Fallen out of love? Wondering if it’s time for a change?
No, I’m not talking about romantic relationships, but your relationship with your job or organisation.
At one time, one of the most enduring relationships in people’s lives used to be with the company they worked for.
Nowadays, that’s not the way we work. A recent survey from the US Bureau of Labor Statsistics suggested the average worker stays put 4.4 years, but the expected tenure of Millenials, (born 1977-1997) is about half that.
This constant change in the job market is all very well, but it takes time and energy to search for, join, and settle into a new job or organisation. And sometimes it’s not possible to move jobs, whether that’s for financial, logistical or career reasons. I’ve had to motivate and coach people through this situation a number of times, and even through my own odd dip in motivation.
This post, then, shares 9 helpful tips to re-kindle the romance with your current job, so you can love the job you have.
1. Remind yourself of your job description.
After a few months in a role, it’s common for us to add other non-core tasks to our workload, until several years down the line we can barely remember what we were hired to do. Do you have access to an up-to-date job description? Do you and your line manager ever look at it? Start by looking at what you should be doing…
2. …and then review what you actually do.
Do a gap analysis objectively between what you are paid for, and what you are actually doing. Understand where these extra tasks came from if you can, and consider their importance to the business as a whole and to your own career. Why are you doing these new activities? Do they help you? Do you enjoy them? Are they the fun – but unnecessary – bit of your job? Are you picking up after a less effective colleague? Do they mean you are working longer hours? Ask yourself some tough questions, as sometimes we are our own worst enemy in terms of taking on new activities without time or money as a reward.
3. Understand specifically what it is you like and dislike.
Sometimes the reason we’ve taken on new tasks is because we like them better than those involved in our current role. These tasks can be enriching, but can also cause stress due to overwork, which might mean you don’t enjoy them anyway! Be clear and specific about what it is you like and don’t like about the role, and then think more widely and consider the culture, people and environment, and any other motivating factors. This can help you be realistic about the pros and cons involved in staying in your current role, and can remind you of all the good things about your job. Everything’s a trade, so sometimes it’s worth working a few extra hours each week to have a short commute and work with people who really inspire you.
4. Review your strengths and development areas.
There’s a strong correlation between what we enjoy and what we’re good at, so developing your weaknesses into strengths can help you increase enjoyment of some tasks which are currently a drain. Perhaps you dread working with spreadsheets when it’s time for this each week – maybe you could do a short Excel course, or even some self-study with something like ‘Excel for Dummies’? This review can also help you to think about any unused strengths – what else are you good at that’s not currently being used in your role? What skills could you offer the team that you would enjoy doing more?
5. Think about other opportunities.
Once you’ve identified an unused strength, consider where you might be able to contribute based on this. Perhaps the team would benefit generally from some coaching on a particular IT system, which you have a real knack for. Maybe you’re a naturally positive and optimistic person and could help to liven up team meetings. Perhaps your natural organisational skills could be used to plan the staff roster, a task your boss hates. Look for opportunities where you can play a different role using skills you enjoy.
6. Have an open discussion with your manager.
If you’ve really fallen out of love with your role, then an adult discussion with your manager, where you come with some ideas about realistic things you can change, is worth a try before doing anything more drastic. Don’t make ultimatums, or drop hints about all the offers you’ve already had from headhunters. Instead, share the things you enjoy and the things that are causing you to want to stay under the duvet on a Monday morning, with your suggestions on any other tasks you could take on, or how things could be made more fair or spread across the team. If you feel your job is substantially different from the one for which you were originally employed, this may also be worth discussing – it might be that you need help prioritising which areas the business want you to concentrate on. Be realistic though – it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get rid of all the boring bits and keep the fun bits: unless you can think of a way of eliminating these tasks from the organisation altogether, the tasks will have to go somewhere…
7. Redefine your role.
If you are feeling brave, and the above discussion with your manager goes well, there might be scope for you to redefine your role, particularly if it’s specialist or niche. Perhaps you’ve ended up doing all the training or all the recruitment, and there’s room to redefine your role as having 30% of your time ear-marked for this, rather than doing it on top of the ‘day-job’. If you can make a business case for this, and be clear about costs and benefits to the organisation, qualitative and quantitative, this is likely to considerably strengthen your case. The final step in this would be to ensure appropriate reward – if you’re doing a lot more than you were employed to do, you are justified in asking for more money. Again, a business case will help here!
8. Consider your wider organisational contribution.
Where else can you use your talents in the organisation? Can you join the social committee or build your network in the organisation? In addition to your job itself, what other benefits does your role bring that you’re not taking advantage of? Are there great people? Do you get to play netball or attend a film club? Do they offer benefits like discounts in certain shops, healthcare or language courses? Make sure you don’t only think about the job itself, as our ‘work’ encompasses a great deal more than that, and these factors should also be taken into account.
And lastly, remember that every job, and every company, has pros and cons. It’s unlikely you will find the perfect role, with the perfect benefits. Sometimes a little redesign of, or reflection on, your current role can shift it back into the positive column without all the hassle and stress of moving companies!