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How to Make Your Current Job Work

A Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance E-Course

Okay, well maybe you DON’T love your job…
Maybe you are feeling increasingly unhappy about your job? Maybe you find yourself day dreaming about other things you could do with the time you spend at work? Maybe you dread the thought of Monday mornings? Maybe then, it is time for you to quit your job. Or, on the other hand, you could address the issues you dislike about your current job. Without leaving your job, you may be able to solve the problems and make your current job work.

Determine Why You Are Unhappy in Your Current Job
Do you dislike the work you do day-to-day? Or, are there other problems that affect how you feel about your job? If you like the work and you can pinpoint other issues as the problem, consider what you can do to resolve these problems BEFORE you quit your job.

Six Common Problems that Make People Feel Unhappy at Work
The following slides cover the 6 common reasons that make people want to quit their job. See if you can find your reasons and use the advice provided to turn your work situation around. Good jobs are difficult to find. You don’t want to make a hasty decision or burn any bridges until you have thoughtfully considered all your options. You may be able to make your job work.

Reason #6:
Are you feeling stuck in your current position with no hope of promotion? Do you look around your organization and not see any job you’d like to do next? 1. Talk to your boss to make sure you aren’t missing something. 2. Ask about opportunities for lateral moves and for more interesting, skill-stretching assignments. 3. Most workplaces value initiative and people who want to continue to learn and grow.

Reason #5:
You work hard everyday, but you don’t feel your boss or workplace recognize your efforts. You can’t remember the last time anyone thanked you for your contributions. You can try to resolve this reason by:
1. Simply Asking. Tell your boss you would like his/her input about how he/she views your work. 2. Offer to chair an employee recognition team that can develop a process for recognizing the hard work and efforts of all your coworkers. If you are feeling unappreciated, others may also feel that way. 3. Ask your manager for a raise. Sometimes feeling unappreciated has to do with money. Ask when you can expect a compensation review if it isn’t possible at that time. Make sure to follow up to make sure it happens.

Reason #4:
If you feel overworked, you may be overworked. Employers have cut back on hiring & are expecting employees to do more with fewer resources. But before you cry “overworked” – make sure to evaluate the situation from an employer’s perspective. For example – if there used to be 5 people working the register, taking and filling orders, but now there are less customers – there has to be a way to balance that. Maybe 5 people are too many, now the employer is overstaffed and is bringing in less revenue while paying out more.

You can…Talk with your employer, you may find that the job is indeed more work than one person can comfortably handle. Brainstorm with your boss, maybe they can hire a new employee, assign a part-time employee or intern to work with you, identify different tasks you can stop doing, and determine the value-added tasks and eliminate noncritical job tasks. Take time to flowchart your work processes and see where you have wasted time in the process - Are you doing rework? How does extra time or steps make your work more difficult and time-consuming?

Reason #3:
Sometimes, people discover that they have chosen the wrong career or field of work. They dislike the activities and the actual content of the job. For example, someone might get their CNA license because they think it’s a great field and something they could achieve quickly. However, once in the job, they realize that they really don’t like taking care of people. Now what? If you fundamentally do not like the work, consider these actions: 1. Spend a year exploring your career options & needs. 2. Meet with people already working in the fields you are exploring. 3. Determine education or credentials necessary to move on. 4. Research all aspects of the job and make a careful plan with a timeline, and move on.

Reason #2:
Maybe you like your work, but dislike your current employer, coworkers, or customers. Explore your options to move on to a different employer. Make sure it is really due to the actions of others – like, maybe your employer is unethical or your coworkers are all miserable and constantly complain about their work. Look closely for a pattern in your own actions. For example, do you repeatedly start out at a new job & location but quickly become disappointed? If you identify a pattern, the unhappiness may be in you. If the unhappiness is inside of you, only YOU can make you feel better and make your job work.

Start out by exploring whether you have any control over any situation bothering you. If you identify areas you can control, try fixing them. Perhaps sitting in the break room listening to people complain is ruining your good spirits. Stay out of there for awhile to see if your outlook improves.

Reason #1:
When managers are nasty, abusive, and controlling it is easy to understand. However, there are also more subtle things that some managers do to drive away employees. These include: • Not providing direction • Involving other people in decisions about work • Not appreciating staff contributions • Not helping to develop the talents and abilities of their employees. If you find yourself in this situation, try these actions: • Talk to your manager about your concerns. Many people don’t realize the effect their actions have on others. • If you are planning on leaving anyway, talk with your manager’s boss or your Human Resources department to see if they can remedy the situation. • Transfer to a different department. Try to remove yourself from the manager’s influence.

Other Reasons for Wanting to Quit… but don’t quit just yet!
Is your job interfering with family responsibilities?
Is your commute getting to you because it’s so long or costly? You can think about Alternative Work Options – like, Flextime, Job Sharing, and Telecommuting.

All of these options offer you more flexibility in your day-to-day schedule.

Alternative Work Options:
Flextime allows an employee to select the hours he or she will work. There are usually specified limits set by the employer. Employees on a flexible schedule may work a condensed work week or may work a regular work week. Those working a condensed schedule may work four 10-hour days, rather than five 8-hour days. Those who work a five-day week may work hours other than the typical “9 to 5”.

Alternative Work Options:
Job Sharing is a flexible work arrangement where the responsibilities of a full-time position are split between two people. This arrangement is good for when personal responsibilities prevent someone from working full-time but full-time benefits are still needed. The salary is split between the two employees, but benefits can be offered on a prorated basis where the two employees’ benefits equal the cost of one person.

Alternative Work Options:
Telecommuting is a term that is also interchangeable with a more current term –”Teleworking”. There is a trend in today’s job market to work from home. Most people who “telework”, work out of their home on an average of 2 to 3 days per week and go in to the main office on the other days of the week. There are many benefits for both the employee and employer. Most jobs do not start out as telework, but check with your HR department to see if your company offers a program. Working from home can help you, your family, and the environment.

Other Reasons for Wanting to Quit… but don’t quit just yet!
You received an unsatisfactory performance review. Ok, so you received an unsatisfactory performance review. Does that mean you have to quit your job? Wait, don’t quit yet! Take this as a learning opportunity. You should be able to take away valuable information – whether it is about yourself or your reviewer.

The best defense is a good offense.
Be prepared. Become familiar with the review process. Understand why and how your employer uses the review process. Prepare for an upcoming review by documenting your achievements and, most importantly, make sure you document how your performance has benefitted the company. After your review, if you are unhappy with the results, take a deep breath and wait until you are able to be objective before you say anything or respond. Then use clear examples that respond to the criticisms made and make an appointment to talk with your reviewer.

Other Reasons for Wanting to Quit… but don’t quit just yet!
Your employer established some new policies with which you’re unhappy with.
Change is difficult. You need to figure out whether your unhappiness with your employer’s new policies stems from your resistance to change or if you truly feel the new policies are bad for the company. If you find that it is the policies, then you should approach your boss about your worries. Be prepared to present a clear underlying principle along with suggestions for improvements. If it is you that fears change, then you need to decide how you will work through it. No matter where you work, there will be policies. If you quit this job and go to another, what if you don’t like their policies? You cannot keep quitting jobs; you will have to make the choice to do something different. You will have to take responsibility to change your perspective.

Talking to Your Boss in a Meeting You Requested

No matter what you are going to talk to your boss about, you need to know HOW to talk to your boss, WHAT NOT to say, and how to keep your job.
There are several things you will need to do before you meet with your boss List what you would like to discuss with your boss - write “I want to discuss this, or ask this and this.” It is important that when you do meet with your boss that you are focused and well spoken. Having everything already written down will help you stay on track and be articulate. The last thing you want to do is to meet with your manager and babble on and on. Your boss will feel that you are not a good communicator – which will hurt you chances of getting whatever you are looking for accommodated, as well as seemingly waste your boss’ time.

Talking to Your Boss in a Meeting You Requested

Present yourself clearly and make sure you are confident in what you want to say. Talking to the boss about anything can feel intimidating so you may need to rehearse what you are going to say, in addition to writing it down.
It is very important to be positive when meeting with your boss. Attitude, whether positive or negative, comes across in many different ways. From the tone of your voice and the words you use to the way you hold your body is all essential to the success of the discussion. Make sure you use qualifying words, such as “perhaps” and “maybe”, rather than absolute words, like “always”, “every”, “all the time” and “never”. Avoid going to meet with your boss when you are emotional. Don’t blame others or talk badly about co-workers, and use “I” statements. All these tips can help you be a more clear communicator.

Talking to Your Boss in a Meeting You Requested

When you meet with your boss, look them in the eye when you greet them while you are explaining what is on your mind it is acceptable to glance away. Looking someone in the eye lets them know you are honest & trustworthy, that you have nothing to hide or lie about. It is ultimately about establishing mutual respect.
It is important to watch your body language when you are having the discussion with your boss – from the moment you enter their presence to when you leave it. Even though you may mind your tone and words, body language can speak louder than both! Be sincere, look at your boss when they are speaking, lean into the conversation, and be an active listener. Avoid fidgeting and don’t cross your arms or point your finger for these actions speak volumes about your willingness to have a positive outcome.

Tips on Talking to the Boss About:
So, how do you tell your boss you don’t like your job? You DON’T!

Even if you have a great relationship with your boss or manager and you walk into their office to tell them why you don’t like your job with the best intentions, as well as offering improvements, you could be walking out of their office being labeled with a “bad attitude” and that you are not happy with the company.
Once your boss or manager has this perception of you, it is hard to shake it and could ultimately put your job at risk. Don’t tell your boss or manager that you don’t like your job; instead, tell them what you like about your work and ask for more of that type of work.

Tips on Talking to the Boss About:
Telling your boss what you like versus don’t like isn’t as easy as it sounds. You see, you have to know what you like about your work! So, this approach has 3 steps: 1. Know what parts of your job you really like doing – and are GOOD at doing! Sometimes those are two different things, so make sure what you like doing aligns with what you are good at doing.

2. Determine what else you like doing that you are not doing now as part of your job description. Ask if these activities added to your job…it is positive to an employer’s ears that you want more work.
3. Once you have determined what stuff you like doing, what else you want to do, and what you are good at doing, then ask if you can do more of these things. Asking for more work is better than saying you don’t like your job. Over time, you will have stronger performance reviews because you are working from your strengths on the job.

Tips on Talking to the Boss About:
In the current economic climate, companies have had to cut back on employees and yet they are firmly focused on growth after these difficult times. All of this translates to heavier work loads and more work per employee. What can you do to cope with this before your head explodes? Executive and leadership coaches recommend talking to your boss. Follow some of the steps below to ensure successful results. First, make sure you don’t complain if you are the root of your problems. If you tend to put things off or have other work habits that prevent you from getting your work done, you can’t expect your supervisor to be sympathetic to your plight. You have to “earn the right” to tell your boss you are swamped. Even if your performance is good, you shouldn’t bring up the subject of feeling overburdened out of the blue.

Tips on Talking to the Boss About:
You should have ongoing conversations with your boss about your priorities, goals, performance, and workload. Steady and honest communication -keep your boss informed because it is a valuable tool in combating heavy workloads: If your boss knows what’s on your plate, he or she will be less inclined to add more. You can’t simply say that you have too much work – that makes you look like a victim. You want to be seen as a leader, so instead of complaining, negotiate current and new assignments. Come to the table with concrete examples AND alternative solutions to the current work on your plate. Second, set hard boundaries about your work hours and availability. These boundaries will help keep work from leaking into other parts of your life which should help keep you from becoming overwhelmed and creating additional stress.

Tips on Talking to the Boss About:
When problems arise at work, people often want to head straight to the boss’s office to get them straightened out. Coworker squabbles, project mishaps, unfair policies, annoying coworkers’, personality traits – these are all issues your manager is asked to handle. Before you take your complaint to the boss, make sure you know exactly what you want and figure out the best way to say it – otherwise, your boss might think you are a whiner and the problem won’t be addressed. Here are some suggestions to consider before taking the issue to your boss.

Tips on Talking to the Boss About:
1. Evaluate – do a cost/benefit assessment. First, weigh the pros and cons of taking the problem to your manager. Can he/she really do anything about it? Will he/she expect you to be able to handle it on your own? Will he/she mad and retaliate later? Do you actually expect action or do you just want to complain? If you cannot see a clear benefit to involving your boss, then don’t. Lose the emotion. If you are upset about an issue, calm down before talking to your manager. Bosses do not want to wade through four layers of feelings before getting to the problem. So if you are angry or emotional, don’t go storming into your manager’s office. Take a few deep breaths or vent to a friend outside of work. When you talk to your boss, you need to be calm and in a businesslike frame of mind.



Consider the management point of view. Before taking an issue to any boss, you need to consider how it looks from their level. Don’t expect them to automatically take your side or see it your way. Bosses are usually focused on the big picture, the bottom line, and the need for coworkers to cooperate – you need to think the same way.

Tips on Talking to the Boss About:
4. Decide what you want your boss to do. Never take any problem to your boss without also presenting a possible solution or a request for a specific action. Managers absolutely hate it when employees just dump problems in their lap. So, before bringing up an issue, make sure you know exactly how you would like your boss to help. 5. Present the business case. Whatever the problem, you need to determine how it relates to business issues. Managers are usually concerned about customers, quality, teamwork, and financial results. When talking with your boss, explain how the problem is negatively affecting one of those factors. 6. Focus on facts. Do NOT complain about others’ personality traits, make unsubstantiated assumptions, or inject your personal feelings into the issue. You need to be able to describe the situation in a completely factual manner. 7. Look forward, not backward. The main purpose of going to your boss is to create a better future, not to complain about the past. Use information from the past to help your cause, but stay focused on what needs to be done to correct the problem.

Tips on Talking to the Boss About:
Requesting a raise can make any worker’s palm sweat. Here is some advice from Robert Half International that can help the next time you need to ask for a raise – especially if you have been thinking about quitting. If you want a raise, you should do the following before talking to you’re boss about it… Self-audit: It is important to build a case for why you deserve an increase in pay. Prepare a list of recent accomplishments that show how you’ve helped increase profits, improved efficiencies, or saved costs to support your cause. Be as specific as possible. Comparison shop: Do some research. Find out how much other individuals with your qualifications are being paid in the local market/area. Many career websites, professional associations, and staffing services provide such information about current compensation trends.

Tips on Talking to the Boss About:
Timing is everything: It is especially important to pick the right time to speak with your boss. Make sure that your company can afford to offer raises! If your company is laying off people or cutting services they offer…it is NOT the time. If that is not the case and your company is doing well, then make your boss aware of what you would like to talk about when you request the meeting. You never want to catch your boss off-guard. Be professional: Most important, during the meeting, keep the conversation friendly, even if you don’t see eye to eye. After all, in the end, the discussion is between two colleagues working on a single problem: how to best compensate your hard work.

Simple Ways to Make Work Better: Different Advice, Same Message
Never mind Monday morning – does every day at work get you down? Well, most of us can’t just quit our jobs…but we can do little things to make work better. There are different resources and different suggestions, but the message is the same. Only you can make YOU happy! Your happiness is in your hands. The next several slides will offer you advice on how to make your work better and be happy, regardless of what is going on. It can’t hurt, just give some a try!

Simple Ways to Make Work Better: The Little Things
Get a Lava lamp and some green plants to put on your desk at work. Both are scientifically proven to reduce stress and improve health on the job. The motion of the lamp is visually relaxing, and green plants increase job satisfaction by providing a sense of rest. Research shows that having plants in your office is more beneficial than having a window!

Simple Ways to Make Work Better: Spend Time With the “Right People”
Unfortunately, they generally are not your coworkers even though you spend most of your time with them. The people that make you happiest will generally be friends, family, and romantic partners. That’s why one of the most powerful influences of general happiness is whether or not someone has a “best friend” at work and regardless of whether they like their boss. Avoid small talk. Generally, small talk is a source of unhappiness for most people and most work relationships seem to involve a great deal of it. If you want to increase your happiness, it’s far better to find one or two colleagues with whom you can have a real discussion than to engage in small talk around the water cooler.

Simple Ways to Make Work Better: Take a Deep Breath
Breathing correctly is not only important for living longer but also to have a good mood and keep performing your best. There are many benefits associated with the practice of deep breathing. It can release tension and relieve emotional pain. When you are tense, angry, scared, or stressed your muscles tighten up and your breathing becomes shallow. So, when your breathing is shallow you are not getting the amount of oxygen that your body needs. Deep breathing gives your brain oxygen which reduces anxiety.

Breathe slowly, deeply, and purposefully into your body. Think about the areas you feel are tight and breathe into them. As you relax your body, you may find that breathing brings clarity and insights to you as well which will help you to let go.

Simple Ways to Make Work Better: Thinking Happy Thoughts at Work
The simplest of all ways to be happy is to think happy thoughts at work. There are positive skills to help extract career or personal success from tough situations. The emphasis is on inner happiness and controlling your own mood using ways that go beyond the traditional positive-thinking approaches.

Try some of these tactics to cultivate happy thoughts at work:
• • Write emails to your coworkers every day thanking them for something they have done. Meditate daily to clear your mind.

• •

Do something for somebody without expecting anything in return.
Write in a journal about things you are thankful for. Focus on the process of your work, which you can control, rather than outcomes, that you can’t.

Don’t label events as good or bad; remain open to positive outcomes of even the most seemingly negative events.

Make Your Current Job Work
Even if your job isn’t your dream job, it still provides you and your family with money, health insurance, the ability to pay your bills, and possibly save.

Stay in the moment and remember that the responsibility to yourself and your family beats being unemployed any time.
Can you start working towards your dream? Sure.

Can you make slow, deliberate change to recreate your life? Sure.
Does that mean you have to quit your job and declare your freedom to be a success? Absolutely not. If you don’t like your job, try some of the suggestions in this course. If you determine you need a different job, start planning. What would it take to find another job or to work for yourself? It might take a year or more to be in a position to make that kind of change, so why not start your search and make your plan.

Thank you for participating in this Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance E-Course.