Depressed? Worried? Bored?
It’s a new month, it’s a new year. Heck, it’s even a new decade.
So it’s also time for new, positive emotions about work. It’s more than time to switch from negativity to excitement and enthusiasm.
Use the eclectic mix of big picture items and practical suggestions below as a starting point to enhance your work happiness and success.
Tip #1: Quell your social media anger
Whoo wee, there’s a lot of vitriol on social media. I was recently shown some ugly Facebook posts from one of my contacts. I was gobsmacked that this normally prim and proper person was sending such a negative message about herself to the world. It has dramatically altered my opinion of her and I will never think of her in the same way again.
It’s naïve to think that your current workmates or bosses let alone future employers won’t find out. Your friends ‘leak’ your content to the outside world and it is immensely damaging to your career.
I recently even saw this unfiltered anger pop up on LinkedIn, which is sheer folly, as it was there for all professional contacts to see. If you just can’t resist joining the village mob, at least restrict your ‘pitchfork’ to Facebook or Twitter.
Tip #2: Head off to a coffee shop and strategise for change
Find a place where your thoughts are likely to roam freely – evocative music, great coffee and a lovely outlook. List the top three changes…
- to the world of work (e.g. changes in language and behaviour that are now the norm or the impact of AI on job tasks)
- in your workplace (e.g. drive for cost reduction or emphasis on innovation)
- in your personal life (e.g. children about to enter a more expensive phase of life)
Just last week, a very astute client recounted significant changes in all the above areas. She had a clear plan with concrete timelines. It can be done. Plot out the response that you need/wish to make to cope with these changes.
Tip #3: Take a new broom to your job
Many people return from the end of year break just dreading the idea of starting again. There can be many reasons for this but one of them is that they are bored by their job.
Pull out your job description, if it’s up to date. If not, write out your own list of key tasks. Give each responsibility a ranking for satisfaction and also for importance.
Then carefully assess each task that shows up on the Black List. Perhaps some of the less important jobs no longer need to be done. Eliminating core but unpleasant tasks is a much harder ball game and you will need to get your boss on board with a persuasive business case and a pathway.
If there are too many items on the Dark Side, it’s time for serious action. As per my wise client, plan your escape from the job to a different role either internally or external to the business.
Tip #4: Meet with your boss to clarify aims for the year
Set up a formal meeting with clear agenda items but use a coffee shop as a venue to add a touch of warmth and informality. Refer to appropriate business documents such as the Strategic Plan, your PD or key department milestones.
This can serve two purposes. It sends a strong message to your boss that her needs are important to you. It ensures that you spend your energy and intellect on activities that meet her needs and (presumably) those of the organisation. And, if there has been any disconnect between you, it helps to re-establish a professional relationship.
Tip #5: Learn something new
Don’t be caught with an out of date technical skill set. At a minimum, stretch yourself a little by extending your current knowledge base. Move up the skill ladder to become an expert.
Consider trying something totally new. I can remember being blown away the first time I was exposed to double-entry bookkeeping. Exactly, why you debit an expense and credit a sale was a total mystery!
You’ll have more luck getting your organisation to pay by identifying a strategic linkage between the new skill and your current job responsibilities. If your workplace won’t foot the bill, there are free resources such as Lynda.com. And remember, coding is the new black!
Tip #6: Meet new people
Expand your network. The easiest way is to start with fellow work mates. Pick up the phone and ask someone in a different department for a 20 minute meeting. You will increase your knowledge about other parts of the business and you may well pick up allies who prove valuable in the future.
Then, extend this approach to people outside of the organisation. When you attend a training session or a conference, make a point of chatting to strangers. Initially, it feels slightly awkward but it does get easier. Plan ahead and have a few relevant points of discussion in mind. Stay up to date with local and international current affairs. At a minimum, talk about the event itself. The idea is to get the conversation flowing and leave room for future meetups and discussions.
Tip #7: Tune your voice
Have you ever stopped to think about what your voice is like? Do people enjoy listening to you or is your voice an assault on the senses? And if you don’t know, why not, when experts estimate that 38% of the impression we make on a stranger comes from our voice?
The critical issues tend to be:
- Pitch, with a common problem being an overly high, shrill sounding tone
- Light and shade, where it is recommended that you vary the loudness and softness of your words so that people are engaged
- Speed changes, where you slow down to signal to your listener that the next words are important
- Rising intonation, with a common issue of sounding uncertain and unsure by raising your voice in a questioning way at the end of every sentence
Find someone who can assess your voice. If you have multiple issues, choose the most serious issue first and eliminate that before moving on to the next one.
Tip #8: Keep up with current contacts
People you know are a great resource for both stimulation and growth. Their different perspectives and ideas can help you in your role and give you insights that you may not have otherwise thought of.
Typically, people underestimate the breadth of their networks. Use LinkedIn to identify those contacts with whom you’d like to keep a relationship going. Set up a regular schedule well in advance and then stick to it – no cancelling meetings at the last minute because of an ‘urgent’ work issue.
Approach each meeting in a positive frame of mind to avoid the all-too-common mutual Moan & Groan session where each person tries to win out in the tales of woe stakes. Offer something of value in return: helpful ideas are an excellent way to build your reputation for innovation.
It’s time to lose that heavy career weight you’re carrying around
So far this year, I’ve received more than my normal share of new clients who want to work through big career decisions. Perhaps it is the new decade that is galvanising them.
Whatever you do, don’t let your career changes fall by the wayside, like so many of our New Year resolutions to get fit or lose weight.
Choose the three most relevant items from the tips above. Find a support person to help you identify concrete actions with timelines and KPIs attached.
Then as per Nike, just do it!
And this time, my signature hashtag is 100% apt… #whynotbehappyatwork