Do good things in bad times

Home Editorials Do good things in bad times

by Al Wahnon

In these difficult times we must value our job no matter how thorny things get. One casualty of the dismal economy is the opportunity to confidently leave a job or work environment if it loses its appeal and becomes distasteful. We know jobs are hard to come by and, exacerbated by an uncertain future, you could be intimidated and unable or unwilling to contemplate a move. With unemployment high and replacement jobs scarce, you must be content with less, but that need not be the case; you can make your job tolerable while networking—building a bridge to the future.

First, step outside of the current crisis and carefully examine your job, be objective and consider your contributions and attitude in the equation. Also, learning why your job is so unrewarding and less than gratifying can absorb more and bide time for months or even years. But help uncover options for a positive exit that puts you on the path to success. According to a recent study, there are three things that could trigger job abhorrence: a bad boss, a job that doesn’t utilize your talents and skills, or a work culture that is toxic.

If the boss is the problem, you will probably have to do things that you consider demeaning and perform many tasks that will test your temperament. But try to be cooperative, a team player, and make a meaningful effort to make a difference. If you are biding time, then your life at work is more palatable when you are esteemed by the boss and respected by colleagues. Your position is always more tenable in a collegial environment. When the boss is the problem, a sobering thought is this: What is the alternative? The choice is simple: Bad boss or job loss.

The second reason for job loathing is the gnawing feeling that your talents are underutilized and you feel more like a spectator than a participant. In this instance, take every opportunity to hone your skills by taking advantage of any educational or training benefits available. Anything you learn reinforces your value to the company and also adds dimension to your resume. There are learning experiences all around you; this industry is an arsenal of education and you can arm yourself without limit.

Finally, you might be dismayed by the noxious atmosphere on the job. This is the most difficult of the problems. Most experts agree that you generally can’t change the culture of the company unless you’re high on the management chain. The next best thing is to change yourself and your approach to the job to reduce the tension in the workplace and the stress on yourself. One caveat: Don’t exacerbate a critical situation by complaining about your job to coworkers, publicly or in online forums where management or potential future employers might find your comments. One approach that has been successful is learning the core of your dissatisfaction and separating yourself from whatever negative dynamic is making the workplace toxic.

Don’t allow the sour workplace to distract you from your primary goal. Focus on the work at hand, but don’t lose sight of your need to enhance your resume and position yourself favorably when jobs become available in your field.

In the meantime, no matter the agony your job visits on you and despite your mounting anxiety to leave the position, you must work to build connections outside the organization. Recommit to industry associations, i.e., the World Floor Covering Association, your local floor covering club, and other industry-wide groups. Expand your network and you will increase your chances of expanding your career.

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