Kiss and Make Up With Your Career
You’ve seen them on the metro smiling smugly. We know who they are – those women who get up for work every morning with joy in their hearts because they actually like their jobs.
If this doesn’t sound like you, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re part of a growing percentage, according to polls. In 2010, research company, The Conference Board reported that 45 per cent of people are unhappy in their jobs. “Overall, dissatisfaction has spread among all workers, regardless of age, income or residence,” says Lynne Franco, director of the Conference Board’s Consumer Research Centre. “Although a certain amount of dissatisfaction is to be expected, these results are unsettling because it means that what attracts employees to a job, isn’t keeping them motivated.”
According to the report, the things that bug most employees range from bad bosses and bullying colleagues to a lack of recognition and an unrealistic workload. If you’re nodding your head in agreement, read on for tips on how to create a healthy and long-lasting love affair with you career.
Professional passion killer: The bullying boss
Whether she plays favourites, snubs your work or takes the credit for your hard graft, a problem boss can be a real work woe. According to a 2010 survey by the Chartered Management Institute, one in five people feel their boss is treating them unfairly and, of those, half have consequently considered leaving their jobs. Sound familiar? It’s time for a bit of re-bonding.
Cure the heartache: Rather than spiking their morning latte with laxatives (immature, but tempting), “you need to talk to your boss directly,” advises Carol Wilson, managing director of Performance Coach Training (performancecoachtraining.com). “It takes courage, but by calmly putting it out there, you’re giving your boss the opportunity to resolve things. Leave accusations and blame out of it. Open with a statement like, ‘when you did this, it made me feel this way. Is there a way we can avoid that situation in the future?’. Rather than going in all guns blazing, you’ll get a better result,” says Carol.
If a one-on-one chat is out of the question, seek help from outside. Of course, bullying can be defined by anything from exclusion tactics to abuse of power, so it’s important to establish whether you are being bullied, or if you’re being over-sensitive. “Keep a log of everything that’s happening, whether it’s direct comments, unrealistic expectations or insulting emails,” says career psychotherapist, Karen Mann, (karen-mann.co.uk). “These notes reveal a pattern and when you look over them dispassionately, you’ll be able to see if you are a) being bullied, or b) overreacting. If you look over them and feel you really have grounds for complaint, the evidence will be there to help you proceed forwards.”
Professional passion killer: Evil colleagues
So, the water cooler brigade is at it again and you’re suspecting the home dye job that you attempted last week is top of the agenda. Sometimes it can feel as if you’re back at school again and research by bullyingonline.org has found that in the UK around 50 per cent of employees experience cruelty at the hands of co-workers at some point in their careers.
Cure the heartache: Fact: b*tchy colleagues won’t change their attitude towards you, so you have to change your attitude towards them. How? Easy. “Bullies tend to look for victims,” explains Sue Roberts, a life coach and managing director of Freedom Finders (freedomfinders.co.uk). “By hardening yourself to the situation you take yourself off their hit list.” Easier said than done, but Sue suggests a simple neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) technique to make things more bearable. “The way to diminish the power unkind colleagues have over you is to imagine them as ridiculous in your mind. A favourite of mine is to imagine them wearing Mickey Mouse ears. Every time they make a catty comment, or cause you to feel uncomfortable, picture them with a pair of ludicrous ears on. Instead of being fearful of them, gradually you’ll become amused by them instead.”
Professional passion killer: Impostor Syndrome
Despite the fact that you’ve been doing the job for years, you’re hounded by the feeling that you’re not quite up to it. You feel anxious and on edge. Psychologists like to call this ‘imposter syndrome’ – a modern phenomenon that is rife among the late-20s-to-early-30s age group.
Cure the heartache: Now is not the time to be shy. As much as you’ll hate doing this, you’ve got to start blowing your own trumpet. “Ask yourself; what am I not noticing about myself?” says Sue. “Someone who is in a top job, but feels insecure, doesn’t know their worth. Write down all the reasons why you’re good at your job – maybe you’re a great organiser, or perhaps you communicate well with others – and picture that list every time you’re feeling low.” Can’t think of any reasons? Ask a friend to tell you, and write it down. This is a tip reaffirmed by Karen. “Re-educate the hardware in your brain. You have to keep reminding yourself why you’re good enough and make a decision that every time you have one negative thought about your ability, you will combat it with 10 positive ones,” she adds.
Professional passion killer: Lack of recognition
You put in the hours, always go that extra mile and you’re the only one who can make your manager their tea just the way they like it. But still, the last time you received a thank you was in 2008 when you picked up their dry-cleaning – and you’re starting to feel undervalued, unappreciated and, well, insignificant.
Cure the heartache: According to The Human Givens Institute (hgi.org.uk), there are nine basic human needs, and recognition is one of them. However, banging on your boss’s door and asking for a bear hug probably isn’t the way forward. “Of course it’s lovely to get outside affirmation,” says coaching psychologist Rebekah Fensome (rebekahfensomelifecoach.com). “But relying on it will only make you look needy. Ask yourself why it’s so important. It may be because you are suffering from confidence issues. You can also look at the culture of the company. Praise might not be common in that particular corporation, which is no reflection on you.”
However, if you feel this is something you need for a successful work life, Carol suggests speaking up. “It’s a very female thing not to talk about achievements,” says Carol. “But if you want to be praised for your accomplishments, it might be a case of bringing it to your line manager’s attention. I’m not suggesting that you beg for a pat on the back. Simply say something like, ‘did you see the project I did? It’s had a lot of positive feedback. What are your thoughts?’” That said, according to Carol, in these tough times, with staff shortages and heavy workloads, bosses can be guilty of forgetting to praise staff, because they’re too busy. “In this case, try not to take it personally,” advises Carol.
Professional passion killer: An unrealistic workload
It’s 4am. You’re wide awake and your bed sheets are wet. No, it’s not what you think. Rather, you’re sweating over how to complete that proposal, prepare for a meeting and hit a deadline. According to a MetLife study, 56 per cent of Americans have taken on extra duties since the recession hit. While there are no official stats in the UAE, we’re guessing it’s a similar story on our sunny shores (if the size of our eye bags are to be believed).
Cure the heartache: Assuming that throwing a pile of papers in the air and storming out isn’t an option (particularly if you want a reference) you’re going to need to play this one carefully. “If this is a short-term issue, an effective technique is to imagine being at the end of your life and looking back at this time,” recommends Sue. “This will enable you to put things into perspective. You’ll see how small this blip is in the grand scheme of things, rather than feeling like it’s a huge issue.” However, if this is a long-term situation, with no end in sight, “it’s time to take back control,” says Sue. “Ask yourself if you’re managing your time effectively. A good way of doing this is to draw up a weekly schedule. If the situation proves to be untenable, speak to your boss. When you speak to them, make sure you always present a solution (eg budget for an assistant) as this will show you’re using your initiative rather than just moaning about how much work you have. Alternatively, “put together a daily time-line,” says coaching psychologist Rebekah. “If you have two projects, which both require 10 hours work and are due in the next day, draw a time-line of how long each will take and present it to your boss. When it’s written in black and white, it’s difficult to argue with and it’s easier to see solutions.”