The job that was so exciting when you landed it now bores you. A year ago, you would have joined the throngs of employees exiting their employers in the Great Resignation. Now you hesitate. What if media accounts about the looming recession result in any shiny new job you accept evaporating within months if you’re laid off, as “last hired, first let go”?
Maybe you need to hunker down and breathe new life back into a job that’s more secure, even if it has grown stale. But can you? Or will you have as much success as when you pour water on dehydrated food on a camping trip, and it still doesn’t taste fresh?
If you’re caught in this bind, what’s happened to you is predictable and you can fix it.
The new job honeymoon
When we land a job, our new supervisor and coworkers welcome us aboard — they need us, and we know they chose us over the competition. There’s a lot to learn, and our new employer, eager to attract and keep employees, offers innovative benefits. Because our motivation is high, our new supervisor and coworkers regularly compliment us — in sharp contrast with our former supervisor, who only irregularly talked with us.
Reality sets in
After months on any job, reality sets in and what was novel becomes routine. Our supervisor talks with us less as he considers us fully oriented, and he shifts to other priorities. Our coworkers’ quirks surface. Meetings that had seemed intriguing because we had so much to learn now bore us. Senior management that had initially told us they welcomed our ideas don’t act on them. Our new job loses its luster.
When this happens, try the following:
Focus on what’s right
When we’re focused on moving forward, we can become so focused on the next step that we forget the steps we’ve taken. If you feel your job walls closing in on you, widen your perspective. Take a moment and realize what’s right in your current job, coworkers and supervisor, and what you’ve accomplished both in landing this job and since you’ve begun it. If your employer has a higher purpose, whether becoming the best in the industry or achieving a mission of helping others, realize you’re a part of that.
Up your game
Have you been recycling discontent in your own mind or been waiting for your manager to offer you new projects? Perhaps it’s time for you to become proactive and speak with your supervisor about assignments that both contribute to your employer and broaden your skill set.
Are you boring yourself? Perhaps it’s you who needs up your game. Are you doing things in the way you’ve always done them? Are there new skills you need to learn? Do you need to develop new relationships within your current employer, or find other ways to become more visible and more of a decision-maker? Proactive action nukes boredom and increases your marketability both within your employer and externally.
Deepen your connections
When you develop positive relationships at work, it makes every day more fun. Are you someone who waits for others to reach out to you, or who eats the treats in the breakroom but never brings any? Do you share your expertise, or when others reflect on how you act, would they say you’re ambitious, but only concerned with yourself? What changes do you need to make to bring positive energy your way?
If you don’t either act or ask, you don’t get
Is there a business priority you need to align with and support, or have you wound up dead-ending yourself by acting with tunnel vision? Have you kept up with compensation trends and increased the responsibilities you’ve taken on, so you can ask for a raise?
It’s not all on you. Wise managers realize that employee morale and productivity can slump when a new employee’s initial romance with their job or company fades. Managers can keep the honeymoon alive by partnering with their employees in no-cost ways. If you’re a manager who notices your employees’ engagement flagging, start asking questions, such as “What has been a work highlight this month?” “What has been a lowlight?” “Are there projects you’d like to be involved in?” “What are your thoughts about our one-on-one meetings? How would you like to improve them?” If you’d like even more of these questions, check out pages 112-113 of “Managing for Accountability”.
Is your work honeymoon over? Like any other romance, perhaps it’s on you to fix the problem.
Lynne Curry writes a weekly column on workplace issues. She authored “Managing for Accountability,” “Beating the Workplace Bully,” “Solutions,” and www.workplacecoachblog.com. Curry is President of Communication Works Inc. Send your questions to her at workplacecoachblog.com/ask-a-coach or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10.