Whether you like it or not, how others perceive you means that you don’t own your brand. Is reality perception or perception reality? Whenever there is a question of who you are, and in the absence of your understanding and input, you allow others to define you based on their own views and preconceived ideas. (Page 19, The Future Of You)
As demonstrated by the above quote from my book The Future of You, aligning reality with how others see you (and how you see yourself), is critical to your success in business and in life.
An old proverb states that your perception is defined by three mirrors; the first mirror is how you see yourself, the second mirror is how others perceive you and, the third mirror is the truth.
Getting to that truth requires your active involvement so that you can identify and bridge any gaps between how you see yourself and how others see you.
In today’s post I will share with you with the three essential tips to align perception with reality, which will set you on a course for greater success.
Tip #1 – Make Sure Your Perception IS Reality
“Our belief does not change reality or truth. You may sincerely believe something to be true, but you may be sincerely wrong.” (Page 8, The Future Of You)
You know you are doing a great job!
You have no doubt that you are at the front of the line in terms of getting that promotion, or a mere a rubber stamp away from getting a well deserved raise.
Over my 20 plus years as an executive coach, I have counseled many people on the other side of their disappointment at not getting an anticipated promotion or worse, unexpectedly losing their job when they believed that they were on top of their game.
Besides wishing that I had been able to work with them beforehand, the one thing that I would want everyone would realize, is that their view of the world and themselves is not often shared by others. At least not without a conscious effort.
Here is what you need to do to avoid a disconnect between how you see yourself and how others see you;
- Conduct market research. Select approximately ten people (HR, senior executives, colleagues, direct reports and/or customers) to offer you advice on specific areas you could improve upon. Make them comfortable by asking what others might think rather than asking their own personal opinion.
- If you receive negative feedback, do not be defensive or attempt to justify your position. Remember, this is how people see you. There is no right or wrong, nor are there good guys or bad guys. Take in the information gracefully, and learn from it.
- Know how and why your actions affect others and how this impacts their perception of your value.
Tip #2 – Make Sure You See Your True Reflection
“If your brand value truly reflects your personal values that align with who you really are, you will have created a magical harmony from within.” (Page 8, The Future of You)
What you see in the mirror is ultimately a reflection of how you see yourself and your value to the world.
Take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see . . . what do you really see?
I have always found it interesting that some of the people we consider to be successful and confident are, in reality, insecure and uncertain.
This internal disconnect is more difficult to align because it is based on what YOU believe about YOU! Like the old saying about being your own worst critic, this can undermine your efforts.
Here are a few suggestions as to what you can do to see the “true” you when you look in your personal mirror;
- You know the saying about treating others the way you would like them to treat you? Well the same principle applies when we look inward. In other words, treat yourself as you would treat others. Show the same generosity of a gentle and forgiving spirit towards yourself, as you would towards someone else. Or to put it another way, and while it may sound trite, always be kind to yourself.
- Know your values and stick to them. It is in our compromises that we lose our true sense of self-worth.
- Don’t carry the baggage of other people’s misconception of who you are and what you can do.
- “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” You cannot dwell on what has happened in the past, only upon what you can do in the here and now.
Tip #3 – Remember the Emerson Rule
“One of the most important ways to manage the perception of your brand is by being consistent.” (Page 48, The Future Of You)
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” After talking about how you are perceived by others and yourself, there is no small irony in the fact that it is your actions that people will remember most.
So how do you walk the talk of aligned perceptions?
Here are a few essential tips;
- Be clear on people’s expectations and then meet or exceed them.
- Misconception is born out of a lack of understanding, and misperception a lack of communication. Say what is on your mind in a productive manner that leads to greater collaboration.
- Don’t say one thing, and then do another. Nothing will undermine the perception others have of you more than inconsistency.
Always Be Value Driven
“All the success you achieve will mean very little if your beliefs and values are not aligned with your actions, and in turn the enduring perceptions that others have of you.” (Page 13, The Future Of You)
To be valued as a person, you must be a person of values and value.
In the end, when our values are aligned with our actions, we have a clear path to a fulfilling career and life that will not only benefit ourselves, but others as well.
In my book The Future Of You: Creating Your Enduring Brand, I wrote that even though Colonel Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken brand image had experienced several transformations over the years, its core specialty is and continues to be chicken. Go ahead and ask someone what comes to mind when you say KFC. Almost instantly they will say chicken . . . fried chicken.
Now why am I talking about the Colonel today?
If you have seen the recent series of commercials in which Colonel Harland Sanders has been reincarnated in the form of numerous famous actors and comedians, you will immediately know why. The commercials are a riot. The Colonel is hip!
Beyond watching the videos – by the way, be sure to check out the one with the guy giving his girlfriend a corsage with a crispy chicken thigh to be worn on her hand – I want you to also think of how you are, and how you want, to be perceived.
No this doesn’t mean that I want you to imagine yourself in a white suit with the Colonel’s black tie.
When I ask you to think about perception, I am talking about how leadership, colleagues and your customers view you in terms of your current day relevancy and impact on them. Specifically, are you able to project a newer and more up to date image, while still remaining true to your originality and those things that make you unique?
The Colonel certainly has. In fact, one might say that he has come full circle in that the franchise has returned to its origins, after spending years trying to find its place in an ever changing market.
During that period, when KFC attempted to introduce a new menu of “healthy foods,” it saw its once dominant market share drop dramatically. There was no familiar Colonel with whom the public could relate.
The brand lost itself in its attempts to adapt and compete, and subsequently drifted. It didn’t fit in anywhere.
Have you ever felt like that in your career . . . lost and uncertain as to where you fit in within your organization.
If you have, maybe it’s time to take a cue from the Colonel and rediscover and reenergize what originally made YOU great!
“We have to move away from the belief that people are born with “IT”, and recognize that we all possess unique abilities and gifts to create our own brand of executive presence.”
Are you receiving feedback that you need executive presence? Are you being told what “IT” is, and how “IT” should look?
If you are like most, it is unlikely that you are getting specific direction as to the changes you need to make. Or you may believe executive presence is unattainable as you are not an executive.
In a world that is constantly trying to conform you to somebody else’s ideal image, often times it is far too easy to fall into the trap of being dissatisfied with who you are and your own unique and inherent abilities.
This is why, as an executive coach, I have focused my energy on making “IT” or Executive Presence, accessible to everyone, without their having to become someone they are not. In other words, I have successfully worked with people to empower them to find their executive presence within the framework of their authentic self.
With this month’s eNewsletter, I will help you to lay the foundation for building your executive presence, so that you will shine in your own right.
In Your Own Right . . . The Right Way
“If your brand truly reflects your personal values and aligns with your goals (not someone else’s vision of who and what you should be), you will have created a magical harmony from within and will present a unified and sustaining image that will neither disappoint nor surprise but instead endure.”
The above is an excerpt from my book The Future Of You: Creating Your Enduring Brand.
At its core, executive presence is the ability to know yourself. It is the ability to understand what drives you and the things for which you are willing to work. This is not about smoke and mirrors but honing in on the ability to be your own best PR manager.
Action Item 1: Recognize What Executive Presence Actually Is
“Executive presence is a special quality that captivates others to follow you and inspires allegiance and devotion. It paves the way to personal leadership and is earned rather than appointed.”
Some have suggested that the definition of executive presence is mysterious and subject to personal interpretation. After all, what is this “special quality” that some seem to have, while others don’t? It is as if it is left to chance, as opposed to being the result of a tangible effort.
However, the fact is that you don’t start off with executive presence, you earn it.
In other words, executive presence is not something you are born with; it is the result of making a conscious decision to invest in the management of your reputation and having the courage to step-up and stand out.
Like the person who regularly works out at the gym and is in great physical shape, creating your own executive presence requires your time, energy and full commitment. There are no shortcuts, but the returns or rewards are significant IF you are willing to put in the required effort.
Ready to make the commitment? Here are a few things you must do to get the ball rolling:
- Identify your passion. Be brutally honest with yourself. Do you believe in what you are doing and do you have a passion for being the best at it? You need to follow your heart and invest time in doing what you love.
- Set yourself apart. Determine what it is that makes you unique and different from someone else. This could relate to your style of clothing, your emotional intelligence, your expertise, your interpersonal skills or your readiness to initiate change.
- Build greater self-awareness of how others perceive your executive presence. Conduct market research and seek feedback from trusted advisors/confidantes/sponsors who will tell you the truth.
- Choose those behaviors that support your “best” self and identify success pillars along the way.
Action Item 2: Look The Part
In today’s fast paced business world, we are being forced to form quick first impressions. Whether fair or not, we tend to stereotype people. You need to ensure that you are not giving off mixed messages.
I know that the term dress for success has been used to the point of becoming almost superfluous, even irrelevant. But do not underestimate its importance.
I absolutely believe that executive presence begins with the cover – as in the cover of a book. It is an outside-in proposition, in which the way you present yourself in both your dress and body language is critical.
If the book cover is shabby, bland, generic, it will present an ineffectual image that will, regardless of the power of the message within its pages, make it invisible and dispensable.
However, if the cover is compelling, attractive, unique and current, then people will be moved to pick it up and to open it. This means that you have to manage perceptions. Above all, do not allow titles or positions to intimidate or distract you. Regardless of whether someone is a CEO or VP, you deserve to be seen and heard.
The following tips will enable you to not only gauge how people see you, but also what you need to do to put the right face to your executive presence.
- Be aware of the subliminal messages your body language is sending. Are you open and inviting, or withdrawn and closed? When you fold your arms in front of your body, you form a barrier between you and the other person. This can be perceived as defensive or scared. In contrast, leaving your arms unfolded and maintaining steady eye contact will make others feel welcome.
- When entering a room, walk with purpose and smile, raising your chin slightly to project confidence and approachability.
- Strike a pose. Stand tall with your feet slightly apart when you are engaging others or presenting at a meeting. This pose makes you look bigger and stops you from looking timid. Even if you don’t feel confident, you will feel and look more powerful.
- Don’t wait for someone to come up to you before introducing yourself. Instead, be the first one to reach your hand out to meet someone new. Always shake hands for the length of time it takes to know the color of the person’s eyes and repeat their name.
- Dress for the job you want. If you don’t look the part of a leader, you’re not likely to be given the role.
- While you do not have to wear the latest fashions from Paris, or look like you just stepped out from the cover of GQ, your professional dress should reflect a crisp and clean look and feel.
- Your style should be both current and aligned with your environment. Do not make a statement by dressing or looking radically different from everyone else. The boardroom is no place for purple hair or unconventional clothing.
- Grooming counts as much as clothing. Invest in a good stylist who understands how you want to be perceived. Beards should be trimmed appropriately.
Action Item 3: GET VISIBILITY
“Decide what you want. Believe that you’ll get it. Live as if you already have it
Like the muscles in your body that may be hidden, only to emerge after you begin to really exercise, you already have within you executive presence.
It may be hidden beneath years of uncertainty and career compromises, but it is there within you as it is within a Richard Branson, or a Michelle Obama. In short, rebrand yourself by creating your own publicity campaign, without needing to stand on a soapbox or copy these examples.
This is not to suggest that you need to be aggressively self-promoting, but you do have to be noticed. You may not crave recognition, however, working hard outside of the spotlight often results in being taken for granted or not being given credit for your ideas. If you’re not in people’s thoughts, then you’ll be passed up for new projects, additional responsibilities or promotions.
Let’s look at some strategies that you can use to get noticed in the workplace.
- Move from being a generalist to a strategist. Think strategically about what types of skills your organization needs. Expand these skills, as the more knowledgeable and skillful you become in a particular area, the more likely you are to be appreciated for your work.
- Speak up in the first ten minutes at a meeting. If you are not a subject matter expert, come prepared with a thought provoking question to show that you are present.
- Create a networking navigation plan that will give you the visibility to decision makers and influencers.
- Build a network of “allies” who can help you get assigned to interesting, significant, or eye-catching projects.
- Ask your boss to assign you to a project where you can “rock” and bring in the results that will set you up for success and recognition from leadership.
- Get involved in your company’s charities where you can expand your relationships to include the senior leaders with whom you may not normally have access.
Many Paths To The Same Destination
While the action items listed above are by no means the complete list of steps for creating your own unique brand of executive presence, it is a good place to start.
That said, there is one final point that I would like to make . . . there is no “one way” to achieve presence unless you have a game plan.
However, a solid game plan must recognize the fact that everyone is at a different place or stage, and therefore will need to focus on the development of different traits. Or to put it another way, one size does not fit all.
In the end, there are many varied and diverse paths to achieving executive presence. It is reflected in how you navigate your career to make a difference, your willingness to challenge the status quo, as well as your ability to inspire others to follow you.
As such, and in the words of Greg Anderson who wrote the book 22 Non-Negotiable Laws of Wellness “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”
Wishing you success at projecting your “IT”,
“Disruption” describes a process whereby a smaller company with fewer resources is able to successfully challenge established incumbent businesses. – Harvard Business Review article
Right off the bat, you may read the above excerpt from a December 2015 HBR article and say to yourself “I am not a business, I am an employee – why should this matter to me?”
So before we get into the steps to becoming a disruptive leader in your organization, I think that it is important to recognize one important fact . . . there is no such thing as an employee.
Yes, you are employed by your company, and yes, you receive a regular paycheck. But organizations are no longer looking for employees. They are looking for individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for thinking beyond the familiar. In essence, they want people who possess an intrapreneurial spirit, and a burning desire to drive greater success.
In this regard, you are like a small company, and your employer is in reality your customer or client.
Once you come to terms with this realization, a whole new world of thought and energy will open up to you.
1. Believe That Disruption Can Start At Any Level
The very nature of being a disruptive force means that you do not have to have an executive position within your company to be an agent of innovative change.
In fact, in many instances, it is those on the front lines of every day business who usually gain a first hand understanding of what customers are looking for in the way of products or services. In other words, you are plugged in, so use it to your advantage.
What are your customers saying? Are there areas for potential improvement, or service requirements that have yet to be filled?
Are there changes within your organization that can be made to improve customer satisfaction?
2. Make The Time To Take Action
Do you remember the old saying about regret?
In the end, the only regrets we have are about the chances we didn’t take!
Think about that for a moment.
The question you have to ask yourself is what is holding you back?
What keeps you from responding to a need?
Is it a lack of confidence? A fear of failure?
These are certainly potential obstacles. However, what I have found over the years is that procrastination and distraction are often times your greatest enemy.
You are busy, and pressed for time. There is a greater demand today to do more with less resources. How can you possibly add another task or pursue a new idea? Sure you believe you have a better way to serve a client’s need, or improve an internal process that will create new efficiencies. One day you will get to that. But right now, you can only see what is immediately in front of you.
This is why it is important for you to make the time to take action.
Recognizing an opportunity to make a difference is not enough. You have to reach out and grab it. You have to make it yours, and in so doing you will mobilize your dreams and realize your full potential.
3. Don’t Quit
So you have recognized a need, and have stepped up to make it happen, but not everyone shares your vision or enthusiasm.
The resistance you are encountering takes many forms. Sometimes it is apathy. Other times it is a full frontal critiquing as to why your idea won’t work or, isn’t working.
What do you do?
First of all, realize that in pursuing a better way you are always going to encounter resistance. Getting over the “we have always done it this way” mindset is likely going to be the first line of defence you will encounter.
As a result, and regardless of what others may say, you have to remember that you are not after consensus. While you will always want to gain champions for your ideas, as well as leverage the insights from a cherished mentor, at the end of the day, it is up to you.
How far are you willing to go to make a positive difference?
What’s more, if you were to quit, could you live with yourself if someone else, somewhere down the road, made your idea work?
Winston Churchill once said “Never give in – never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”
Do you believe in what you are doing?
Does what you are doing make sense?
If you can honestly answer yes to these two questions, then don’t quit!
Make Your Magic happen . . . today!
“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one” – Elbert Hubbard
Have you ever come back from a vacation feeling more tired and stressed than before you left?
If you have, you are not alone!
According to a Wellness Junction survey, 54 percent of respondents indicated that they were tired when they returned from their vacation. Of those, 19 percent reported that they were “very tired or even exhausted.”
Now you might attribute these feelings to doing too much parasailing or hiking or whatever you do while away. However, this is not necessarily the reason for your post vacation funk. In fact, according to one expert, the problem actually begins before you even leave home.
Do Leave Home Without It!
You are probably familiar with the famous tagline from the old American Express commercial “don’t leave home without it!”
This is great advice for travelers checks and credit cards, but not so much when it comes to the things that can interfere with your actually taking a vacation on your vacation.
You have to leave work off of your vacation itinerary to truly relax and re-energize, suggests Dr. Roger Cadieux, a clinical professor of psychiatry. If youmust work, the doctor adds, you should limit your efforts to “high priority tasks.”
This would seem like a reasonable compromise but . . . can you really get away from it all for a much needed break if you never leave the office?
My Vacation Quiz
Take a few moments to answer the following five “YES” or “NO” questions to determine if you are indeed vacation ready:
i) Besides a bonafide emergency, did you check in with the office more than once during your last vacation?
ii) During a vacation leisure activity when you were having fun, did you ever feel pings of either guilt or worry regarding being away from the office?
iii) As your last vacation was coming to an end, were you already thinking about what needs to be done at work when you return?
iv) As your upcoming vacation time approaches, are you counting the days with joyful anticipation or anxiety about being away from the office?
v) Have you ever cancelled a vacation for work related reasons . . . more than once?
- If you answered NO to all five questions, your are good to go. Enjoy your time off!
- If you answered YES to 1 to 3 of the five questions, you have some more vacation prep work to do. Check my 3 steps below.
- If you answered YES to all five questions . . . read all three steps below and then email me in the morning. We have some work to do if you (and your family) are going to enjoy your vacation.
With today’s mobile, ultra-connected in real-time technology, separating yourself from the world and your office may seem like an impossible task?
However, if you follow my three simple steps to vacation serenity, you will find that a brief sojourn from the day-in and day-out demands of the business world will do you a world of good.
One More Thought . . .
When it comes to tuning out and kicking back to relax and enjoy a vacation, an Ohio State study found that women have a much more difficult time than men in this department.
Unlike men, who are great at compartmentalizing their lives, and are thus better able to disconnect from the office, women tend to contaminate their free time with thoughts of things they should have done or completed.
The problem of course is that there is always going to be something that needs to be done. Or to put it another way, there is no such thing as the perfect time to take a vacation.
To those women who are reading this, you need to pay particular attention to Step 1, especially with regard to the fact that you deserve a vacation, and that you cantrust the other members of your team to step up and do what needs to be done in your absence.
Step 1: Mindful Preparation
“Every person needs to take one day away . . . Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence . . . Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now by Maya Angelou
Long before you board that plane or get behind the wheel of your RV, your vacation should have already begun.
You cannot simply transition your mind from work mode to vacation mode at the flip of a switch.
Think of your vacation like the beginning of a race. A runner doesn’t simply show up at the track a few minutes before the starter’s gun is fired and expect to run well.
Instead, the runner shows up a couple of hours before the race. They stretch to loosen up, and go through their pre-race routine. By the time the race is ready to begin, they are ready both mentally and physically to run the race.
They are in the competitive frame of mind.
Here are a few tips that will help you to get into a vacation frame of mind:
- Accept the fact that everyone deserves (and needs) some time away from the office.
- Trust the people who are on your team. They know what they are doing and will do a good job in your absence.
- Start scaling back and transferring your workload the week before your departure. (I will talk about the pre-vacation check list in greater detail in the next section)
- Recognize that you have to actually leave the office mentally, before you can leave it physically.
Step 2: Practical Preparation
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
This saying doesn’t just apply to what you do at work, it also applies to what you do when getting ready for your vacation.
Like the runner in the race, do you have a pre-vacation check list for work?
If you don’t, you are likely to be bothered by the “did I” afterthoughts, that will at first poke at you and then grow into a distracting concern.
I am talking about the kind of nagging, peace robbing thoughts similar to those we have after leaving the house. You know which ones . . . did I turn off the iron or lock the garage door?
To keep the “did I” afterthoughts to a minimum, here is what you can do:
- Designate a back-up contact at your office while you are away. This person will be the one who will handle all of your calls, e-mails as well as any co-worker or client requirements in your absence.
- 1 week before your scheduled departure day, create a new voice mail message, indicating that you will be away from the office during this period, and to contact this person during your absence.
- The day before you leave the office, set-up an out of office auto-reply on your e-mail with your back-up contact’s coordinates.
- Clean your office and desk or workspace before you go. This way if someone needs access to a file or any additional information, they will not have to go on a search a rescue type mission to find it.
- You should leave a list of your passwords with your manager or trusted co-worker, in the event that they need to access your system.
- Finally, provide your back-up contact with an emergency only number for them to reach you. However, resist the temptation to use your mobile device to check in with the office. In short, treat it like the Bat Phone in Commissioner Gordon’s office. You only pick it up when the phone rings.
Step 3: Just Do It!
Have you scheduled your vacation and are you ready to go? Check!
Have you prepared for your departure, including briefing your back-up contact and letting everyone know that you will be away? Check!
So there is just one question . . . what’s holding you back? Absolutely nothing.
Whether we want to believe it or not, the world will not stop rotating on its axis when we are away.
Need further incentive to embrace the vacation mindset?
Here are two things to keep in mind:
- Taking time off – really taking time off – both physically and mentally will enable you to recharge your batteries and come back to work refreshed and reenergized.
- Taking time off to pursue and enjoy your personal interests, will benefit your overall sense of well being and your health. A vacation is the ultimate work-life balance formula.
If all Else Fails . . .
Still not convinced that you should not only take, but enjoy a vacation?
Then check out this recent Harvard Business Review article titled “The Research Is Clear: Long Hours Backfire For People and for Companies.”
As you will note, there are a myriad of studies that report the following:
- There is no evidence to support that those employees who work longer hours produced or accomplished more than those who didn’t.
- The longer the hours you work – even if you really enjoy your job, the more likely you will make mistakes.
In the end, overwork – including not taking time off to tune out the office and truly enjoy your vacation will inevitably produce “diminishing returns.”
So if you won’t take a vacation for yourself, then do it for your company. They will appreciate it!
“workplace stress costs more than $300 billion each year in health care, missed work and stress-reduction.” – American Institute of Stress
In today’s fast-paced business world there is an ever increasing demand to do more with fewer resources, and in less time, than ever before.
This can lead you to feel stressed . . . or should I say S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D! Especially if you work in an environment in which you are only as good as your last success or sale.
As hard as people work, it can be difficult to keep up.
The question this raises is what can you do to tame the stress monster and, restore some semblance of peace and balance to your life – both professionally and personally?
1. Know The Source Of Your Stress
I recently read a book about emotional intelligence in which the author talked about the importance of finding the balance between your emotional mind and your rational mind.
Without getting into the physiological make-up of your brain, anxiety and/or stress occur when our emotional side overrides our rational thought process, to the point that we are in a state of constant reaction.
This can lead to feelings of being out of control, which in turn perpetuates an escalating cycle of stress.
In an effort to regain control and leverage your rational thinking abilities, knowing what is causing your stress is key.
According to studies by Stress.org, the main causes of workplace stress are:
- Workload – 46%
- People issues – 28%
- Juggling work / personal lives – 20%
- Lack of job security – 6%
While you may have one or perhaps even a combination of the above listed sources being at the root of your stress, you can do something about it.
2. Recognize That You Are Not Powerless – Take Action
One of the worst feelings you can have is to feel that you are trapped and that you can’t do anything about it.
When that happens, you are reduced to being nothing more than a spectator in your own life. This ultimately increases your stress levels!
But you can do something.
For example, if your workload is too heavy, schedule a meeting with your boss. Let them know that you want to maintain your current high level of performance but require more resources.
I can’t tell how many times over the years I have seen first hand, people who were trapped by nothing more than their own misperceptions as to what would happen if they spoke up and said stop, I have a problem or I need help.
If you are experiencing workplace stress because of a relationship issue with a fellow employee, make sure that you document everything and then seek support from either a mentor or your HR Department.
If the source of your relationship woes are with your boss, read one of my most recent posts titled 3 Steps For Dealing With A Bad Boss.
The point is you are not powerless, so don’t simply accept the cards you have been dealt – reshuffle the deck and take new cards.
3. If You Can’t Change It, Then Just Change
There are of course things that you can’t control or change.
External factors beyond your control include a Merger & Acquisition, or the arrival of a new boss. Either of these scenarios can certainly throw your world into a temporary spin off its axis.
The key to dealing with stress that originates outside of your direct control, is to not dwell on what has happened . Instead consider all angles and then determine what course of action you can take.
If you have a new boss, schedule a time to meet with them to learn what their goals are, and how you can help them to achieve it. If you do not fit into the new boss’ plans, then proactively look for work elsewhere.
4. Have The Courage To Face The Unknown . . . Freedom
At the end of the day, believing that you are trapped and simply grinning and bearing an intolerable situation while waiting for the other shoe to drop, is likely to be more stressful than anything else.
It is far better to have the difficult conversations and to look behind the curtain of the unknown, than it is to simply stay put and do nothing.
Or as a great President once said, the “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself.”
If you had to do it all over again, would you still chose the job you are now doing?
It is a simple question with far reaching consequences. Especially since the lions share of your waking hours are spent at the office.
I am not talking about the occasional off day, when one wistfully contemplates their what could have been childhood dream of becoming an astronaut, professional athlete or someone famous.
What I am talking about is your reaching a point of total disillusionment. A point where the chasm between original career expectations and the reality of unfulfilled job satisfaction widens with each passing day.
“In a poll of 15,000 job seekers, 87.2% indicated that they wanted to leave their present employer within the next 12 months.”
In my last post I had made reference to a Gallup Poll which found that 87.2% of respondents had indicated that they wanted to leave their present employer within the year.
While 52.6% said their reason for wanting to make the change was due to the fact they did not trust their current boss, one thing is clear . . . dissatisfaction is not limited to a select few. Just as an aside, if you are one of the 52.6% who have a trust issue with your boss, check out my previous post for tips on what you can do to turn things around.
What Are You Prepared To Do?
If you are unhappy with your present job, the obvious question is why do you stay? Why not make a change?
I am certain that you have many good reasons for maintaining your present state of inertia. You undoubtedly have bills to pay, or kids on the verge of entering college or – if you are a Millennial – see your present position as a means of striking out on your own in an exciting, new world of total independence. In short, you find yourself stuck between the irresistible force of personal dreams and unrealized aspirations, and the immovable object of having to earn a living.
As a result, you get caught up in what I call career paralysis, and the resulting hopelessness of believing you are trapped.
But you do have a choice.
You can continue to sit idly by and watch your days of discontentment turn into weeks, months and then years – which really isn’t an option.
Alternatively, YOU can decide to take action, starting with identifying the reason or reasons why you don’t like your present job, and what you can do to make things instantly better.
The following are three of the most common reasons why people hate their jobs. There are without a doubt other reasons, but the manner in which you will learn to deal with these will provide you with a proven guideline for dealing with the others.
1. Perceived Low Pay
According to a Psychology Today article, what you make versus what you believe you should be making, is the number one reason for employee dissatisfaction.
Ironically, and based upon the universal tendency to accept the first offer from a potential employer, you may have unintentionally created your own problem. Like the mighty oak that grows from a tiny acorn, the longer you go without addressing your concerns regarding your pay, the more monumental the task to correct it becomes.
Before going through the job interview process, do your homework with regard to industry pay scales. Knowing the position you want, find out what it pays at both the low and high end. This way when you receive an offer you can either accept it if it falls within the industry’s range or, make a counter offer citing your research.
One word of caution . . . resist the temptation to just say yes out of fear of losing the job. Good employers will almost always respect your candor and the fact that you took the time to do your homework, as this demonstrates your work ethic and commitment to details.
What if you have been with your present company for some time?
It is never too late to write a new ending!
If you believe that you should be paid more, then do your homework as if you are looking for a position within the industry today. Either you will discover that your pay is in line with the going rate or, you will be able to demonstrate that it is indeed time for a raise.
Besides checking your emotions at the door, what is a key point to remember when you approach your boss about a raise? It will likely cost your organization more to replace your experience, than it would to pay you a fair and reasonable increase.
2. Lack Of A Challenge
How do you feel about the actual work that you currently do?
For example, if you are you new to the workforce, do you feel that your skills are being fully utilized by your employer? Do you believe that you are making a positive and meaningful contribution to you organization’s goals?
Conversely, are you a long-time employee who is in a secure but mind-numbing rut? Are you simply going through the motions of what were once new and exciting tasks?
Either way, creating satisfaction in terms of your role and responsibilities is actually up to you.
” If you can’t do great things, do small thingsin a great way.” – Napoleon Hill
If you are just starting your career, recognize that it is in the basic, even mundane tasks that you build creditability relative to earning the opportunity to take on greater responsibilities and challenges.
If you are a seasoned veteran, you need go outside of your comfort zone to actively seek out new opportunities. Is there someone you could mentor? How about volunteering for a tough assignment. Chances are, your company will be more inclined to assign the more difficult tasks to someone with whom they are familiar and in whom they have confidence.
The key is to not wait for opportunity to knock on your door, but to aggressively seek out the unexplored needs within your organization and fill them.
3. Employee Turnover
Unlike bygone days when people stayed with the same company throughout their entire careers, the current workforce is increasingly mobile. In fact, it is not uncommon for employees to change jobs every 2 to 3 years.
For many, this revolving door scenario can lead to feelings of detachment and a why bother to get to know someone attitude.
Unlike the issues relating to pay or a lack of being challenged – both of which originate with you and can therefore be addressed by you, there is little if anything you can do regarding employee turnover. In fact the only thing you can do, is learn to live and thrive within the scope of this new reality.
This means that while making lasting connections with coworkers can be difficult, you can still build meaningful relationships by adopting an entrepreneurial mindset.
As an entrepreneur you have a higher degree of independence and accountability to self. This will enable you to maximize the value of the time you spend with co-workers, without becoming completely dependent on them beyond immediate projects.
I am not suggesting that you turn into a lone wolf, operating on an cool,arms-length basis with everyone at the office. What I am saying is that you have to adjust your way of thinking to become self-reliant and self-sufficient.
Interestingly enough, by taking this approach your relationship with co-workers might actually be more productive, as your combined efforts will be tasked-focused. This means that you will collectively increase your productivity and levels of success. Success as you know is is not only a great way to build better teams, it is also a positive force in boosting overall employee morale.
In The End It Is Up To YOU!
Hate in and of itself may be too strong a word. However, the fact that you have to really care about something before you can hate it, demonstrates that there is still a pulse in terms of your having a persevering interest in your job.
This believe it or not, is a positive.
However, once you get to the point of apathy, it is usually too late to turn it around with your present employer. It is not that you can’t take action, it is just unlikely that you will. In this instance, looking for a new and and exciting challenge with a different company might be a good idea.
This is the reason why your future career path and job satisfaction is in your hands.
So I ask you the question once again . . . what are you prepared to do?!