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Evaluating Your Job

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Evaluating Your Job

By Michelle Yozzo Drake

If I had a nickel...no, a PENNY for every time someone complained about the misery of their job, I would have a fortune that rivals Carlos Slim's! When I coach clients on their careers, the dissatisfaction they feel in their current positions is often a major focus of our first sessions. Sometimes I feel more like a career "therapist" than a coach because they confide in me and tell me all their job-related secrets! They reveal how they feel about the work they do, the inside scoop on the organization's environment, how they rate their supervisors, and what drives them crazy about their co-workers.

And all of the complaints they list add up to one big mess of "I hate my job." But "I hate my job" isn't going to solve anything, and I press my clients to dig deeper and analyze their jobs to find out the true root of their dissatisfaction. Once we identify this, we can then figure out a strategic solution to turn "I hate my job" into "I love my job."

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The first thing I ask my clients is, "What do you LIKE about your job?" - and I don't let them get away with answering, "Nothing." There has to be at least one positive thing: the paycheck, vacation time, unlimited access to the Internet, the coffee in the break room - SOMETHING. I tell my clients to create a list of every single positive thing about their job that they can think of, including what made them take the job in the first place.

Next, we use that list as a jumping off point to identify what they don't like about their jobs. They may like the paycheck but hate the lack of benefits. They may like working on projects but hate going to endless meetings. They may think their boss is wonderful but can't stand the co-worker in the next cubicle. Putting all of the negatives down on paper right next to the positives launches us right into the next step of the process: analysis.

My client and I examine this pro/con list as a whole - do the pros outweigh the cons? - and we evaluate each individual item as well. We prioritize: how important is each of these positives and negatives in relation to the job as a whole? How big a part does each play in the client's satisfaction/dissatisfaction? The coffee may be great, but in comparison to a lack of benefits, it means very little.  

The next step in analysis is looking at each of those negatives and determining if there is a viable solution. Is the organization open to re-evaluating their benefits policy? Could a strategic conversation with the boss spare you having to attend every meeting? Is there an empty desk somewhere far from that annoying co-worker? If there are solutions, I work with my clients to plot out a strategy for implementing them.

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But sometimes, we come to the conclusion that the best solution is to find a new job. Armed with the list of pros and cons of the current job, the client is better prepared to find a new job that will satisfy them. Without a thorough analysis of their current job, my clients run the risk of either a) quitting a job that can be saved and having to start from square one in a new organization, losing all of the effort they've put into their current company; or b) jumping from the proverbial "frying pan into the fire" and winding up in an equally miserable job.

I've found that my clients often realize that they don't really hate their jobs; they just need to make a few adjustments. Many of them are simply looking for more recognition or they're ready for new challenges and even positions higher up in the organization. Once they realize the root of their feelings of dissatisfaction, they're ready to approach their jobs from a new perspective and implement the strategies that will renew their zest for their work.

So the next time you start to complain about your horrible job, take a moment to really think about what makes it so "horrible" and if there is anything you can do about it - you might be surprised at the answers!

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"Spirit has fifty times the strength and staying-power of brawn and muscle.� � Mark Twain