Are You Adaptable? Here Are The 5 Characteristics That Ensure Sustainable Success In A Changing World
“Why are we changing . . . we have always done things around here the same way?”
You have probably heard that statement at least once if not many times during your career. You may have even had similar thoughts yourself, when you were faced with a directional shift that either caught you off guard or made you feel uncomfortable.
Don’t worry or feel bad if you have, because I can assure that you are not alone!
Over my many years as an executive coach and personal branding expert, I have helped countless people to navigate the shifting tides of the corporate world. Like the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, change ironically is one of the few things that you can always count on.
The question is how do you respond or react when your view of the world is shaken?
Do you resist and lament change, or do you adapt and move forward?
In today’s post, I will share with you the 5 characteristics needed to ensure your ongoing value and success in a competitive and rapidly changing world.
1. Know What You Stand For!
The introduction to my book The Future Of You: Creating Your Enduring Brand is aptly titled “Before We Start Remember . . . To Thine Own Self Be True.”
To be truly adaptable, you have to look for ways to continually align your abilities with both your work environment and your job’s expectations, while remaining true to your authentic self.
This is the key to being adaptable.
Adaptability is not a matter of acquiescing to change, because you would be merely surrendering to a situation rather than becoming a productive force within it.
When faced with change, upon what is your reluctance or resistance based?
If it doesn’t compromise your values or integrity, then you should be open to change. It doesn’t mean that you will automatically like it but, with an open mind, you’re willing to give proposed changes a fair chance.
2. Keep An Open Mind
Speaking about keeping an open mind . . .
You must always check your ego at the door. In other words, go into any situation with an open mind. Regardless of what you hear, avoid being defensive or over justifying your position. Do not think about change in the context of being right or wrong.
Instead, embrace it as an opportunity to see a situation from someone else’s perspective. Let’s face it, no one has all the answers, or knows the best way of doing things all of the time.
Keeping an open mind also means that you have to trust the motives of the person facilitating or championing the change. Do you know the person well? Do you understand their reasons for wanting to make changes? If you don’t, then don’t be afraid to ask them. It’s important for you to do so in a manner that does not appear being judgmental.
Open by saying, “I am very excited to learn more about the changes you are proposing. I’d like to gain a better understanding of why you believe this is the way to go. In this way, I can support you and make a contribution to achieving the desired results.”
3. Curiosity Doesn’t Kill the Cat
Just as asking questions is meant to open a dialogue, curiosity opens up a world of new possibilities.
By being curious, you are always looking for ways to do something better, to improve upon an idea or strategies for solving a complex problem.
When you are curious, you don’t jump to conclusions based upon a narrow view of the world. Instead, you will naturally seek to learn more – even before a proposed change is introduced. In fact, those who possess a curious mind and a courageous spirit, are often the ones introducing or leading change.
4. Be A Risk Taker
Lewis Carroll once said: “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”
Do you have the courage to consider a new path? Are you open to letting go of what you thought was the only way to do things, and embrace something different.
I have often found that resistance to change has more to do with a fear of not being able to adapt or moving outside of your comfort zone, as opposed to a belief that the proposed new idea is a bad one.
In this context, change is really about having the courage to take a step of faith. Do you have faith in yourself to succeed in any situation? If not, what is really holding you back?
5. Find Your Inner MacGyver
Back in the mid 1980s, there was a hit television show called MacGyver. In fact it was so popular, that the reboot of the show is scheduled to come out this September.
The main character, Angus MacGyver, was a secret agent who was incredibly resourceful and could solve complex problems by making things out of ordinary objects. In other words, he used whatever resources were available to overcome new and unexpected situations or challenges.
He didn’t lament what he didn’t have, or wish that the circumstances were somehow different. He adapted by being creative and thinking outside of the box.
- Are you a creative and resourceful thinker?
- Are you able to recognize the opportunity beyond the present circumstances to see the bigger picture . . . and your bigger future?
Elevate your Adaptability Quotient
To thrive in an environment of change and risk, you have to act quickly to read and act on signals of change. Build your brand reputation as someone who adapts strategically to uncertainty. In this way, you will be seen as relevant, resilient and resourceful.
Marshall Goldsmith, leadership coach
As the boss, you are in charge.
Your word and direction carry the weight and influence to ensure that what you need done, gets done!
If only the world were that straight forward and neatly packaged. But it isn’t.
Simply being the boss isn’t going to be enough with regard to getting the most from your employees – especially those who consistently present a challenge. Or to quote Marshall Goldsmith, “people become invested in defending their dysfunctions rather than changing them.” Expanding upon these words of wisdom, I believe that you cannot get someone to fix a problem they don’t believe they have!
You can probably recall how, on maybe more than one occasion, you were put in the difficult position of having to deal with a problem employee.
What did you do? How did you handle the situation? Is the employee still with you?
If you could do it all over again what, if anything, would you have done differently?
Regret Or Relief
One thing is certain, if you look back on the experience with regret or, are still trying to get a handle on what happened, it will ultimately have a negative impact in terms of how you will deal with a problem employee in the future.
Ironically, the same may also apply if you were relieved when a problem employee left.
In either of the above instances, there wasn’t a satisfactory resolution, just an ending.
So how do you turn a difficult or underperforming employee into a productive contributor on your team?
In this month’s eNewsletter, I will provide you with the 3 essential tips on how to become a coach, as opposed to a critic of a problem employee. Before we get to my tips, take the following quiz.
Coach Or Critic Quiz
Answer the following seven “YES” or “NO” questions to determine if you are a coach or a critic:
- Did you take the opportunity to learn the employee’s goals and challenges and what steps you could take to help them to achieve them?
- Did you wait until the crisis stage to finally deal with the problem employee?
- Did the employee acknowledge that there was a problem in their performance?
- Did you deal with the problem employee on your own? (i.e. You did not talk about the situation with other members of your team.)
- Did you take the opportunity to share tough feedback with the employee and give real-time examples to validate your observations?
- Did you sit down and have a courageous conversation of possible repercussions if improvements were not made?
- Did you develop a plan of action with realistic timeframes to address the issue(s) with the problem employee?
- If you answered NO to all seven questions, you are a critic.
- If you answered YES to 3 to 4 of the seven questions, you are a critical coach.
- If you answered YES to all seven questions, you are a coach.
So, what is the difference between a coach and a critic?
If you are a coach, you are proactively involved with each member of your team in terms of understanding their personal goals and challenges. You are focused on getting the job done not by edict, but by effectively managing both individual as well as collective expectations. Even though you are likely to encounter challenges in coaching some of your employees – everyone does at some point, the mere existence of said challenges are not viewed as a negative, but as a learning experience. In the end, you take a more holistic, long-term view for developing members of your team.
If you are a critic, you are managing your team from a position of authority. You are singularly focused on your objectives. This means that problems are not likely to be viewed in the context of a bigger picture, but from the standpoint of an immediate disappointment or obstacle to success. You believe that employees should be self-motivated and take full ownership for their performance. If they miss the mark, you are there to tell them they did, as opposed to guiding them to improvement.
What does your score tell you?
How Do You Become A Better Coach?
Now that you know the answer to the question “Are you a coach or a critic,” the following 3 tips will be incredibly useful to you, even if you answered yes to some or all of the questions.
Tip 1: Lay The Foundation For Your Employee’s Success
“Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.” – Sun Tzu
Many bosses do not realize until it is too late, that they have likely played a role in creating a problem employee.
Let’s start off with the premise that every new employee wants to do the best job they can, and be seen as a valuable member of the team.
This is a great starting point.
So why does an employee go off the tracks from hopeful contributor to an unproductive detractor?
Somewhere along the way, their experiences have not aligned with their expectations. This is often due to the fact that outside of their “duties” being outlined in their job description, there is little if any meaningful interaction with you. In short, there has been no relationship building along the way.
Without having a strong and open relationship, how can you be a good coach? And if you can’t be a good coach, how can you be an effective boss?
Here are a few tips that will help you to be the best coach you can be:
- Clearly outline to new employees the goals or objectives of the collective team, including defining what success means to you and the organization as a whole.
- Regularly communicate expectations with your team, both individually and collectively.
- Recognize that managing does not mean looking over an employee’s shoulder to make sure that they are doing the job. Instead, monitor their work and provide guidance when needed.
- Avoid using coaching as a disciplinary function but rather as an opportunity for development.
- If an employee is not performing to expectations, first seek to understand before you judge.
- Use positive reinforcement when you see your employee taking small steps to improve.
Tip 2: Take Positive Corrective Action
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” – Stephen Covey
In the previous tip, I had made reference to the importance of regular communication.
Being able to take positive corrective action with an employee who is struggling or has lost their way, requires a different technique.
Merely talking at an employee who has gone off track, is not a guarantee that they will embrace your message.
Here are a few tips to make certain that you’re talking with, instead of at, your employee:
- Be certain that you fully understand the situation from all perspectives – including the employee’s.
- When an employee makes a mistake, guide as opposed to chastising them. Help them to understand where they made a mistake and that you are there to get them back on track.
- Make the employee a partner in terms of coming up with a mutually agreed upon action plan or solution. This includes seeking their feedback relative to why they think that they went off course.
- Reinforce how important they are to the success of the team.
- Follow-up with the employee on a regular basis to make certain that all is going according to plan.
- Reinforce confidence in your employee. Something that is far greater than your actual words is your attitude.
Tip 3: Recognize When It’s Hopeless
“Defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out.” – Edwin Markham
You are probably familiar with the old saying about leading a horse to water, but not being able to make it drink.
Sometimes, and despite your best efforts, you will be unable to turn things around with a particular employee. Keeping an employee who is no longer reachable will do a great deal of harm to team morale.
How you respond in situations such as these will have far reaching consequences for all concerned – including the employees that remain.
After all, it is in our most challenging circumstances, that our true character reveals itself, not only to others but to ourselves.
The way in which you handle the departure of a problem employee will leave its imprint on your team long after said employee is gone.
As a result, here are a number of important tips:
- Regardless of how the employee responds, never, ever lose your cool. Be courteous but firm, and always be professional. This is not only important for the employees that are still with you, but also for your own self-respect and peace of mind.
- Provide the employee with a clearly structured breakdown of why it is best for he/she to part ways.
- Never stop coaching! If the employee is open to it, share with them productive advice on possible areas of improvement in their next position.
- Finally, schedule a meeting with your team to ask them if they have any questions or comments regarding the departed employee. Far too often, we want to quickly move past a difficult or unpleasant situation. However, you need to recognize the fact that others on your team could have been affected by what happened. Talking about it in a non-judgemental manner will help to clear the air and reaffirm the team’s shared mission.
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford
One final piece of advice . . . don’t dwell on the past. Find opportunities to celebrate your team’s performance. Last, adopt the mindset of a servant leader, dedicated to enriching the lives of your employees and creating a caring culture.
When you were young, is what you’re doing now for a living what you envisioned?
It seems like a fairly straight forward question.
However, how you make your living, actually goes beyond being merely content with what you are doing. What I really want to know is whether or not your current job or position is empowering you to be all you can be in terms of cultivating and developing your true talents or calling.
I know that this may sound like an overarching, perhaps even dramatic question. After all, why poke the alligators with unnecessarily deep queries, especially if you are comfortable within your current circumstances?
So before you respond, take a moment to consider the following . . . when you were young, and all things were still possible, how did you feel?
Did you feel a combination of excitement and freedom? Did you possess an unencumbered perception of the possibilities that laid before you?
Back then, I bet that nothing was out of the question, and everything was likely within your reach.
I know when you get older, your youthful enthusiasms are replaced by a more “realistic” and “practical” understanding of your capabilities, and what you can and cannot do in the real world. It is all a part of growing up and becoming a responsible adult.
Unfortunately, a side effect of this necessary maturation process is that most people lose their ability to still dream – to seek out their own unique talents and capabilities, and align their working life with who they really are, and what they really want to do and CAN DO!
I m not suggesting that you chuck it all and pick-up your old backpack to travel across country . . . unless that’s on your bucket list.
What I am talking about, is recapturing a youthful enthusiasm and passion for what you currently do.
Is that possible? Can you within your present role – with your current company, leverage your unique talents and abilities to their fullest potential? Is it still possible to ignite an enthusiastic spark of endless possibilities and real and enduring personal satisfaction?
If your answer is yes, then congratulations. Keep doing what you are doing, because it is obviously working for you.
If your answer is no, or you are not sure, then you have to decide if it is the career or the company (or both) that need to be changed?
Take the following quiz to find out, and then check your score results to determine what course of action you can take to live the life you envisioned . . . the life you deserve.
- If you could go back and choose another profession or career path, would you?
- Do you often times feel that your true talents and abilities are not being utilized to their fullest potential?
- Do you frequently feel like you are stuck in neutral in terms of being neither happy nor unhappy with your present job?
- If you had all the money in the world and could do anything you wanted, would you do something different?
- Do you execute your daily tasks out of a sense of responsibility and duty, as opposed to being energized and excited about each new undertaking?
- If you could easily and seamlessly move to a different company tomorrow doing the same job, would you?
If you answered YES to the first 5 questions and no to question 6, then you need to look at making a career change.
If you answered NO to the first 5 questions and yes to question 6, then you don’t need a new career – you need a new company.
Regardless, it is important for you to step back from time to time to do a personal inventory, as you are in a state of career limbo.
In the end, you and only you, can determine whether or not you have compromised your talents and potential. If you have, you may be paying the bills buy not tapping into your unique abilities or being fulfilled. To quote Jimmy Dean, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
So tell me, do you want something more, and what are you prepared to do about 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?!