In my coaching I come across so many stressed managers who are trying to balance their personal coping mechanisms, juggling constantly moving goal posts, with increasing numbers of stressed staff to manage, who have simply fallen out of love with their job. They have lost their motivation and can’t see any way forward, and even in these austere financial times with jobs being cut, they feel the only way forward is out, jumping into the abyss.
Do you recognise this?
This hate relationship with work has crept upon them inexorably, they often didn’t see it coming, and it is the consequence of an incremental build up of dissatisfaction. They feel trapped and for two pins would walk if they knew what they wanted to do instead.
The context for this is a background of private sector businesses and public sector organisations facing significant down-sizing to meet budget cuts, implementing new business models, and the aftermath of “letting go” of a whole generation of senior managers being.
Younger managers, too young to retire early are facing the reality that they may need to stick it out as things get worse, and they need to work through coping mechanisms to deal with uncertainty and fear of further job cuts, pressures caused by increasing workloads, and that distinct concern about where all this change is leading?
Coaching provides a safe environment to explore dilemmas and options, and in my experience can turn a distressed manager with no direction and low job satisfaction into a focused and happy person, and back in touch with their sense of purpose.
A useful starting point a disillusioned manager is to get back in touch with what you are looking for in your work; is it money, a sense of purpose, delivering quality products and services, intellectual stimulation, being valued, working as part of a team – what?
Slump in Job Satisfaction – I’m a firm believer that you get what you think about, so if you think all the time about how your job is “less” satisfying/interesting…. – it will be. Start by carrying out a mapping exercise on how you spend your time at work using a coaching wheel divided into segments is helpful to sort out the broad areas of work you spend time on. Then ask yourself what parts of your job you enjoy / don’t enjoy. Imagine that the spokes on your wheel can show a score, where 1/10 low satisfaction is near the middle and 10/10 high satisfaction is near the perimeter, mark out how satisfied you are with each of those areas of work on your wheel. Imagine the bumpy ride if this wheel was on your car, and the tyre followed the shape of your satisfaction scores.
You may have limited discretion on how much of each type of work comes your way, but if you can choose how you spend your time, think how can you spend more time on the work you enjoy? How can you increase your satisfaction for areas of work where the score is low? Might this be by working with colleagues, seeking support, or what else might you try?
My colleagues get me down – Poor team spirit in the workplace and listening to negative people is draining and it takes a lot for you to remind yourself of what you do like about your work situation. If you can, try to limit the time you spend with the complainers. If a colleague starts to unload, try to be neutral to avoid escalating their negativity and they make seek out someone else as an ally. Think whether the colleague is simply venting, or is there a cause for complaint, if you can, try to do something positive to address genuine concerns about the work environment or other grievance, and bring potential solutions to the right person’s attention.
I never get any credit and feel under-valued – An over critical manager is wearing, and is likely to increase your stress levels. Instead of wilting under the criticism, ask for their suggestions on how you might do a better job as you move forward? Seeking feedback from your manager on what they would like you to do differently will indicate to them that you want to improve your working relationship and performance. Keep your emotions out of your discussion if you can, and concentrate on practical ways of improving. But be wary that you may be reading more into the comments from you manager than is actually there. Many people are unwittingly distorting what people actually say by interpreting negativity that simply isn’t there. These cognitive distortions flow from limiting self beliefs, hidden rules that you judge yourself against, and the harsh chatter of your inner critic. Make sure that your conversation with your manager is based on facts, and not what you think your manager is thinking.
If your concerns are workload related, use your supervision sessions to flag up your concerns and seek guidance on how to allocate priorities, or whether you can gain assistance on some key tasks to hit the deadlines required.
Lack of meaning – Many jobs have a high content of repetitive activity, and it isn’t always possible to enrich your work, or spend time doing things that you enjoy. Remember that you are not defined by the work that you do, but by how you do it and your attitude while doing it. Find ways of bringing some passion into your work, even if it increases your workload. Consider where you can find greater satisfaction, and this may be through volunteering for getting involved in other activities at work, and if that isn’t possible, then looking outside the workplace for volunteering activity. Find out something that you care about, that challenges you and makes you feel good. Spread this positivity at work. It may un-lock team spirit in involving colleagues in supporting the voluntary activity.
Lack of career progression – Workforce re-shaping and management de-layering may have deleted the next logical steps in your career progression, and you feel stuck. To keep up your motivation, think about what new challenges exist in your work area, and across the wider organisation, and discuss with you manager whether you can take on any additional responsibility. Do you actually know all there is to know about your job role and could you learn more? Are there areas where you could look for improvement? Is secondment to another team a possibility, or could you be involved in some new projects? This is a good time to reflect on what you are looking for in your personal development, and drawing up your own action plan will put you back into the driving seat, looking forward for the next 2 years and 5 years, and mapping out some key milestones. Watch your language to see whether you are looking for a career step to “get away from” current dissatisfaction. Try to identify what you want to “move towards”. I am a firm believer that side-ways moves or what seem like backward steps can often be a key stepping stone to move forward, as long as you know the direction you are seeking to travel.
Take stock – What other jobs can you do with your current skills? What transferable skills do you have that might enable you to change your field. Where else can you apply? What is the relative remuneration in these posts? What might the drawbacks be of moving employer in terms of the relative convenience of getting to work, etc, pension benefits etc. Sometimes you need to make a comparison with what else is available in the market in order to appreciate your current role and work benefits.
Reflect on your career achievements to date, and how you have handled adversity. Talk to trusted colleagues to help you make sure you are realistic about your skills, and to refresh your cv. They can also help you avoid jumping “from the frying pan into the fire”. Listen and then make your own decisions.
Think about things in your current role that you are thankful for, try noting down every day for 1-2 weeks the positives in your current role. You might be surprised how noticing the positives increases the number of positives you find.
Square peg in a round hole – Volunteering or outside work activities might hold the secret of your passion or hidden talent that might be the beginnings of the career you really want. If you find a pursuit that makes you happy, do more of it, network with others and explore what opportunities may exist for you to make a career change. Research well. It’s never too late to make a career change, but you need to be aware of any training needs you need to address, and any risks (financial or otherwise) that this career change poses. Do you need additional finance, where will you get it? Have you developed a business plan?
In my experience, a lot can be done through coaching to address these career concerns, and you can fall back in love with your work and regain your “mojo”. I work with my clients using a variety of coaching techniques – check out my testimonials!
What to know more? Please contact me.