Being unhappy at work is never fun. There are 101 genuine reasons why leaving a company behind and looking for new opportunities is the right thing to do. But, similarly, it isn’t always the right thing to do.
Work dissatisfaction can hit us from a number of different angles; lack of challenge, toxic working environments, limited career progression opportunities to name but a few. And in the same way that the circumstances are always different in each individual case, so are the solutions to the problem. And yet, so often when we find ourselves in this situation, it is easy to be overpowered by a knee-jerk reaction which yells “LEAVE” at the top of its voice.
Whilst in most (but certainly not all) cases, the decision to leave a company is best implemented when that individual has another job to go to, there is thinking that needs to happen before this new job search even starts. Put simply, we are not always very good at exploring ways of improving our current work situation yet this is often where the best solutions for career improvements lie.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve worked with clients whose work unhappiness stems from one individual. Bullying and undermining the work of others is, sadly, rife and often, I will add, a reflection on the bully’s own work underperformance. If you are in this situation, try and position yourself away from this person. Form allies. Restrict (if you can) the contact you have with them. Subtle shifts can make a big difference. If this is a colleague rather than a superior, speak to your line manager who may well be aware of the situation and can address the situation in a way they feel fit. If your nemesis is the line manager, then speak to HR. You may not be the first person to voice these concerns.
Boredom at work can lead to a lack of professional confidence and even depression. Stagnation can be hard to climb out from, but do it by setting yourself new challenges. Think back to your happier times within the organisation. What made them better for you? How can you emulate that now? Sitting back and doing nothing is unlikely to improve your situation. Start being the master of your own destiny.
Line managers are often the first accused in these situation and, in many cases, rightly so. But they are not mind-readers so unless you voice your concerns, or clarify your ambitions to get involved in new things, they can’t really be blamed. Take the initiative to book a meeting to discuss how you are feeling. Sometimes there are solutions but nobody has joined the dots properly or verbalised their needs. You want training? Ask for it. You want to get involved in a new project that is coming up within the department? Speak up! Your boss is likely to be so bogged down with their own concerns that, without this, change is unlikely to happen.
Networking isn’t just something that happens when you are looking to move companies. It should be an ongoing part of your career within an organisation. Career dissatisfaction can be challenged and overcome by, for example, a change of team or a completely new role within a new department. So network hard within your organisation and seek out the people who are well positioned to help you. It is always a good idea to find yourself a mentor - preferably someone who has ‘been there, done that’ and has useful links and authority within the company. This could be your route to positive change.
So, while leaving for pastures new may seem appealing, staying put but shifting the conditions of your work can often be easier and perhaps more beneficial in the future. Personal experiences within a company can often be a rollercoaster of good and not-so-good times. Learning effective coping strategies for when times are tough may just help you to ride out the storm and see it through to the other side.
Momentum Careers Advice is based in St Albans, Hertfordshire but works with clients, via skype, throughout the UK and beyond. Initial careers consultations cost £60. Mock interviews cost £50.