Happy 2018 everyone! I hope that everyone had a wonderful new year’s eve and that you are looking forward to the year ahead. If you’re like me you’re doing a ton of reflecting and thinking about these next 12 months. What to do about your Day Job?
Consider this: many of you may be considering a job change or hoping for a promotion. On the other hand, some of you may be trying to add new skill sets to your daily tasks or look at new projects to tackle. Some of you may be struggling with your work/life alignment. And some of you might be ready to throw your hands up and say, “I Give Up!”
Don’t give up yet. There’s some reflection you can do that will help you get back in the game OR set yourself up for a new game, if you know what I mean. Consider these ten questions as they relate to your Day Job…
1. How is my relationship with my supervisor?
In his book WELL-BEING, author Tom Rath suggests that having a good supervisor is as important as having a good doctor. Think about that – your doctor is responsible for your physical health while your supervisor is responsible for your professional health. At least, that’s always the way I approached supervision. How are you currently approaching your weekly one-on-one’s with your supervisor? Do you look forward to them or do you dread them? A meeting with your supervisor SHOULD be an opportunity to learn and receive feedback; so if you aren’t looking forward to these, it may be time to consider why.
2. How well am I getting along with my peers?
This particular question is different from #3…you don’t have to be best friends with all your peers and colleagues, but you should be able to get along with everyone. Is there a member of your staff or your team who goads you on a regular basis? Someone who is always late and disrespectful? A colleague who constantly one-ups you? We all have them – and the reality is that we need to work with these difficult colleagues whether we want to or not. So how can we reconnect with our challenging colleagues and work with them more efficiently? By finding something in common. Approach that tricky person and ask them what they like to do on the weekends. Find anything you both like to do? Talk about that. It’ll melt some of that funk.
3. Do I have a best friend at work?
Again, referencing a Tom Rath book. VITAL FRIENDS discusses the importance of having that one person in the office who you connect with and whose presence is important to your level of positive engagement. It would be harder to come to work everyday without that person around. This person understands you, what you do at the office, what frustrates you, and what inspires you. And you can do the same for her. Some people may call this relationship a Work Spouse, but I think the Best Friend is just a little different. The best friend may not reside in your same department and you may not even see this person every day. Nonetheless, this is your go-to person and you need her to stay engaged.
4. Am I able to use my strengths and talents in my work everyday?
Part of that work engagement factor can also derive from whether or not you are able to use your super powers at your job on a day to day basis. Does your position allow you to be creative? Do your amazing proofreading skills come in handy? Is your penchant for reconciling bank statements utilized? Can you provide staff development presentations at the drop of a hat? Finally, consider the things you really love to do and come easily to you and ask yourself, “Do I perform these tasks every day?”
5. What new skills did I develop this past year?
I LOVE this question because it is something I can answer on a very regular basis where I work. I am constantly getting new projects that require me to go beyond my scope of expertise and lean in to a new skill set. Even if we are the absolute bomb-diggity at our job day in and day out, we aren’t growing as professionals if we aren’t learning new things. So if you aren’t getting new projects to attack on a regular basis, reach out to your boss and ask for one. Or, consider a new skill that you want to develop because of a professional track you want to follow, and ask your supervisor how to work on that skill.
6. How is my professional growth being supported?
Do you have a professional development budget? Does your supervisor encourage you to register for conferences? Give you books to read? Suggest that you publish this year? Or can you do these things on your own and then talk to your supervisor about them at your one-on-one meetings? You may have the opportunity to present at conferences and travel often; or you may have to seek out your development on your own. But either way, this should be supported whether it’s financially or just having the blessing of your supervisor to go forth and develop!
7. How many hours a week am I working?
There is actually some real history that you can read here to learn more. Henry Ford advanced this idea for Ford Motor Companies in 1914, because he believed that workers were less productive when the worked more hours. There is also data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics stating that unions were created after some companies were abusing their laborers by forcing them to work upwards of 100 hour work weeks. “Limiting” professionals to an 8 hour work day insures that we have the energy and engagement to return to work the next day and continuing being stellar and engaged employees. Or, at least not falling asleep at our work station. However, this is not the current practice for many employees in the US, especially management and non-exempt employees. You have the right and the responsibility to control your work week and keep it at 40 hours. If you can’t do this yourself, you should explore the decisions and options with your supervisor.
8. Do I understand the deductions on my paycheck?
Every year or so I take a peek at my check stub and I have to sometimes call HR and ask about something that appears there. Why does my check say blah-blah-blah, $1.57 deducted? You should definitely know exactly what’s coming out of your check every pay day and why it’s being deducted. Is there a new practice that’s happening and do you understand it? For three years I was forgetting that there are no personal deductions from my check during August and September. Every year I was emailing payroll to find out why my credit union deposit was not being posted.
9. How well do I handle stress at work?
I used to handle it badly. I was a cryer and a passive aggressive little snot when I didn’t get my way and/or had a bad day. Which also often led to stress eating, among other things. Now – I try to consult with my boss when I’m feeling overwhelmed or out of my element. And if I can’t do that then I just close my door or go for a walk. Just a little separation can be the difference between insulting someone or burning a bridge and getting the reset you need to finish the day. Therefore, once you’re home, a long bath or a glass of wine can do wonders!!
10. Am. I. Happy. Here?
This is probably the toughest work question to answer. “I got kids to feed, McPeak. Doesn’t matter if I’m happy.”
Except that it does. It matters a lot.
If you are happy, then keep it up. You’ve found something that engages you and keeps you connected. AWESOME. We all want to be able to have a vocation where we connect with our passion.
If you aren’t happy – why not?
Make a list. Go over them one by one. Select the issue that bugs you the most and see what you can do about it. Can you talk to your supervisor? Your Vital Work Friend? Your significant other? Can you change this issue? See what negatives you can knock off or manage on your own.
If you’ve gone over your list and just don’t see anything that you can change – or you’ve attempted the change and it’s just not going to work – well, that’s another blog post. It’s hard to make the decision to leave a position when you are unhappy, but you do owe it to yourself to at least make an effort to find a vocation that fuels your passion. Please check out my course – Career Goals 2018 – if you would like to explore this more! It’s very affordable (and use the coupon code CAREER to save BIG!).
Stick with me, kids – we’re gonna go places. Leave a comment – I’ll try to answer them all!
Happy New Year!