6 Survival Strategies for a Job You Hate

Hi, Anita,

I work for a small private company where I am under-appreciated and basically black-balled by the owner and my co-workers to the point I am ostracized and alienated. Obviously there is no chance for promotion; in fact, I have had to train new hires who have been promoted over me which is a very humiliating experience. I realize that the only option I have is to resign.

Dear, Anita,

My supervisor is such a control freak, micromanaging my every move. He is very patronising and doesn’t give me any room to think for myself. I feel like I am suffocating all the time. He also tends to leave important things that require my presence til near the end of the day. When I am staying til 7:00 pm after being there since 9:30 am nearly every day of the week… I am exhausted! It’s taking a toll on my health, productivity and sanity!

 Ready to commit career suicideDear, Job Haters,

Before you take the drastic measures depicted in the movie Horrible Bosses, promise me you’ll try these first:

  1. Have a Heart-to-Heart with Your Boss.
    If you really feel that you are being treated unfairly, schedule a face-to-face meeting to outline your position. Keep the language neutral and non-accusatory, and rein in your emotions (“I feel under-appreciated” instead of “You don’t appreciate anything I do for this company!”). Offer solutions (“It would be helpful if you could let me know my important tasks before lunch so I can finish them by day’s end.”). Give the situation enough time to improve, and if nothing changes, involve the Human Resources department, if you have one. If there is still no satisfactory resolution, proceed to #2.
  2. Keep Calm and Carry On… with Your Job Search.
    I rarely recommend quitting your current job until securing a new position. Devise an exit strategy with a timeframe goal and the steps you’ll need to reach your target date of starting a job at another company (e.g., set up alerts on all of the job boards, send out 3 résumés a week, attend the monthly industry association meeting, and network with at least 5 people).
  3. Consider Self-Employment.
    Not for the faint of heart (or light in savings account), take stock of your life skills and see if you could turn one into a profitable business venture. Research, research, research before taking this giant leap.
  4. Learn New Skills.
    Explore the proficiencies you need for your dream job. It’s easier than ever to find training at local colleges or online courses, for fee or free. Take advantage of any training that your current company offers to increase your marketability. You may even be eligible to move up or laterally within your organization (and possibly away from the sources of antagonism).
  5. Set Personal Goals.
    Focus on your life outside of work. Sign up for a marathon (or just make it to 10 sit-ups tonight). Learn a new language and plan a trip to a country where you can practice your accent. Digitize your family photo albums – all 47 of them.
  6. Create Your Own Fun.
    You have the power to make your job better with humor. Play Business Buzzword Bingo while enduring an endless meeting (though yelling “Bingo” when you hear all of the overused phrases is not recommended). Treat yourself to a double macchiato with triple whip after finishing your report. Invite co-workers to lunch (make the office a taboo subject), and play the “whoever looks at their cell phone first pays the bill game.”
  7. Be a Duck.
    Ducks have waterproof feathers to let the storms of life roll off their backs. Don’t let the minor annoyances of your workday upset you. You don’t even need to read the classic book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff to adopt the title philosophy.
  8. Remind Yourself Why You Do What You Do.
    Print out your company’s mission statement and post it on your bulletin board. Gaze at the framed photo of the family you’re working to support with your paycheck and health insurance benefits. Clinton_Survival_Tips_0515

Readers: How do you cope when a bad day at work turns into a week, a month, or longer?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Stay or Quit?

Dear, Anita,

I’ve been unhappy at my current job for a while. I am butting heads with my moody supervisor, and the daily grind (not to mention the commute) is getting me down. But I make decent money and have pretty good benefits. How do I decide whether to stick it out or quit?

Dear, On the Fence,
IOn_the_Fence_iStock_000009524325_Smallf, like The Clash, you are asking yourself “Should I stay or should I go?,” take the time to write a list of the positives and negatives. Sometimes the grass looks greener elsewhere because you are stewing on the few aspects of your job that get you down instead of ruminating on all the plusses. Putting it down on paper – or in Excel – may lead to a visual “aha” moment.

An online decision tool like helpMYdecision adds weight to each factor in the choice. Are your salary and benefits extremely important (10) or not very (1)? (Answer this after looking at your monthly bills.) Does working at something meaningful rank higher than money for you? Is a more cooperative relationship with a boss a 7, a shorter commute a 5 or an 8? Does having an office with a window versus a cubicle not matter at all to you? After weighting the determinants, rate your current situation then let the computer give you its “Best Choice.”  Sometimes, when we ask advice, we are really just seeking validation for the choice we’ve subconsciously made. So take notice if you think hooray! when the decision appears, or if you feel disappointed. Then go with your gut.

Manager_Employee_Serious_SpeakIf you’ve decided to stay, see what you can do to repair your relationship with your boss. Relationships are based on trust. Can your boss count on you to do your assigned tasks? It’s even better if you “go the extra mile.” It’s your job to make your supervisor look good to her superiors and/or customers.  Perhaps her bad moods crop up after she’s had an unpleasant interaction with her boss over problems or productivity issues.  She’s only human and may unwittingly take it out on those around her. Try the “kill her with kindness” approach, no matter her mood. Find something – anything – to compliment. It may not happen overnight, but you may be surprised how a little positivity can change a relationship or an entire workplace.

If and when you leave your current job, don’t burn any bridges. Use that 2-week notice timeframe to tie up any loose ends and leave your replacement with an organized desk and files. Telling your supervisor exactly what you think of her management style on your last day won’t really help you or her.

But don’t leave until you’ve found another position. It’s easier to find a job if you have a job (there’s some psychology at play – if you’re currently employed, you’re obviously a desirable hire.)  And it may take you longer than you think to obtain better employment. Keep your pro and con list in mind when searching for a new job to keep from jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Readers: Are you contemplating quitting your job? Why?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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