I have always had an open-door policy. Except now, I work in an open office and have no door – or desk – so it’s now more of a “grab-a-chair-and-sit-here” policy. It works for me. People know where to find me or they send an IM asking where I am today. Sometimes it’s about a situation they are dealing with and they want to discuss options, other times it’s to ask me about something they know I had been involved with previously.
Once, in one of our manufacturing plants, where I was the HR Manager for the facility, I guy named Todd stood in the door and asked me “You’re in charge of morale around here, right?”
“Mine, yes. No one else’s.” He then proceeded to tell me all the things we were doing that demotivated people. Well, him specifically, and he assumed everyone else.
I’ve worked with my share of people who were not happy in their work. There have been times where my work didn’t quite suit me, either. But I never expected that it was someone’s job to make sure I was happy, satisfied, or (sorry, I hate to say it) engaged. If the work itself or the people I had to work with didn’t sit right with me, then it was time to move on to something else.
I know that might sound ingenuous coming from someone who has spent 38 years with their employer. But it’s true. I’ve never been dissatisfied with my employer, just the circumstance of my work from time to time. In those 38 years, I’ve had 3 different career paths, and, at last count, 14 different jobs. I realize that working for a large company, there are many more opportunities to change jobs without leaving. But the process is the same. You realize it’s time for something else and you start looking.
Here’s a few things I recommend to anyone who is not happy in the work they are doing:
- Get in touch with your past work self and figure out what you have truly enjoyed. What type of work? What type of environment?
- Read “The Three Boxes of Life, and How To Get Out Of Them“. Written by the famed Richard Bolles – who recently passed away – this is a book that truly changed how I thought about work.
- Be open with your leader if you see other work in your organization you would be interested in. If they don’t listen, then figure out your path to work you would rather do.
- If leaving your employer is just not an option for you due to family or geographic constraints, then you may need to focus on the parts of work you truly enjoy and look forward to, and bear with the parts that might be a little soul-killing. I don’t like when I have to deliver bad news to an employee, but it is part of my job.
- Make sure you are open with your spouse, partner, or best friend about your interests. Someone who will help you get your vision right and will be a support for your potential challenges if the change becomes difficult.
Remember, work is a part of life – not life itself.