Feeling Frustrated at Work? Here Are 5 Things to Remember
Contributed by Ade Akins
You have a job but it isn't stimulating you. You don't just hate Mondays, you hate the whole damn work week. You've contemplated taking up smoking just to earn more breaks away from your desk. Many of us have been there, in fact, the fact that you're reading this article would mean there's a good chance you're in this very position now. If anyone would know what this feels like, it's myself.
From my own experience, here are 5 things to remember when you're feeling frustrated at work.
1. Don't be a complainer, be a doer
I have 0 sympathies for people that can moan and complain about their frustrations at work but are not willing to do anything about it. You have to actively try and rectify your current situation if you are hoping to improve it, otherwise please just keep silent.
2. Pin-point the source of your frustration
Easier said than done at times but you need to take the time to think about exactly why you are feeling the way you're feeling. Are you not growing in your role? Are you being over-worked? Is your manager bullying you? Are you not being compensated properly for the work you're doing?
A really good exercise I once did at work was to create a simple graph with a vertical and horizontal axis. Along the bottom line, label the job title of a previous position you've held. Along the vertical line, go from 0- Hated it, up to 10- Absolutely loved it. Then, as if it were a rollercoaster, draw a line to represent the spikes and lows in each of your time in the role and repeat this for as many roles as you like. Naturally, there will be certain roles with more highs than lows and vice versa.
The aim of this is to make you think about the why. For example, what was it about the role that caused you to feel good at the start but eventually made you hate it? Annotate each of your graphs with the aspect of the role that contributed to your score. From this, I personally discovered that some of my low times were times of being micromanaged and not having the freedom to succeed. In contrast, many of my high points had thriving social environments with a team attitude (even if I didn't like the actual work at hand). Once you know your why, you will have a deeper understanding of your feelings which will help you make more confident decisions.
3. Being comfortable is sometimes good, being complacent is never
I have a saying: "nothing revolutionary ever came from someone being comfortable". I believe there needs to be a sense of something not being right in order for progress to be made. However, do I think you should deliberately shake things up if your job is going well and you have a strong sense of job security? Of course not!
The danger for many is that sometimes we can get very complacent with our seemingly secure jobs and take our foot off the pedals. You start being very lax with your job and let your lack of engagement be known (either directly or indirectly). Nothing is ever 100% secure when it comes to employment. Since 2011, I've been involved in 4 corporate restructures and been made redundant. Most of us are very replaceable, the second you get too comfortable could be the day a lack of enjoyment at work could become a lack of employment altogether. Stay woke!
4. It's time to take action
If you believe there is a future at your current employer, perhaps in a different or more senior role or maybe your current role once you address the friction, it's time to do something. Be very clear on what you're intended outcome is and set up a conversation with the relevant stakeholder (line manager, director, HR, etc) to have a conversation in the right environment for it.
Caution: think very carefully about the way in which you do this because you do not want to be perceived as a complainer, especially if your actual intention is to stay. Come equipped with tangible examples and possible solutions you've identified.
On the other hand, if you believe it's time to stretch your wings elsewhere, start looking! Reach out to recruiters, have a look around Linkedin (where I found my current role) and relevant job sites and begin to test the waters. Be wary also of just applying for jobs for the sake of it as you will quickly find yourself in another position of job frustration.
Remember what I said earlier about being complacent? Particularly in this situation, you do not want to be perceived as being demotivated and unenthusiastic whilst you figure out your next move. That is a bad perception for your current employer to have and the working world is extremely small - your reputation will precede you! Be professional and discreet and ideally, tell nobody about your plans.
5. Look for the silver lining - there always is one!
Having a job provides a sense of security that most will not appreciate until they experience what it's like to live without it. No matter how dreadful your current job may feel at times, I don't believe there's any such thing as a bad work experience. There are some roles we need to experience to know just what we don't want to do and even then, I am confident there's always transferable skills and learnings to be had. Bills do not pay themselves and those soft perks you get at work shouldn't be overlooked either.
Note- the grass isn't always greener on the other side, it's also green where you water it.
There’s a fine balance between doing what you have to do and doing what you love to do and it’s a very subjective assessment. It's up to you and you alone to take ownership for this and work out exactly how you feel, why you feel that way and what you need to do next. Whatever you do decide to do, just make sure you do something!