You never really know how much dirt you’re living with until you get a new vacuum cleaner. Am I right?
There you were, pushing that old machine all over your house, feeling rather smug that you were very neat and tidy. But then the old Hoover conks out and you replace it with a modern, technologically advanced vacuum and are astounded at how fast the bag fills up as you go over what you previously thought was a very clean house.
Of course, this is both something that happened to me and an apt metaphor. Isn’t that always the way?
So here’s what I see from my perch over here as your executive coach:
I see a bunch of you sticking it out in difficult, toxic, almost unbearable jobs. Sure, you can convince yourself that all is well, and that it’s not possible for anything to change.
But you’d be wrong. And, I’ll further bet that when you get the equivalent of a new vacuum, you’ll see just how dirty the whole thing really is.
Now, I’m not suggesting a mass resignation on the part of all of my readers.
While it would be fun to watch – sorta like a flash mob! – it’s not very realistic.
Over the years, I’ve helped people find a new way to manage difficult situations at work, and – let me tell you – it can be very rewarding to turn around a tough one. To go from feeling dread at the ding of the elevator on your floor to actually kind of liking it – amazing.
Oh, you doubt it can happen? Don’t doubt, sugar – I’ve seen it. Plenty of times, in fact.
So, shall we get to the how? How do you turn it around?
First, let me say one thing. There are just three factors which you need to consider when evaluating how much your job sucks: people, learning and money. If one or more of these things are good, or even great, you’ll probably be able to find some happiness in your job. If all three suck, the job likely sucks.
So, to turn around a sucky situation, take a look at these three factors and see if you can shift any one of them. Could you take on a project so you can boost your learning in your role? Or take on a new attitude and attack old tasks with a new, learner’s fervor?
Could you find new people to associate with? Transfer to a different department? Conversely, if the only reason you’re staying is because of the people, but the money is bad and there is no learning – take a deep thought and ask yourself, “If, in five years, everything has stayed the same, how will that feel?” Act accordingly.
And money. Always the old bugaboo – money. If you are underpaid for your role, there is but one thing you can do – ask for more. Now, people will say, “in this economy, blah blah blah”. But when your organization posts record profits, or gets a huge new foundation grant, it’s really hard for the brass to say with a straight face, “We’re broke.” Time your raise request to coincide with good news and make sure you have three strong examples of how your work impacted that healthy bottom line. Without some tangible achievements to back up saying “I deserve a raise”, your request is likely to be met with a profound “so what”.
Especially if your boss is a jerk. [see “people” above]
Now, my friend, let me say this: if you are in the truly icky situation of working with unpleasant people in a tedious and soul-sucking role you have down pat and fully memorized, and you’re also working for peanuts – then it is time to look for something new. Oh, yeah, you’ll tell yourself “in this economy, blah, blah, blah” but that’s like telling yourself your vacuum works perfectly well. When you know it doesn’t.
Because… dust bunnies.
Sometimes, when it comes down to it, the best possible thing you can do for yourself is to get a clean, fresh start. A new machine. With great power. And ergonomic controls that feel designed just for you. Oh, and it comes complete with a brand, spanking new HEPA filter.
Use that crevice tool, folks. It’s time for a thorough, clean sweep.