Many of us spend most of our waking life working. Sometimes we fall into a love-hate relationionship with the job depending on what occurs. The three things you should always do is assess, change, and ask before you jump onto another ship. Here are some things to consider.
1. What do you like and dislike about the job? Seems simple enough, right? I give out scholarship money for a living, which is a pretty cool job. However, sometimes the crazy traveling schedule, my daily two hour commute, and prickly client personalities can bog me down. Do the positives outway the negatives? If there are negatives that are really eating at you, can you make changes or speak with your supervisor to make adjustments? Concerning my commute… I am going to start taking lightrail; it’s the same amount of time if I drive. Doing so will allow me to read and enjoy my coffee before getting to the office. My workload was out of scope for my job duties. I spoke with my boss and she was able to reassign funds to other people. She was unaware and shocked that I had so many in the first place. Always assess the good and bad qualities, figure out changes you can make, and ask your supervisor about other adjustments before you jump!
2. Been passed for a promotion one too many times? Demonstrate initiative by sitting down with your supervisor to ask why, and to craft a professional development plan. Don’t get defensive regarding the reasons why, use them as a foundation for your professionk development plan. A professional development plan should always be part of your review process, but some supervisors are better than others in including this step. Before you meet with your supervisor, come up with ideas for possible crosstraining, mentorships, association memberships, and professional development trainings that will be beneficial to your growth. Ask your supervisor what you need to demonstrate in order to earn that next career step. Get it in writing, and if you can, submit a copy to HR to be included in your record. Thay way, when you meet the steps required by your supervisor it will be on file. Sometimes there might not be any open positions for awhile, so take advantage of professional development oppotunities that will bolster your resume for the next opportunity. Remember, you are not a hostage of your job….make it work for you!
3. Do you like your co-workers? I feel lucky that my current co-workers are pretty great. Of course, that hasn’t been the case at every place. Always be nice to everyone, but be sure to connect with co-workers who will inspire, challenge, and support you in your work related endeavors. At one organization where I worked, equity, diversity, and inclusion were pretty new concepts that were being incorporated into the organization’s mission, but at a snails pace. I was working with clients who continuously said inappropriate things that would have never been uttered or allowed during my years working in higher ed. I felt alone. I went to lunch with some co-workers and was suprised they felt the same way. So, we decided to meet every month for lunch to discuss articles, situations, and problem solve issues—together. I felt like I wasn’t alone in dealing with awkward and inappropriate comments. We often smacked our heads from some of the stories we shared. Don’t know anyone? Invite a group of co-workers to lunch. The workplace jungle is a lot easier to handle if there are others to help navigate.
4. You need a higher salary. We have all felt this way at one time or another. However, do you feel this way because you think you deserve more or because the market for your job says so? Bring in job descriptions of similar jobs from both inside and outside of the organization. Have a candid conversation with yourself and your supervisor, but be mindful of not coming across as “I deserve” this salary. I recently had a conversation with my supervisor, because my experience far exceeded their expectations and I was performing duties outside of my job description. Be sure to always keep a copy of your original job description! I brought the descriptions in, my own job description, and told my boss that I wanted to make sure that I was being compensated fairly. We discovered that my job description was missing key elements of my actual duties. She sctually had a different one than mt original copy. We revised it, and my supervisor asked HR to add my position to be included in a salary review that was currently in process across the organization. In the meantime, my supervisor was willing to change my schedule to accomodate one of my outside obligations, and is working with me to figure out more training opportunities that support my personal interests. So, even if it doesn’t work out to a salary change, the conversation might open a pathway for further review, schedule flexibility, and training opportunities.
5. Network, network, network. Part of my job requires membership in different associations. When I’m at a conference, I try to meet and exchange information with five different people. I also try to stay connected with people in and out of my career field. If I have an idea, I might contact or have coffee with an outside colleague to get a different perspective. Get involved with an association, stay in touch with others outside of your field, and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. Out of the blue, a colleague and president of an association appointed me as the chair of an equity and diversity committee. I would have never had the opportunity if I hadn’t made the effort to connect with her about a concern that members expressed about an equity related workshop presented by the association. The more you make yourself visable and connect with outside colleagues, the more opportunities may be presented to you.
6. Don’t let your job define you. Work to live, don’t live to work. A job is a means to an end. Yes, be good at your job, but it shouldn’t be everything in your life. Use your job for you. Take that vacation, use sick hours if you are feeling ill or need a mental health day, and go to trainings that you enjoy. I like to think of myself as a musician, writer, wife, and aspiring music therapy college student. The job is just something I do to allow me to do support those identities.
7. So, you have assessed, made all possible changes, and asked. If the job is still sucking your soul…then get your life preserver and get ready to jump. But, do so gracefully. If you leave in a huff, you risk a good reference from your boss, co-workers, and you might break the network you painstakingly built.