By the time you are reading this those interested and who follow our government’s activities will have seen or at least heard about the president’s state of the Union address and the commentary from the
‘other side’ of the political spectrum. It let’s us in on an assessment of where we are and where we are headed as a country. And although we have a say via the ballot box every couple of years we must entrust where we are and where we are headed to those elected officials empowered to ‘run’ the business of governing this country.
That’s the USA. Yet what I became curious about is the value of assessing our own personal state of the union as it relates to us and, in particular, the jobs we have along with the work entrusted to and expected of us. It may not surprise many to realize that there are a significant number of people who go to work every Monday through Friday and simply fail to find a lot of pleasure in what they do. In fact, in coaching people with management or supervisory positions, it does surprise me, at least, to find so many who will candidly express their unhappiness with the likes of their work, the company and/or their co-workers. When asked why they seem so accepting of this state for themselves the responses I get are primarily these:
- It is the money that gives me the life I want to live and that is the reason and necessity of why I work. Whether I like my job or not isn’t that important if it affords me to have the pleasures that I want to have.
- There is nothing very exciting about the field I’m in and the nature of the work I do and therefore, I don’t expect it to be pleasurable or exciting. I knew what I was getting into when I picked this field and I’m good with that.
- Where is it written that this thing called work is supposed to be fun? I work to earn the money that will enable me to have fun. Work is just that … work.
I’m not sure about you, however, when I hear these things my initial reaction is one of sadness and puzzlement. The sadness comes from believing that anyone is willing to settle for spending a third to a half of their waking hours doing something from which they get no direct pleasure or any real satisfaction. There is little doubt that if this is one’s view of their work hours their productivity, energy and enthusiasm are tremendously impacted … found at the lower end of the spectrum.
The puzzlement is derived from wondering why anyone would be willing to devote so much time working in an environment or doing a type of work that carries with it such negativity … almost as if they are resigned to this being their lot in life and not being deserving of anything better. The puzzle only becomes larger when one considers how today, with such a low rate of unemployment, chances are very good that another job is a good likelihood for those who are unhappy and unsatisfied with their current position.
To the extent I am successful in helping clients determine how they might turn their work and their job into a positive, becoming curious about it becomes step # 1 in enabling them to transform their outlook as related to the way they view these hours that make up such a large portion of their lives. Daniel Bortz as a contributor to Monster, the job search website, identified five things that one needs to have in order to be happy at work both in terms of what they do and where they do it as follows:
- You need to feel accomplished
It is important that you know that what you are doing has a positive impact … on the project, department and/or company. If this isn’t clear then you must have conversations with those to whom you report to get that clarity and confirmation of the value of what you are doing.Ongoing check-ins is a way of maintaining this awareness.
- You need positive reinforcement
Expressed appreciation for the work one does and the contribution to the overall success it makes isfuel to creating an ongoing desire to put forth the continual effort to do the very best one can. From some bosses this is free-flowing. From others it is not which simply means that it is dependent on us to go after it. Regardless, don’t deny the need for fuel and risk trying to run on empty.
- You need to like your co-workers
Some might ask why this is important? I go to work and do my job and that’s what’s important isn’t it? The answer is sure, however, having good relationships with co-workers has shown to increase the likelihood of one being happy on and with their job by 2.5 times. Thus making the effort to create bonds with some co-workers by getting to know them and their interests inside and outside of the workplace has a real payoff in terms of the impact it has on your own satisfaction.
- You need some level of autonomy
Knowing that you have some ability to make decisions as related to your particular work is proven to improve one’s happiness and enthusiasm for the job. Given the empowerment you have to do so allows you to feel the responsibility and ability to steer your own ship. Although this is not the norm in many work environments, to the extent one is determined to change their interpretation of ‘the job’ they can and should ask for this.
- You need to be part of something that makes you proud
Feeling a sense of pride at various levels … the specific job you are working on … the overall organization and its’ culture … the importance of the work … these can all individually and collectively provide you with chest-thumping celebration. It makes you want to put out greater effort for the greater good.
Bortz concludes by saying that “Your job is so much more than a paycheck; it’s a place you go to improve your skill set, contribute to the greater good, and collaborate with other awesome people. If you get a sinking feeling whenever you think of your job, listen to your gut—it’s telling you something important that you should pay attention to.
So again I ask … What is the state of YOUR union with your job? I encourage all to give it the litmus test
and rather than settling because you lower your expectations of what a job should be and provide, change it either because you can successfully do so where you currently work or … go in search of a different organization wherein you can actually value getting to go to work every day and, by the way, earn the money that gives you the life you want to have.