This self-responsibility ensures that if an employee needs to move on from their current job, they will have gained important insight into the habits and mindset that will increase their contentment, confidence and success in a new workplace.
The workplace can be a Petrie dish of unmet needs, insecurities and limitations and also of strengths, talents and skills. If you aren't happy at work, the most empowering place to look, and therefore, the first place to look is at yourself.
Here's what I have found:
Dragging Personal Stuff Into Work Skews Everything.
Are you unhappy in your life in general? Frustrated? Going through a divorce or breakup? Wish you had gone back to school or started a bakery? How much of that is affecting your motivation and engagement? Short of allowing you to open up a bakery in the staff kitchen, honestly and truly, how could your manager or co-workers possibly fix that? There should be considerations and support for life’s difficulties, as there will be rough patches but be sure that you avoid painting your entire work experience with what goes on away from the office. If you feel anxious, overwhelmed with working from home due to COVID and other peripheral issues, take a break, get support, such as coaching or counselling and take appropriate steps to deal with what you need to deal with.
Evaluate how you are feeling about yourself and your life and make the background changes necessary in order to show up engaged and ready to go.
Working On Yourself Will Greatly Improve Your Work
What the heck does that mean, you ask? Well, here it is – up your self-awareness, take full responsibility for your feelings and reactions and figure out what you do well and not so well. I had a client who was promoted to project lead. We'll call her Sara. Sara had the experience, the knowledge, and she'd asked for the opportunity, but she struggled and could not get her footing once in the position. She felt criticized by her team and unsupported by her manager. Through coaching, we discovered that Sara was feeling incompetent and frustrated in her new position, and therefore saw and “filtered” her co-worker’s responses and encouragements as criticism, and her manager’s “letting her fly” as lack of support. Her insecurities weren't allowing her to see what was really happening, communicate her fears or ask for what would be most helpful. She needed to stop pointing fingers long enough to understand what she was thinking and feeling. We needed to figure out what the real problem was! What in "the office cooler" do I mean by this?
Before the promotion, Sara felt supported, encouraged and valued, and suddenly in her new role, all these things disappeared! She discovered it was a problem for her because she felt insecure working on certain projects, so when she was expected to take the lead, she immediately listed all the ways her boss didn't support her. The same manager who just promoted her! She was seeing and experiencing things through a lens of fear and insecurity. We can get triggered by past experiences. For example: when your opinion isn't used, are you being triggered for all the times in junior high when you felt left out? Or are you afraid of failing? Are you trying so hard to do it right that you refuse to ask for support? And, of course, right now, with more people working at home, are the lines getting blurred, are you overwhelmed about COVID and struggling to find balance?
You must start with YOU. Clients often tell me that they are frustrated in their job: bored, underappreciated or overworked, but as we dig in and work on their beliefs, fears, communication skills and personal happiness, their satisfaction increases, without anything having to change at work. We find that how they are interpreting, filtering and therefore communicating and reacting, has more to do with them than their manager or co-workers. Start working on yourself and see what can happen.
"Criticism of others is futile and if you indulge in it often you should be warned that it can be fatal to your career. " ~ Dale Carnegie
Drama, Gossip and Hearsay are NEVER Effective
And only result in wasted energy. I know that there is a perceived connection and a charge that comes from complaining and judging. It's also a lot easier and more energetically addictive than being the person who communicates clearly, looks at the big picture, doesn't assume and creates solutions. We don't often see the main characters in movies using healthy communication and active listening – that rarely gets the laughs or creates dramatic tension! But, leave that to the scriptwriters and stand-up comedians. If you want increased job satisfaction, learn to rise above gossip and hearsay. Do not assume, make-up stories or perpetuate misunderstandings. Learn to clarify, simplify, ask and request. Up your communication skills and stay out of the fray. Remember that there's a human being on the other side of your words and assumptions.
Keep Up The Good Work
Your manager wants you to have job satisfaction. Great managers are advocates for employee success and engagement. Why? They're human beings, and they know you are too! They're managers because they have been employees, and they know what it's like - they've been where you are. They want you to succeed, not only for your sake but for the entire operation. If you're bringing your strengths, feeling valued and rocking your job, then everyone benefits and ultimately, the company’s mission and vision will be realized.
"If you wish to achieve worthwhile things in your personal and career life, you must become a worthwhile person in your own self-development." ~ Brian Tracy
You don't have to like everyone, agree all the time or enjoy every moment of every day at your job. As a matter of fact, if you believe that this is the way it should be, you'll most likely be disappointed. But, what if we cut each other a little slack and gave each other the benefit of the doubt? This is more essential than ever. COVID has caused everyone to navigate and respond the best they can. It's not up to anyone else to make us happy, feel fulfilled and to like or endorse everything we do all the time, and this most assuredly includes our colleagues and manager. Your well-being is not anyone else's job.
We must take ownership of our job satisfaction and ensure that we have worked out the kinks in our own thinking, approach and communication.
If you've done this and you'd still rather get a root canal, then you can move on from a place of self-awareness, not victimhood and frustration. You'll take with you a bag of tools sure to support you in finding greater job satisfaction, wherever you may land. If you find value in this blog, please forward it to a friend. Thanks for reading!