We all strive for satisfaction in our lives; be it at a personal front or more relevant here, our work life. I’ve often heard employees transition to entrepreneurs to seek job satisfaction. And entrepreneurs would agree that the quest continues.
When we think of job satisfaction, I guess generally our thoughts would be closer to the ones listed below:
- It is only the lucky ones who have job satisfaction.
- I will have it as soon as I find the right organisation and the right boss.
- Job satisfaction is an oxymoron. A job is there to make money. For satisfaction, find a hobby.
Do you notice that we either make job satisfaction out of reach for ourselves or make ourselves helpless and incapable of achieving it? With these thoughts, no wonder job satisfaction looks like a distant dream.
I agree there are multiple factors that together produce this result called job satisfaction. These factors may not be in your control, but is there nothing that you can control (that you can do) to move closer to job satisfaction? I fiercely disagree.
Why is it your responsibility?
Before we explore what you could do, it would be a good idea to answer ‘why’. And the answer is fairly simple – it is your life. Why would you give control of your satisfaction and happiness to others and that too in work life where things can be changed so much easily?
Average employee tenure in an organisation is 3 years and still we are not happy in any organisation. But let’s get this clear that no organisation has been formed to provide employment. They are created to fulfill a need of people and make money in the process. Even if the organisation is a non-profit, the goal is to solve a social problem and not to provide employment – at least to the employees. So, an organisation has no obligation to nurture you and craft your career progression.
So probably organisations are not limiting your job satisfaction. And if they are, they are a constant in the equation of job satisfaction. The variables are other aspects.
It is important to take responsibility of your job satisfaction and hence focusing on the aspects that you can control. Unless you take responsibility, it will be a sheer stroke of luck if you are satisfied at your workplace.
What can you do?
• Think before you move
Unemployment is high so we tend to take up the first job that comes along. How many times you have switched jobs because that is what you wanted to do even if it gave you lesser salary? Almost never. Then why do you expect more job satisfaction in your next organisation? Once you land up in your first work, let the next one be a well-thought move.
Sometimes, we want to be entrepreneurs and start with the first idea that comes to our mind. Almost everybody starts that way. But the important question is, ‘what next?’ if this is not working out. How many times you have started an organisation because you believe in it rather than based on the current fad of the VCs?
• What do you really enjoy doing?
Do you know why you have not been able to move to a work that was more satisfying? Because we don’t know what we want, what makes us happy or gives satisfaction. Generally it is not a particular profile/ designation that gives one satisfaction. It is more of activities like talking to new people, creating something new, or managing events or projects. There is no profile that will require you to do only this one thing. It will just be a part of hundred other things that you are required to do, especially if you are an entrepreneur. The secret is to look at work where this aspect that you like is a major part of your responsibilities.
• Stop looking only at money
It is great if money is your motivator. You will find job satisfaction in any work that pays well. If that is not happening, then look out for things that give you satisfaction. I agree there are too many bills to pay. But decide which bills are really worth paying if they are postponing your work satisfaction. What is your benchmark for a good income? Once you reach that level, make work satisfaction your priority. The more bills you decide to pay, more priority is given to money than satisfaction. You will only get what you work towards.
• Start looking for what you can control
Even if you can’t control many things in your organisation, one of the most impactful and easiest things you can control is your team culture. If all the team members are aligned towards a particular work environment, daily routine work becomes all the more satisfying. A cordial work environment coupled with trust and transparent communication will keep removing any wrinkles in work life. It is multiple small-small things that add up to dissatisfaction; it is rarely one big thing.
• Stop looking at yourself as a victim
The worst thing that you can do to yourself is to see yourself as victim or helpless. It is true for both professional and personal life. The moment you become a victim, there is a reason why things are the way they are. It is either that the other person is more powerful or it is the circumstances. Your brain is satisfied because there is a reason, and it further pushes you towards inaction. Now there is only one way to change things – someone else will have to come as a saviour. Till the time that happens, such is life…
• Start looking at yourself as a leader that can bring about change
Is there some process or practice (and not a person ) that really ticks you off? If it really irritates you and you don’t see yourself as a helpless person, you will want to do something about it. Don’t look at the enormity of the issue, just look at what you can do today. Whatever you can do is fine. Lao Tzu said: A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. What is the step that you can take today? There are thousands of things that you can’t control. Find one thing that you can about this issue and then take control over that thing. Do it enough number of times and you will be perceived as an expert in that area. Then exponential growth begins.
I am sure these will work. Why? Because I have either done it myself or wished that I had done when things were not going as I would have liked them to.
At Yellow Spark, our vision is to enable every organisation to create a compelling ecosystem that people aspire to be a part of. This requires efforts from both – employer and employee. If you want to create an aspiring workplace, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Madhukar Kumar is a leadership coach and believes in the philosophy of “Know Thyself”. His non-judgemental listening coupled with thought-provoking questioning has helped his clients to uncover authentic leadership. Academically, he holds an engineering degree from NIT Surathkal and an MBA from IIM Calcutta.