I Ask Anyone Who’s Unhappy at Work 4 Questions, But One is More Telling Than You’d Think

You know the feeling.

unhappy-business-manDreading every minute of your commute into the office.

Counting down the minutes until Friday at 6 p.m.

Wondering just how you got to this place and whether you’ll be stuck like this forever.

While being unhappy at work can feel isolating, you’re actually not alone. Current studies show that 66 percent of us aren’t engaged with our jobs.

And I see it almost every day in the work that I do with my clients.

Which is also why I know that, no, you aren’t stuck. In fact, there are proven ways to get to the root issue of what’s not working at work–and move forward from a place of confidence and clarity.

To start the process, I always ask my clients the four questions below. This exercise can get you a lot closer to finding a job that makes you happy. And the answer to one of them can be far more telling than you may think.

1. Are you challenged and fulfilled with the actual work you’re doing?
The first question allows me to see if there is an issue with the job fit. When you look at what creates great performance, there are two data points that are critical: being challenged and feeling fulfilled. If you aren’t either one of those, then it means something is awry. You’d be surprised by how much power we each have to fix our own performance problems. So, there are lots of ways you can bring more challenge and fulfillment to your daily work before you decide it’s time to quit or find a different role.

2. Do you feel that the company culture is a fit for you, and are you able to be your full self at work?

3. Do you like your manager and your colleagues, and are they easy to work with?
The second and third question are related. Company culture, as well as working with people you get along with, is such an important part of overall job fit. If you can’t be authentically yourself, or your direct manager isn’t supportive or isn’t an effective manager, these things can turn even the best-fit jobs into a disaster. We need to have psychological safety in order to be able to perform at our best. With teamwork being such an integral part of getting things done, the people you work with have to be people you can navigate conflict well with, as well as respect and appreciate. If both of these are not in sync, then it’s a pretty good sign that it’s time to look elsewhere. Changing a culture and people is a losing battle. It’s much better to pack your bags and seek opportunities at a place that allows you to thrive.

4. Are you scared of searching for another job and believe you won’t find one better?
If you’re wondering which question is the most telling of all, bingo! The fourth question is a gold mine of information. Why? Because the answer to this question tells me if the person is confident and if they believe in themselves. It tells me if they have a growth mindset–whether they believe in their ability to grow and learn and if they have a strong network and feel comfortable with the process of job searching. If the answer is yes to this question, it means that while their job may not be a good fit, they have a lot of internal work to do first before blaming the job as the problem.

When you aren’t confident and don’t have a growth mindset, you can find fault in almost any situation because you are always the victim. Also, if you don’t get excited about the prospect of selling yourself and finding a new opportunity, then it’s likely that the job search will be painful. Here is the thing, if you’re reading this now and you’re nodding your head up and down, don’t despair. Now is the time to start the process of building your self-awareness and confidence. Once you take ownership for this, then you can more easily determine what kind of opportunities are available to you in your existing job, and then look elsewhere if you determine it’s not the right fit.



Laura Garnett

Laura Garnett

Laura Garnett is a performance strategist, TEDx speaker, and the creator of the Genius Habit. Her book, The Genius Habit: How One Habit Can Radically Change Your Work and Your Life (Sourcebooks, February 2019) shows the path to finding long-lasting professional happiness.

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