Do you go to work each day feeling excited and thinking you know your purpose and direction?
If you answered “no” or “not really” then don’t worry, you are not alone. It probably means that you are either feeling unhappy at work or that your career has stalled.
If indeed you are not enjoying work, or not sure how to progress your career, you may have feelings of dread, uncertainty, loss, frustration or anxiety. You probably don’t have a sense of your purpose and are unable to clearly see a way out or ahead. Feeling this way, the personal cost, is sometimes referred to as “situational depression”.
On top of the personal cost, there is the economic impact. Recent research by Gallup informs us that around 2 out of every 3 employees are not engaged at work and nearly 1 in 5 are actively disengaged. More than half of disengaged employees are women. The cost to the economy annually is A$70 billion, which is staggering.
It is not uncommon for people to seek solace from their workmates to share and vent their frustration. Those colleagues who lend a sympathetic ear are often experiencing similar feelings and thoughts as well and so happy to agree with your sentiments. This is not helpful. It will not solve the problem and will only add fuel to the fire.
So, what can you do to turn the situation around so that you can find more joy in what you do?
It will depend upon each individual situation, but a good starting point is to reflect on where you have been, the career decisions you have made and why, and what would you do differently to avoid landing where you are today. In doing so, try to pinpoint and prioritise the root causes of your situation and the effect it is having on you at work and in your personal life.
For example, the way you currently feel at work may be due to one or more of the following:
- Misalignment of personal values with those of the company or your manager;
- The culture is not what was described to you by your manager or the recruitment team when you were hired;
- You cannot clearly see what your contribution is doing for the business;
- Your manager is ineffective or difficult to deal with;
- You have no clear sense from your manager of what your next role in the company is;
- You are not receiving feedback from your manager on your contribution, potential and performance;
- You feel micro-managed by your manager and not empowered;
- Your ideas and thinking are not valued by your manager.
You may have noted that “your manager” is a common denominator in many of the causes for being unhappy at work or being career stuck. There is the old saying “people quit managers, not jobs”. The relationship between you and your manager is often the cause, but also the key to resolving the issues and unleashing your true potential.
By being honest with yourself about why you are disengaged at work and then addressing and resolving the issue/s, you will be strongly positioned to better appreciate your purpose and direction. This may mean having some difficult conversations, but the outcomes are worth it and you will be back on the right track for your journey to greatness.