Reasons her job sucks
Dear Ronnie Ann … I just found your website today, and I have to say it’s really helpful to me. I’m not sure I can take this advice completely to heart and turn around my daily situation. But I understand the idea behind it. And even though my job sucks, I know I should at least make an effort to be more positive.
But it’s not easy. My boss is constantly acting on whims and it seems like half the time I’ll be in the middle of something that seemed urgent. Then it’s like, “what happened to this project?” It just floats off into thin air as another urgent whim takes priority, only to be abandoned a week later.
Random seemingly important decisions are made without others’ involvement. And a myriad of other rage-inducing things I could elaborate on, but won’t right now.
And she’s not alone
Point being, it seems that all of us at the company are miserable. I approach requests and interactions with a smile. And I try to up the morale by baking things or bringing in snacks for everyone now and again. Unfortunately this guy’s the CEO so there is honestly no “waiting it out” with this one.
It’s come down to my emotional well-being suffering. And I know I need to leave. But I’ve been sending resumes and interviewing for a year now and haven’t found anything that seems to suit me. And I’m terrified of having another job that appears all happy-go-lucky during the interview, then is like a horrible trap once employed.
Oh how she wishes … but hard to leave
Sometimes I actually daydream about working at a cafe for minimum wage so I could just be free of corporate clutches for awhile. But even full-time at a place like that wouldn’t pay enough for rent. I’m making a decent salary and I’m only a few years out of college with lots of executive-level responsibilities. But having those perks is truly not worth sacrificing happiness and mental health.
Also your statement “You earn respect in each new situation; it’s not due you.” I want to challenge it just a little bit! When I approach people, I generally give them respect unless they give me reason not to. I’ve encountered this whole “work your way up” “prove yourself” type mentality in the workplace and it makes me feel horrible. It’s like, “trust me, and if you thought I was competent enough to do a good job and hired me, continue that attitude after the fact.”
That’s just my two cents though!
~ Stuck and Sad
My response to Stuck and Sad:
I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this situation. But thank you for your GREAT comment on earning respect. You are so right … that’s the way it should be. It’s certainly the way I try to operate as a boss. In my original answer, I was just trying to let people know how things are in many real-life work situations.
But your two cents are much appreciated and add an important perspective. And to that point, please let me clarify with this more recent post:
Your comment tells me you’ve thought this through and this doesn’t sound like a great match for you. I sense in you someone who is going to find a better way. Even if it takes a while, don’t be afraid to start planning for it now.
Not that I’m telling you to do this, but early in my career when I had a job I couldn’t stand, I often chose to get out anyway. Sometimes if you wait forever for the “right” job, the wrong one eats away at you in ways that don’t even help you interview well enough to get out!
A “corporate way” you feel good about?
It’s true, there is a corporate way in general, and it may not be the right match for your career needs. But then again, not all corporations are exactly alike. You never know when another one might fit you better.
A slightly different corporate personality (a different CEO helps too) can make a big difference in your everyday work life. And don’t forget nonprofits (Idealist.org may have local jobs) or academia. (If you’re near a college or university, go to their website and look for openings.)
Please keep trying. Sending out resumes is not enough. Network. Do some volunteer work that you care about. (Might get you to a nonprofit job you never imagined.) Let everyone in your life and everyone you meet know you’re looking. Be creative in your search.
Make it a fun thing — less time thinking / talking about how bad your current job is (not that YOU do that) and more time thinking about what you really want. And when you talk to people, express how excited you are about finding something you could really sink your teeth into. It gets others engaged in your quest. I found some of my most interesting jobs this way.
More things to try if current job sucks
I rarely say this, but … if you have the funds to afford it, maybe you’d consider letting your corporate job (while you have it) pay for a career / life coach. There must be some good ones in your area. Although they don’t have all the answers, a coach can help you see things you might be missing. And help you set and follow goals towards what you really want. Why keep doing what’s not working? Maybe what you truly want is a totally different career?
Another idea — from my own files — is to save every penny you can for the next 6 months, say good-bye to your current job, and let yourself do some lower-paying temp jobs, just to see what else is out there. It’s also a great way to be seen by other companies. If you’re sharp and good at networking once you get in, job offers can come your way.
Even after I had my MBA, when I wanted a change — or needed to get away from a job that sucks — sometimes I’d just go do temp work. (Also gave me a great amount of material for this blog.) A few times I turned a temp job into a full-time gig at a much higher level.
I always smiled, did my job the best I could, let people know a little about what I really do, and looked for opportunities to arise. And they did. Not EVERY time. But often enough. (Of course, if the temp job sucked, I asked for a different one. But I still always tried my best.)
Idea I probably should have led with…
…since it’s in my original post. Maybe try to help your current boss improve the work process. If you haven’t already done this and if it’s at all possible (not all bosses will go for this!), it might pay to ask your boss if you may speak to him about some ideas you have to help make things even better. (Note … I worded that very carefully not to be on the attack; that just gets the other person’s defenses up.)
Maybe you and he — and a few others if he would be open to it — could start to meet regularly about ways to improve morale and efficiency. (Something for everyone.) While he probably won’t change all his ways, if you set goals together and IF he is willing to at least try, you could actually help improve things for everyone.
Time & patience but maybe…
It takes time and patience, but even a little could make a huge difference. Managing up is sometimes your best friend when you have a boss like yours who is clearly not a good manager.
Since, as you suggest, all corporate jobs might be similar, being able to help change an organization from the inside is a powerful tool for you to have. (And then eventually you could become an organizational consultant and charge a lot more money for doing this kind of stuff! 🙂 )
If any of that speaks to you … great. If not, I have a feeling you have enough creativity in you to find a solution on your own.
~ Ronnie Ann
If you’re curious, this post came from a comment in another post:
[This post updated in 2020]
About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work To the Wise and Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development, as well as her many adventures as a serial job seeker.
More posts to help
And just in case you do need to leave
And for job search help: