One of my worst jobs was my very first job upon leaving school. I hated it and it made me miserable. Stuck in a job you hate is a horrible feeling and one that can seriously affect your own wellbeing. There are steps you can take though to improve the situation…
It was in the 90s and I got a job working for a Chartered Surveyors down the road from my house. I was pleased to get the first job I applied for, but very quickly wished I hadn’t been successful. I hated it and it made me miserable.
I stuck at it for about a year or two but in hindsight I wish that a) I had known what to do to improve my job (so I was happier) or b) I had known sooner how to take the right steps to leave and work somewhere else.
Step 1: What’s the cause?
This is obviously the first step. Whether it’s that dreaded feeling on Sunday evenings or that feeling every evening, once you feel like you hate your job, you need to start with the cause and take action.
There are many reasons of course: difficult colleagues, difficult manager, your own mental health, too much work, uncertainty in terms of job security – the list is long and can combine many causes.
Think about when those feelings of hate are triggered and that is step 1.
Step 2: What can be done?
Let’s take an example of a difficult manager. You liked your job but then you ended up working for a manager you perceive as the cause of your unhappiness with your job.
They maybe behave unprofessionally, they maybe giving you too much work, they may be treating people more favourably. These are all situations that can lead to you hating your job and taking you down the unsettled path of looking for another job elsewhere.
But you liked your job before them so you start to imagine liking your job again if only they weren’t there. What do you do?
- Talk to them: always try to avoid going ‘above their head’ to their boss as it rarely goes down well. Your manager will feel undermined and most likely their boss will not give you the response you want – remember they may well have been the one who hired your manager. Ask them for a chat, try and keep it informal to start with and tell them why you feel the way you do. The key is to ask them to help you improve how you feel about your job – not sit and blame them for everything you are feeling.
- What does success look like: let’s say you feel your manager has been giving you too much work and that has led you to feeling overwhelmed and in turn, unhappy with your job. Success would be your manager accepting they had given you too much work, offering support to help change this situation and make a plan of action to get you back on track. But the reality can be different, especially if you don’t work for an effective manager. Perhaps you are doing a lot of work because of problems elsewhere within the team and they are overly relying on you. Perhaps they don’t think you have too much work and your complaint is unfounded. There are many potential outcomes depending on the specific circumstances.
Step 3: Fix it or leave?
It really depends on circumstances.
Leaving your job might naturally feel like the easiest option – removing yourself from the situation and making a new start somewhere else. But it is quite often not as easy as this – especially if you want to leave without another job to go to.
Sometimes a good chat with a good manager can make all the difference in making steps to improve your job. Sometimes it doesn’t. If it doesn’t and you genuinely feel you can’t change things, there is no point in being unhappy. If it’s your manager and you have been unable to resolve the problem, can you work for another manager in the organisation?
Approach your manager positively with the mindset of you want their help to get you out of this situation and like your job again.
Be specific – what parts of your job do you hate? What bits of the job do you need them to help you with?
Know what success looks like – what could your manager offer you that would help you? Ask for it.
Agree you will take time to reflect on your conversation and arrange a further meeting to chat through again once you have both had time to think about your discussions.
Approach the conversation with a blame attitude. It may well be your manager’s fault but if you start with accusations, they will feel defensive and the points you make will be lost somewhere in the conversation. It will be unproductive and won’t get you the outcome you want or need.
Be unwilling to listen. You may well hear a different perspective. Perhaps they think you are able to manage more work with ease so didn’t think it was a problem. Perhaps someone else in the team is struggling so they are relying on you. Perhaps they didn’t think about it. Be prepared to listen carefully to their response as you start to make sense of the situation.
Honestly, you either try and fix it or leave. Circumstances are different for everyone. What you hate someone else might not mind.
What everyone must do though, regardless of circumstances is DO NOT IGNORE IT.