Do you love your job? Hate it? Or would your answer lie somewhere in between?

Perhaps the response would depend on what you’re doing – in other words you love parts of your work, but hate others. Personally I think that might be the most appropriate answer for many of us, including myself. Take teachers, for example. They love teaching children, but aren’t too nuts about all the paperwork, including correcting homework. It’s why so many of them still substitute teach in retirement – they can instruct kids, but don’t have to deal with the rest of it!

Of course any of us probably has some part of our job we aren’t very crazy about, but we have to do it anyway. The question is, “What do you do when the bad parts start outweighing the good?” The obvious reply would be, “Find a new job.” If you’re in a field where your skills are in enough demand (or you’re networked enough) that it doesn’t take very long to find a new gig, consider yourself fortunate, because it isn’t always that simple for some of us. You put up a brave front to try to keep your employer from catching on that you aren’t happy… but the intuitive types might still see through the façade. What then? While you’ve been looking for a “new gig” you may not have found it before you’re let go. I know – I’ve been there. In some ways you’re relieved, but you still wish that leaving could have been on your terms.

Perhaps a better question is, “What led you to be so unhappy in your job to begin with?” office-worker_2218829bDid you get a new boss from the person who hired you? Did your job responsibilities drastically change? Were you promised advancement opportunities that never materialized? I’ve been stiffed on that one. Or maybe it’s something else?

You’ve probably heard the saying that, “people take a job because of the organization, but they quit because of the boss.” It’s all too true – and the tragedy is some of these employers could have kept you around had they been at least a little more appreciative of what you all do – and/or in some cases recognized that you would have been a better fit on a different job or department. I was told that very thing by the head of HR, that he wished he would have transferred me. I should have been more assertive about my need to do that, but I was still surprised he admitted it.

I think there are a few questions that need to be considered (and answered honestly) before moving on.

* Is there some way another staff person could do the parts of the job that drive you nuts, so you could focus more on what you like, and do, best? Maybe you hate clerical matters, but someone else likes and is good at those sorts of things. Or maybe you could job share? Two teachers did that at a school my wife taught at, and it seemed to work out great for them, as neither was as overwhelmed as an individual classroom teacher is more apt to be.
As opposed to personal likes and dislikes that a manager isn’t likely to give two hoots about, you could explain to a boss that allowing you to do the parts of your job you do best would enable you to be more productive, and ultimately make the company more successful.

* Will the grass really be greener elsewhere? Sometimes we convince ourselves that any place would be better than where we’re at. But don’t look at a different position with rose-colored glasses… be as objective as possible, because while it might feel GREAT at first to be working elsewhere, you are ultimately the person who has to live with the consequences… and after the honeymoon is over you might find that the new gig isn’t necessarily a better gig. (I’ve been there, too.)

* Be sure you’re leaving for the right reasons. This one certainly relates to the previous question. I’ve been guilty of taking a new job largely to get out of my current job, when the way I should have been looking at is focusing on whether it was definitely a better career opportunity. That doesn’t just mean pay and benefits, because if it’s only about the money, you might only be happy on payday. Consider things like: Would the new job offer career advancement you cannot find where you are at now? Would you be able to take on more of the responsibilities that you enjoy doing most? What is the work culture like? Does it look like a good fit? Talk to some people that work there before accepting the job.

In short, I’ve found that while I’ve seldom been passionate about my job all of the time…neither should you be despondent all that often either. When you are, it’s time to move on, but even then do it for the right reasons because you’re the person who will have to live with your decision. Good luck. I know I need it, and you might, too.

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