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Is Your Job Really a Crap One?

2 September 2019

When the world of work is not going so well it can be tempting to want to jump ship and find a new job.  First though, it is useful to pause and do a quick assessment. Is it really a crap job or is something else happening?  If it really is a crap job then the case for leaving is probably strong.  If the job is more on the valuable side than the crap side it is worthwhile to dig deeper into what is going on.  

Independent of the field of work you are doing—which is a whole other question I examined in a separate article—here are some ways to assess your job.

It’s a great job if…

There is scope in the role for you to develop and refine skills that are transferable
It supports (eventually) something that you personally believe is meaningful
The people around you support, encourage and care for you
You get to make tangible progress on a regular basis
You are able to bring new ideas and creativity to the role
You have a good level of autonomy for the skill level you have

It’s a crap job if…

You don’t get to develop new skills and stretch existing skills
The people around you are toxic, disagreeable and lacking in common courtesy.  In addition to being miserable people to be around, their attitude can start to rub off on you and you might become toxic yourself.
The role adds little or nothing to things you can see as meaningful or adding value to the world.
It is then useful to do a quick self-assessment on yourself to reassure yourself it is not you.

You are a great employee if you… 

Continually work on deepening the skills you have and acquiring new ones (i.e. you bring a learning mindset)
You are an intentionally positive influence on those around you – giving more than you take (i.e. you are generous)
You bring new ideas to the table and work to improve them if others don’t easily see their value (i.e. you have grit)
You care about the things you work on
You bring your whole vulnerable self to the work you do and you are not afraid of making mistakes and learning from them
(Read more about these this article)

Once you have done this assessment it often becomes easier to decide what to do next.

Now, of course, there will be grey areas in between where it is not so clear cut.  For example, most of the people you work with are great and there is just one toxic person, or you know that normally you are a great employee, but are just in a rut at the moment, or you really believe in the product of the organisation/job but in your role there has little scope for skill development.  In addition, all jobs have tasks in them that are not so much fun.

When there are grey areas the key question to ask is: Will anything change in the next 3 month, 6 months, or whatever is a reasonable time frame for you (I advocate setting a specific date).  If the answer is no, then take action.  The longer you stay in a low quality job (or in a rut yourself) the greater the opportunity cost on your career. 

As always wishing you a flourishing career.


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