Louis Business Journal
How to improve your
career satisfaction without changing jobs
By Anna Navarro
2002 - Sometimes the solution to a miserable job
isn't to change it but to change how you are operating within
it. This process requires calmness, resolve, discernment
and creativity. Here are some examples.
- When Ed came to see me, he was convinced he needed to change
his employment. But after we did a careful analysis of his
job, it unfolded that he liked everything about what he was
doing, except his new boss. The man was aloof, demanding and
gave very little feedback. Ed's previous boss took people
development very seriously. He gave Ed lots of positive feedback
and criticism came in the form of constructive advice and
help. Ed thrived in this environment.
Then everything changed. As Ed
and I dug deeper, we made a link to his father who had been
very uncommunicative and shared some personality traits with
his current boss. He was reliving the frustration of wanting
to please, but was never quite sure if he was hitting the
With some coaching, Ed became more
self-reliant and less dependent on feedback from his boss.
He realized his boss had limitations in people management
and no longer felt his lack of support as a reflection on
his own work. Discernment of the problem and calm acceptance
of his new boss' limitations helped Ed salvage a job that
was actually a very good fit.
ANDREA - As a manager Andrea
was lucky to have a great deal of leeway in her day-to-day
work activities. But as she grew in responsibility she delegated
many of the tasks she enjoyed the most. As Director of Public
Relations for a major corporation she now had a publication
manager who dealt with print materials, and a community relations
manager who dealt with civic issues, both functions she enjoyed
Once we stood back and saw what
was happening, Andrea resolved to reshape her job. She recognized
there were changes she could make and she did. Andrea restructured
her department and designated one of her most capable staff
members to be her second-in-command. While retaining oversight,
she put him in charge of many routine management tasks. She
traded in some of the work she disliked and took back the
job of writing some major publications and some aspects of
community relations, like the corporate foundation. It took
courage to make these changes, but this restructuring re-energized
Andrea and she decided to stay in her job.
PEGGY - Sometimes people
put so much into their jobs that there is no way they can
be compensated for their efforts. In that situation, sometimes
(not always) they can pull back from the job and learn to
invest more in other aspects of their lives. In Peggy's case,
for years she invested all her time and energy in her work.
She loved her job, but as head of the department there was
no place to advance within her company. She was missing the
challenge of new learning and on-going growth.
It didn't seem wise to either leave
her profession (she still loved the work) or the company (she
had many perks that would be difficult to duplicate elsewhere).
But it was also clear that the status quo was not sustaining
Once we had isolated the root of
her dissatisfaction, it became clear that she could find the
challenge of learning and on-going growth in other places.
She had always been interested in singing, but had dropped
it because of her workload.
It took a lot of resolve to leave
the office when everyone else did, and refrain from taking
on new projects that would lead nowhere. But with her new
found time and energy, she started taking voice lessons and
singing in choral groups and sometimes solo at weddings and
other events. She developed new interests, new friends and
took on new challenges. And she kept her job.
All three of these people carefully
figured out what they could and could not change about their
work. Then they applied their most creative problem solving
to turn a miserable job situation into a satisfying one. Sometimes
the answer is to move on, but sometimes staying put and acting
with calmness, resolve and discernment is an even better solution.
is the founder of Work Transitions, a nationwide career consulting
firm that trains independent career strategists and consults
with individual clients.
was originally published by the St. Louis Business Journal.
The actual title of the column and date in which it appeared
in the Business Journal may be slightly different from what
appears on WorkTransitions.com.