During a recent Focused Fun Friday strategy discussion at HRM, the question came up:  “What would be your ideal job?”  There were some fun answers including “driving the beer cart on a golf course” and “anything on a Caribbean island.”  While those would obviously be fun options, we also need to pay the bills – and not just in the summer.  So what does it take to love your job, be successful AND have some fun along the way?

Here are some things that we believe make a significant difference in our work satisfaction:

Interesting work:  We need the opportunity to learn new skills in a supportive environment.

Being in the know:  Knowing what is happening and why in matters that affect your work is critical.  No one likes to work in a vacuum only to find out they were focusing on the wrong priorities.

Mentoring Boss:  My favorite bosses have been the ones who challenged me to try new things, recognized me when I did extra, and held me accountable when I didn’t do as well as I could.

Terrific co-workers:  People that you like, trust, and enjoy working with makes all the difference.  These people are whom you spend most of your time.

Reasonable workload:  Big projects are great and challenges are exciting, but too much work over time is a grind and will cause burnout.

The opportunity to “Win”:  Having a goal and the resources to successfully achieve it.  If we feel that we can’t make a difference or feel held back from being successful, we’ll be constantly frustrated.

Work-life balance:  While this means different things for different people at various points in their lives, we all need some flexibility to enjoy our lives outside of work and earn a living.

If you have a job that you love, be sure to celebrate that with others and share your love of your job with your employer. If there are aspects of your job that you don’t love, consider these options:

  • Improve your current gig: Some things are hard to change, but if your current role includes most of the items on this list, see what you can do to develop the other areas.  For example, not being mentored by your boss?  Find your own by seeking out mentoring from a leader you respect and trust.  Have an unreasonable workload?  Look for options to delegate, streamline, or document the need for additional resources.
  • Create your own opportunity: Sometimes what an organization needs most is the role that they don’t currently have.  Many years ago a mentor of mine encouraged me to look at my own strengths, determine how they could best support the organization, and then request adding those responsibilities to my role.  Most organizations are more than open to having good employees help out in non-traditional ways.  Try it, you’ll have the opportunity to learn something new as well as demonstrate your capabilities.
  • Find a new opportunity: If you choose to leave, look for a role with an organization that has a reputation for being a great place to work.  With that, look before you leap.  Even the best organizations have bad bosses, high drama departments, and mundane work.  Ferret out what you can in advance.  Ask about turnover, leadership styles, and work life balance.  Research the organization online at places like Glassdoor.com, talk to people you know who work there or ask friends for recommendations of others who do.  The grass isn’t always greener.
  • Buy an Island: It may not be the most practical suggestion, but it sure would be fun to try!
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