Frenetically busy, many executives find themselves feeling empty, depleted, and totally unfulfilled. Despite big salaries and prestigious titles, they wonder how they can enrich their daily experience of managing from the top. Are YOU one of these who are disillusioned by the rat race, heavy burdens, and other people’s off the charts expectations? If so, take a look at the following ten tips for increasing your job satisfaction:
1. Identify your personal values and those of your organization. Discover how well or how poorly they actually align.
Amazingly, some executives are unclear about what they truly value in life. Until you get clear about this, you can count on wading through meaningless days. If you are already in touch with your values, congratulations. Now you are in a place where you can live them. However, you may not be working for a company that honors your personal values. Do you know what your organization values?
How do those values mesh with your own? If there is a significant gap between your values and those of your workplace, watch out. You are on a slippery slope. Either you are compromising your personal values for the sake of the company, or you’re trying to live your values in an environment that rejects them. Whichever is the case, you probably feel unhappy. When a notable dichotomy exists between the two sets of values, it’s best that you leave and find employment with an organization that mirrors what you hold most important. Ignoring this reality has both short term and long term consequences.
2. Clarify your personal and professional priorities.
You have to know what you value before you can establish priorities. Values drive priorities. For example, if developing people in the workplace is one of your professional values, you are going to make employee growth opportunities a priority on the job. The two go hand in hand. If you value managing with integrity, then you communicate with others in a way that shows them you say what you mean and mean what you say. If parenting is a priority for you, then you most likely choose attending your son’s baseball game on Tuesday over staying late at the office that day.
Valuing your marriage may manifest by honoring your wedding anniversary in a way that pleases your spouse. You cannot say you value your marriage but then ignore your anniversary. To do so would be a huge disconnect between what you SAY you value and how you decide to behave. When your priorities mesh with your values, you automatically increase your level of happiness.
3. Examine your use of time and make necessary changes.
Your values and priorities shape your calendar. Think about it. There is really no mystery about why your schedule looks like it does. Your schedule reflects what you are choosing to value most and what you have concluded are your priorities. If you don’t like how your calendar looks, then you are allowing other things to usurp the places of what you honestly believe is most important.
Here’s what usually happens: people say that x,y, and z are the most important things to them, but their schedules fail to indicate that. Most of us are running around from meeting to meeting, task to task, without giving a thought to how those items actually fit into our value system and stated priorities. That is why so many folks are miserable too much of the time. Is this why YOU are miserable? Are you filling your days with a hundred obligations, few of which align with your values and priorities?
4. Focus on energy enhancing projects and tasks.
As you assess how you spend your days, can you say that most of what you do actually energizes you? Or is it true that most of what you do drains you? To stop playing the drain game, you have to know what does energize you. What gets you excited? Motivated? Inspired? Juiced up? What would get you to jump out of bed when the alarm clock rings each morning?
It may not be what you’re doing now. It may very well be something else. The point of this paragraph is not necessarily to nudge you toward quitting your current job. It could be, but more likely it’s to push you toward gaining clarity of focus within the work you are doing now. Get focused, and then arrange your days doing things that support that focus. Eliminate dull tasks and meetings that really serve no purpose for you or the organization. Try fresh approaches. Employ different strategies. Energy flows from engaging in things and methods that result in something worthwhile.
5. Know your strengths and then use them.
Too often people get hung up on what they don’t do well. They spend enormous amounts of time agonizing over the skills they lack or have not mastered. Instead, zero in on all of your strengths, and you will feel great.
Everybody has multiple skills that can truly make a difference in the lives of individuals and the lives of companies at large. If you are an excellent listener, employees may forgive the fact that you can’t design a computer program. If you successfully inspire others with whom you interact, people are likely to overlook the fact that you forget little details occasionally. These few examples make the point. This does not mean that you shouldn’t develop and expand your skill set.
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But minimizing or under using the skills you do have hardly serves others. Use them everywhere you can-all day-with folks who can benefit.
6. Deal with conflict as it unfolds Job Satisfaction.
Ignoring conflict-both real and perceived-guarantees trouble for both you and the company. Most people don’t like dealing with conflict, but as an executive you absolutely have to do it. Conflict is like cancer: it only grows bigger and uglier if intervention doesn’t take place.
If you lack the ability to handle conflict directly and swiftly, tap into resources that can enhance your skills in this area. Do not delay. Conflict brews every day with somebody somewhere. Convincing yourself that you can wait until you feel more ready is an illusion. The truth is that you will never be ready. You cannot wait another day to alter your situation. Executives owe it to their employees, Boards, and stakeholders to develop strategies for facing conflict and then coping with it effectively. If you shy away from all or most conflict, perhaps you are not executive material. When you deal with conflicts as they arise, life seems cleaner.
7. Learn a new skill or acquire new knowledge Job Satisfaction.
One of the most rewarding ways to boost job satisfaction is to proactively seek ways to “grow” yourself. What skill or knowledge would make your job easier? Serve people better?
Growing yourself has the same effect upon your life as spices and herbs have upon food. Taking conscious steps to increase your professional attractiveness enhances your stature in your own eyes too. That is no small thing. When you feel good about YOU, you tend to exude greater confidence. As a result, others have more confidence in you. It’s a big, beautiful snowball rolling downhill scenario.
8. Treat others as they want to be treated Job Satisfaction.
This is known as the platinum rule. Have you ever heard of it? It actually goes beyond the Golden Rule because it focuses more on the other person. Keep in mind that the way YOU want to be treated may not necessarily be how your employees or CEO want to be treated. Take time to find out how they want you to treat them. Get to know them. Show that you care about them as human beings, not just as production agents.
Never delude yourself by thinking that people don’t notice how you interact with them. They do in fact notice, and often in detail. They tend to have elephant memories too. You cannot mistreat someone even once and get away with it. You may believe you got away with it, but that is only a fantasy in your mind. How you treat others in the workplace carries more weight than a paycheck. Once last note: how you treat others is a direct reflection on YOU-even if you think they deserve your cold shoulder, your wrath, or your inappropriate words.
9. Add value to individuals’ lives and the organization at large every single day Job Satisfaction.
As an executive and as a leader, your main job is to build people. When you invest in your people, they and you accomplish great things for the company. The organization cannot reach or exceed its potential if your people are stagnant, uninspired, and bored. Give your employees the opportunity to grow. Nurture them. Talk with them. Ask them for their ideas.
Use their ideas when you can and let everybody know about it. When you are building people, those folks feel it. And they respond to it. They get excited. They start believing they can do fantastic things. When that happens, they allow themselves to stretch.
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When that happens, YOU succeed along with them. Your best asset in the workplace is your people. Never forget that. Pumping more and more value into them is ultimately what makes an organization shine. Along the way you get to smile.
10. Visualize your future both within the company and outside of it Job Satisfaction.
Most executives are so busy running from meeting to meeting, obligation to obligation, that they rarely if ever sit down in a quiet place to assess where they are and where they are going. They’re just grateful to survive another day. Unfortunately, the days lack purpose and direction when you don’t consider where you want to end up. Do you want to stay with this particular company?
Or maybe you’re ready to retire. What can retirement be for you? An opportunity to do things you always dreamed of doing? A chance to relax for the first time in thirty-five years? A time when you can rediscover your relationship with your spouse? Schedule some dreaming time each week to clarify what you truly want out of your work experience as well as your personal life. Set aside fifteen minutes and let your mind wander. You have to give yourself permission to do this. This may challenge you in the beginning simply because you are not used to it. Keep doing it, and you’ll find that you actually look forward to those brief “do nothing” periods that invite you to connect with the real you.
Sylvia Hepler, Owner and President of Launching Lives, is an executive and career coach/advisor based in South Central Pennsylvania. She connects with clients primarily by phone with in-between emails if desired. Her ideal clients are senior level corporate executives and nonprofit executive directors who are willing to commit to working steadily and diligently to move from their current status of stuckness to greater clarity, improved self-confidence, increased skill, and deeper sense of purpose. Her mission is to support executives as they get unstuck, reduce unnecessary suffering, and increase balance in their lives.
Ms. Hepler’s background includes: teaching, public speaking, retail sales, freelance writing, and executive leadership of a 14 county nonprofit organization. She has a working knowledge of staff supervision, Board development, Quality Management, SWOTT Analysis, the hiring and firing of employees, mission/vision development, networking, and organizational collaboration. Ms. Hepler demonstrates keen insights into human behaviors, exceptional ability to prioritize projects and tasks, and bulls eye skill around matching appropriate communication strategies with particular situations. Her deep empathy coupled with a no-nonsense approach yields swift, noteworthy results with most coaching clients.