USA TODAY, recently ran a full-page article of Kerry Hannon’s book Love Your Job. She rightfully quotes the latest stats that just 30% of the American workforce is engaged at work. She goes on to relay that most people either don’t want to leave for another career or are simply putting in time to protect income and health insurance.
That’s a fine kettle of fish! So if leaving is not in the cards and merely putting up with work to collect a paycheck are the only options, I conclude 70% of the workforce are doomed!!
Unless… unless they begin to take charge of their own ecosystem and self-management. That’s what resiliency is all about. It is not about settling. It’s about stirring the pot.
- Stir your imagination. That’s right: think more broadly about what you could do that would stretch your skills, add to your interest AND provide value for the organization. You might need a series of other “imagineers” who would help you consider possibilities. Make sure the people you ask are not those recognized as naysayers and whiners.
- Beware of your negative imagination. That’s the voice that will tell you why everything is bad, why it won’t work, and on and on and on. Listen to your imagineers without judgment.
- Ask. If you don’t ask, you can’t get. Don’t assume that your manager has any clue about what would re-engage your spirit. Mindreading, as far as I can tell, is only found in Vegas shows.
- Think contribution. Research continually demonstrates that people who help others are far happier than those who are only internally focused. Help might be assisting a colleague, mentoring a new employee (and asking them to teach you something in return) or it could even be as simple as giving out a smile or making someone laugh. That could actually be a huge contribution to someone’s day. Big Sam was the all-around maintenance man for an assisted living center. His hugs were gigantic and welcomed. Sure, he could fix the garbage disposal in the kitchen but it was the way he dispensed caring that mattered the most to family and residents.
- Leave well. Years ago, I was giving a seminar on difficult people. An older woman in the audience stood up and proclaimed how she worked for nothing but miserable people, how bad her job was, the company stunk, etc. etc. “In two years, I’ll retire and be out of there,” she sneered as she looked around the room. I suggested she really had two choices. She could continue her negative discourse about every one and everything so that when she did leave, people would say, “Thank goodness she is gone!” Or, she could figure out how to make herself so useful and other-focused so that when she left, colleagues would miss her deeply. Her choice.
My hope is that these simple ides prove useful. Just try one. For more in-depth ideas I have a recommendation. Colleagues Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans wrote a marvelous, simple, action-packed book with 26 ways to get what you want at work. If you work for other folks, Love It, Don’t Leave It belongs on your desk.
What have you tried that turned work around for you IF you were in a place where you felt you could not leave? Let’s chat!
This article was previously published on Eileen’s blog, and is reprinted with permission.