Recently someone said to me, “I hate my job. I don’t know how people live life when they hate their job. It’s making me miserable.” This got me thinking about all the people out there who feel that way. I’ve been in this situation only once in my career. When it drove me to my doctor with a complaint of an irregular heartbeat and the diagnosis was stress, I decided it was time to leave that job. I am not talking about people who have unrealistic expectations with life and responsibility, and essentially will be unhappy working no matter what they do, I’m talking about those that have talent but are in a job they dread going to every day. To those I say, take the leap and find something new! It is scary, and if you are the sole breadwinner that makes it even scarier, but get out and explore your options. There really are so many choices out there once you start looking.
Unhappy employees come in a couple forms. One form are those that stay professional and get the job done. Another are those who let their unhappiness permeate the workplace and make the environment miserable for everybody else. We all know those people! They might actually be skilled at their job, which is often the worst because from a manager’s perspective you wonder what you would do without them and who else would do their job as well as they do. When they are skilled, co-workers and management make excuses for them. “Oh that’s just the way they are.” In many cases, those grumpy people are part of what is making the rest of the staff miserable and, in my opinion, management has an obligation to do something about it. These grumpy people drive talented, happy people away. These grumpy people negatively impact work progress because no one wants to interface with them. If you work in a setting where safety is an issue, these kind of people impact work safety because coworkers would rather avoid confrontation and collaboration, and this avoidance can lead to errors.
I want to encourage you on two fronts. If you are the miserable one, make a change. Lift your head up and look for other options and go for it. If you are managing someone who is miserable, help them find something that will fulfill them. That may mean giving them different responsibilities or helping them network and leave their current organization. If you are managing an employee who is down right grumpy and negative, council them and expect change. If there is no improvement, hold them to the consequences of their poor behavior. The rest of your staff will respect you for it and it will improve the morale for the rest of the team.
What you allow is what will continue. –Elizabeth Gilbert