I spent time last week coaching a young professional who hated his job in a small, family run organisation. In fact he hated it so badly that the things he claimed he would rather be doing instead, covered all manner of unspeakable things, too awful to mention involving finger nails, dentists and Kabul. You get the picture.
He hated the work, he hated his bosses, he hated his colleagues. He vented for a while, but when we got into specifics, mostly he hated the way he was treated and spoken to, but above all he hated the chaos and the stress. He outlined some of the issues that especially caused him grief and truthfully those practices at best would be considered bad management, and at worst, workplace bullying. Attempts to self advocate had been unceremoniously dismissed and there was no HR function.
Leopards and spots
I have worked in this type of family run, small business and know the environment well. The words leopards and spots, blood and water come to mind. It is unlikely that any employee will be able to make a dent in that can of worms and undo not just decades of working habits, but also family culture, when normal business protocols generally don’t apply. In a small organization, transferring to another department or changing job functions are not options, so for this young man there seemed to be 2 choices – stay or go.
Hating your job isn’t good. We spend 2000 hours a year in the workplace at least, so it’s hard to pitch up at the office to do something you passionately dislike. Usually if you hate your job everyone can tell and will interact accordingly. Being desperately unhappy will also affect performance and added stress leads to mistakes, creating a vicious cycle of poor interaction, escalating tension and mis- managed expectations.
There are many of reasons people end up in jobs they hate: inadequate hiring processes and poor candidate decisions to name but two. During the recession many people took jobs that weren’t ideal simply to pay their bills. Jobs and situations also change after the start date creating unanticipated circumstances.
Work on you
In any situation the only person you can change is yourself.
• Manage your emotions. Don’t resign in a fit of desperation. Pique doesn’t pay the bills, you do and they will not go away. It is also easier to get a job from a job.
• Do some inner work. Time to review your life and professional goals and complete a C.A.R.S. analysis (Challenges, Actions, Results , Skills). Make sure you know what you’re good at and what you goals are.
• Make a list of what you like about the jobs – there will always be something.
• Change your attitude. If you go into the office looking down, are detached, act dejected and withdrawn, your colleagues will feed off that and respond accordingly.
• Check your work. Stress impacts accuracy and you are more likely to make careless mistakes. Create a “To do” list every night for the following day, making sure you schedule the work you hate the most first or at your period of highest energy. Feeling that you have achieved something, even when you loathe doing it will make you feel better.
• Find a mentor - someone who can guide you. Even in a small company there has to be one person you can ask for advice.
• Silence is golden – don’t post your dislike of your work situation on Facebook or Twitter. Bosses use social media too.
• Monitor your health – stress impacts everyone in different ways. Exercise, see friends, eat healthily, have enough sleep and make time for you. If you find you are struggling with anything seek professional help.
• Start your job search discreetly and reach into your network. Let search and recruitment contacts know that you are open for a move.
• Prepare your interview story. Don’t bad mouth your company. A skilled interviewer will be able to interpret what you don’t say if you focus on your future requirements.
• Resign correctly – give the appropriate amount of notice and leave your desk and workload in mint handover condition.
• Leave graciously – you may not realise it yet but you have had a substantial learning experience and developed many key skills: resilience, diligence, commitment, focus. If your colleagues behave badly you will always know that you did the right thing.
But above all , you will make better choices next time!