When Your Job and Career Stops Working For You…Now What?
Organizations Change: For Better or For Worse
Your workplace and job may be changing, but not in ways you had hoped.
Many organizations today are going through complex changes, as a result of economic factors, globalization and increased use of various technologies.
Changes may include new management, changing operating systems, changes in policies and procedures, changes in where you work and changes in your workload.
The organization you work in may be expanding, downsizing, restructuring, laying people off, merging with other organizations or going out of business.
It may be difficult to go to work everyday and do your job, effectively, when so much uncertainty looms on the horizon.
People often say, change is the norm and everyone must learn to accept and adapt to change in the workplace.
However, some organization researchers suggest that possibly only about a third of the changes that happen in any given organization are necessary or worthwhile.
Another third of the changes occurring in the organization may be unnecessary or don’t really add value to the organization.
It is also fair to assume some percentage of organizational change may actually be detrimental to the organization, in terms of unintended consequences, bad decisions or how it impacts the bottom-line and the people doing the actual work, as well as, how it impacts internal or external customers.
So, we are often stuck with all of the changes taking place, in addition to whatever work we do.
The combination can become overwhelming to the point that it increases people’s stress and impacts their work performance negatively.
You may also feel distressed or worried about whether you will continue to have your job given all the changes inside and outside of your organization.
Often, the changes in organizations, mentioned previously, may result in some people being laid off or terminated.
Others may choose to leave or retire as they become aware of not being able to live with the changes.
Many times, people who leave are not replaced.
Fewer people in the organization means work that others used to do gets redistributed to those still working.
In most situations the increased workload does not mean a change in job classification or more compensation.
It does mean an increase work stressors as people try to keep up.
In addition, if you are going through personal problems such as, marital problems, divorce, family issues, child difficulties, medical, financial or other problems; it becomes more problematic coping with changes at work.
The personal life stressors combine with your work stressors, making it more challenging to function productively in doing your job.
Not only will people’s work performance decline; their mood and health may start declining resulting in calling in sick, taking more personal time or even taking a medical leave, if they find they cannot go to work and function effectively.
It is ironic that organizations are aware of having less people to do the same or an increased amount of work, but if an employees‘ work performance starts slipping; the former is often not acknowledged or they are being reprimanded.
People who previously had a record of good work performance can find they now are having to explain, why they are not keeping up with their work.
Your Job Will Invariably Change
While workloads can change, so can the actual work people are doing.
People may find the redistributed or new work is not something they like or are good at.
Learning new work responsibilities or procedures, as well as, new systems can be challenging and frustrating especially with the need to keep your job.
The Gallup organization in research with organizations across industries found there are twelve significant contributing factors in the workplace conducive to people being engaged, productive and staying with an employer.
Almost half of them relate to the degree of connection, value and appreciation employees feel at work.
Unfortunately, it is rare to find this in practice in most organizations, despite it being promoted business books and in some organizations.
People who used to like most aspects of their job and did their job well may find themselves struggling with changes in the organization causing then to no longer like their jobs.
As a result, their engagement, work performance and satisfaction with the work, goes down as well.
Instead of feeling accepted and valued for the work they did; they now feel demoralized and devalued with the work they are doing.
Feeling valued and appreciated for the work you do is an important factor in whether a person has enough satisfaction in their work to want to stay and do a good job.
Managers and Supervisors May Change
Another significant problem for people that can contribute to their job no longer working for them, can be a difficult relationship with their immediate supervisor or manager.
This may be the result of their work performance becoming more of a problem, difficulty in communicating and understanding the expectations of their manager or just real differences between themselves and their manager that seem difficult to bridge.
Research by the Gallup Organization indicates the primary factor in whether a person will stay with an organization or leave depends on the kind of relationship they have with their immediate supervisor or manager.
Here are some factors that may indicate a problematic relationship between an employee and a manager or immediate supervisor:
- If they don’t like their supervisor or the supervisor doesn’t like them.
- If there continues to be conflict or friction between supervisor and employee.
- If they don’t comply with everything their supervisor wants even if their supervisor is uninformed or wrong.
- If the supervisor’s perception is they don’t fit in with the supervisor’s favored group.
- If the supervisor feels his or her authority is being challenged or they feel threatened by the employee’s knowledge, experience or ability to do a good job or get along well with people.
- If the employee, despite good work performance is being harassed, abused undermined, or set-up to be written up or if the supervisor seems invested in making a case against the employee when it is not warranted.
- If the supervisor is creating a hostile work environment by lying, exaggerating, creating drama and division between employees and then blaming or retaliating against employees if they challenge the supervisor or complain to others higher in management.
- If the supervisor’s leadership style and practices violate common sense and good management practices or behaves in inappropriate ways with respect to people’s boundaries.
Employee Assistance Programs
Most large organizations do provide access to Employee Assistance Programs that make it possible for you to begin to talk confidentially with a counselor on a limited basis, if something problematic comes up at work including difficulties with a manager or immediate supervisor.
This can be a good place to start talking about what is bothering you in your work situation.
They can also refer you to a clinical therapist or coach in your area where you can talk more in depth about your job situation and begin to consider options.
Keep in mind that Employee Assistance Program counselors have little or no influence with management to make changes that might improve your situation.
This is especially true if you happen to have a supervisor or manager who is engaging in some of the behaviors mentioned above.
You may consider, depending on the issue or concern, talking with someone in Human Resources and while they may listen they also have little or no influence in making changes to improve your situation.
They will be most responsive in enforcing the organization’s policies and procedures, dealing with benefits, risk management situations involving sexual harassment or discrimination or other legal infractions.
In my experience, Human Resources tend to support supervisors and managers in any disputes between management and employees unless their has been a significant tangible mistake or problem on the part of the manager or supervisor.
In addition, if you have a problematic supervisor and you complain to Human Resources that information may be shared with your supervisor which means you may risk further harassment or retaliation from your supervisor or others in the organization. There are exceptions to this, but you need to consider possible repercussions.
In most organizations without an employee Union there are grievance procedure available for employees to pursue, but keep in mind this does not really involve “due process” like in legal matters in the courts.
Depending on the organization’s culture and managers involved this may be a fair or biased process in favor of managers.
Managers and supervisors are usually “at will” employees which mean they can be terminated without much of a discussion and usually there is a severance package to help ease the pain of their being let go.
The important thing is if you are feeling increased stressors at work and home that you start talking with someone about it so you may begin to problem solve and improve your coping strategies.
Depending on your manager or supervisor, it may be useful to talk with your boss about your issues and concerns.
He or she may be able to address some of your issues and concerns in some fashion.
It may or may not be possible to get help in dealing with the increased workload or other changes that may be occurring at work.
If not, talk to the Employee Assistance Program counselor or see a therapist or coach to consider options and help find ways to cope better.
You might also want to assess what you can do at work during the day to better cope with your workload or other stressors.
Make sure to take breaks during the day, getting away from your desk for brief periods of time.
Eating lunch somewhere other than your desk or going for a walk at lunch time may help you get a break or refresh yourself during the day.
It is also important to consider what you might do outside of work that would help improve your mood and lessen your worry and anxiety.
Regular physical activity or exercise can help improve your mood and help reduce anxiety….walking, running, riding a bicycle, swimming, jumping rope, lifting weights or using work out videos will all make a difference.
Recreation and socializing more when you are not at work can also help you recharge.
Make sure you get enough sleep and avoid using too much caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, marijuana or other drugs on a regular basis.
In the short term, you may feel better, but the more you use on a regular basis, the more you may find the downside
Too much alcohol or drugs may interfere with your sleep, diminish your energy or make you tired, as well as, reduce your motivation for pursuing other interests and activities that might be more beneficial.
It is also a good idea to do a kind of inventory with respect to what you do at your job, what you like/don’t like and how much of it is overall is a good job/career fit. In other words, to what degree is your current job meeting your expectations and criteria?
If it is not, and obviously some criteria are more valued than others, are there other jobs within your current organization that you may be qualified for or could apply for when they become available? Start working on updating your resume so you will be ready to apply if you see an appealing job posting.
If possible consider your network within the organization and approach key contacts to get their advice or to let them know you are interesting in moving and see if they are willing to keep you in mind for jobs or know other people you might network with.
If you have been with your current employer for some time and with exception of your current job difficulties; it generally has met a lot of your criteria or you have too much time invested to leave the organization in terms of seniority or pension then you will want to stay.
If not, you may want to look for other job opportunities at other organizations. However, you need to be clear about what your job/career criteria is and be looking to find a better job/career fit.
Don’t let your frustration turn into desperation and be looking to take any job to get out of your current situation. Even if you don’t want to leave your current organization, it is a good idea to look to see what other options are out there with other organizations.
Many people are pessimistic about a job search given the state of the economy but may be surprised to find there are other options out there which can be very empowering even if you don’t want to pursue them.
I often see people compounding their personal, as well as job and career problems by trying to ignore them or hope things will improve on their own.
Usually, what happens is their situation becomes more and more intolerable contributing to coping in problematic ways by calling in sick more, performing poorly at work, using drugs or alcohol, overeating, spending money excessively, gambling, having affairs or doing other self defeating behaviors to try to feel better.
It is usually better to face and assess your current reality so you can begin to identify and work toward solutions that will improve your life.
Copyright 2013, 2017, When Your Job Stops Working For You by M. Douglas Evans, All Rights Reserved.