How happy are you in your job?
No job is perfect every day. Some days you dread the commute – even if you’re a 5-minute walk from work. So how do you determine whether it’s just a run of bad days or something more? Whether to pull the pin or to stay and make it work? And when is the ideal time to walk away and start something new?
I’ll get to that shortly but in order to get a good read, you need a clear head. When you’re contemplating a career change it’s rarely a good idea to quit when you’re mad.
Is emotion or energy clouding my Job Happiness?
Something just happened. Stress is high. Perhaps you’re underappreciated or embarrassed or overworked or just really angry. How will you be sure you have a clear head and be objective?
Note – skip this step at your peril!
- Do something physical to take your focus away from your mind.
- Breathe deeply and count as you do. Breathe in slowly to the count of 5, then out slowly to the count of 5 and repeat.
- Walk around the block or up and down the fire stairs. Just move with determination.
- Practice a simple meditation for a few minutes.
- If you practice yoga, practice here. A couple of small stretches can effectively unlock the tension.
- Phone a friend or mentor who you know can be objective and help you take the heat from the situation, so you can think with clarity.
- Park it. Allocate a time when you WILL come back to it and focus on the job at hand.
When is the IDEAL time to walk away?
This is really personal and there are many factors to consider. Here are some objective points though.
The GOOD reasons to leave:
- Your values no longer align with those of the organisation (not just your boss).
- The environment is unsafe for your physical or mental health. There is a time to working to change the system but compromise to safety should really be considered carefully.
- You have an external opportunity that’s guaranteed to roll your expertise to a new level. The gains might be in responsibility, breadth, exposure, association, reward or lifestyle alignment.
- Your skills have genuinely outgrown the level of challenge that exists within this organisation. This can be tricky to assess without objective feedback. Also tough to assess when you’re emotional.
The WRONG reasons to leave:
- You’re angry.
- Your boss is an idiot. This needs more airtime that one little bullet point. I’ll come back to this one in a sec…
- They don’t support their people. Businesses usually offer MUCH more than their people are aware of. A number of our team have seen many Exit Surveys where
- Nobody seems to care about your career progression. This probably won’t change in a new business: your career is your responsibility. Its up to you to move it forward.
- On the surface, this new opportunity looks pretty great. Delve further. Do your research & gauge the market.
When considering a new opportunity you’re wise to listen to your gut instinct – provided that you do lots of risk-mitigating fact checking too. Speak to some employees in the new team. Understand the pressures on the role, expectations of deliverables and get any promises IN WRITING. Especially if you’re turning down another opportunity to pursue this one. Implied future progression is not a promise.
Develop A Moving On Strategy
If you’ve decided to stay and make it work better for you, how much time will you give it? Will you still potentially be hanging in there in 2 years, with stress and resentment levels rising?
Set your strategy & give it a definitive end-date. This ‘Is It Time To Move On?’ CHECKLIST will give you a Job Happiness Score. Evaluate your score and determine whether that’s ok for you. Then set a date. What would you LIKE your happiness score to be? What strategies will you put in place to close the gaps?
Whether you love or loathe your job, there are clear things you can do to improve how well work fits you. We run an Executive Presence Boot Camp, online. Key elements of the program are Identifying your Career Joy, Confidence and Mindfulness. These are key contributors to workplace happiness too, right?
What factors could contribute to YOU being happier at work? If you were to close your eyes while I wave a magic wand to make your job your ideal… when you open your eyes, what would it look like?
What can you do to make that happen? Is it possible that some of it already is in place if you look at it differently?
Meanwhile, my Boss is Revolting…
What do you want to do about it?
I’m not the 1st to say ‘People join companies but leave managers’. Many people DO leave dodgy bosses, but are they ultimately better off? And is there an alternative that would give YOU a better outcome?
That painful individual could be gone tomorrow. There may be other options for improving your job happiness. Can you reduce your exposure to this person short –term, rather than throwing away a great opportunity because of someone else’s shortcomings.
Let’s assume that you’re clear-headed and that you’ve completed the checklist. You’ve assessed your happiness score and decided that overall you have lots to stay for. How can you make great progress despite a dodgy boss? No single strategy is a guarantee.
You could be crushed under a poor manager OR
you could come out the other side stronger and with a great story to tell.
The individuals we see emerge with a great yarn have all implemented a few of these tactics:
- Be visible with the influencers of the business. It’s something you should be aiming for anyway, but when your boss is unsupportive or underperforming it’s critical that others with influence know what you’re made of.
- Put your hand up to be involved in other projects. This is about raising your profile, increasing your skill set and building your network.
- Be great at what you do.
- Be clear about your non-negotiables. You saw the checklist, right? The first step in our Boot Camp is getting clear on what you value. Really value. If you have 100 wishy-washy demands you’ll get pushback on all of them. If there are 2 or 3 key things you hold as sacrosanct, then others will be much less likely to have you push those particular boundaries.
- Get great at negotiation. You’ll find some tips in this article on Salary Negotiation.
- Practice “Yes if..” instead of No. Nicola Mills, CEO of Pacific Retail Management is the creator of this gem. When you’re asked to do something you don’t like, pause a moment to consider what clause would make that ok. You want me to meet this close to unachievable deadline in the next 5 days with no additional resources? It’s going to require my team to work till midnight or beyond multiple times. Pause to consider. Yes if you pay for lunch for my team to say thank you. And we’re each given a half – day of paid leave to be taken in the next month at my discretion.
So what’s YOUR Job Happiness Score? And what will you do about it? Remember about that grass – it’s not always greener on the other side. So what strategies will you use to either make changes or to feel better about what is?
Cath is MD of Gender Gap Gone, a technological disruptor focused on Women’s Leadership. Cath was the driving force behind assembling the GGG team of coaches, consultants and experts and also created the online Career Empowerment Program. Cath’s mantra is ‘tiny changes applied consistently have enormous impact’ and her passion is empowering women to live the careers of their choosing.