In teaching others about Managing with Aloha, I spend a good amount of time on Ho‘ohana, the value of worthwhile work, explaining how you can still work with intentional focus on certain things which are important you, even though your present job may not be the one you think of as your final career choice.

We recently considered this here at Lifehack.org in this article: Create Your Best Life at Work with One Question. The question was, “What’s in this for me?”

There are several reasons that people change jobs, restlessly seeking the one they can both live with and work within. Based on my personal experience, these are the three significant ones:

We change jobs because:

  1. We didn’t select the right job for us in the first place.
  2. We don’t get along with our boss.
  3. We don’t feel a connection to those we work with.

The solutions for each of these are in our circle of influence. We have choices, and the only questions are a) if we will own up to how we ourselves can effect the change necessary to break out of the on-the-job rut we may find we are in, and b) if we are willing to do the work it takes.

This is not a comprehensive how-to listing, but in the spirit of Lifehack.org and the proverbial “20 that gets you the 80,” here are a few thoughts and suggestions.

To get the Right Job

This is the biggie in my view, because if this is the problem for you, reasons number 2 about your boss, and number 3 about your co-workers are a moot point. On the other hand, if you love your boss, and you love your co-workers, they become traps that keep you in the job that may be wrong for you— remember you can convert your relationships with those people to friendships, and move on.

In moving on, the single best question you can ask in a new-job interview is, “What are the core values of this company?” If your personal values are a match your work alignment will be so, so much easier. If not, getting them aligned will be very difficult; you open the door to workplace overwhelm and dissatisfaction before you even pass probation.

Get selfish. In this case, selfish is not a negative word but a smart strategy. Bob Walsh wrote a great post here called, I want I do I get that will give you some inspiration with this.

To get the Right Boss

You have to manage up well, and whether or not you like hearing this, the reality is that managing up well can usually be reduced to making things easier on your boss by being a great employee. No boss will make life miserable for the person on staff that they count on most.

Decide on the relationship you want with your boss, and then create it. Don’t assume and make this hard on yourself, just ask them, “How do you prefer we work together?” Be brave enough and direct enough to renegotiate the working agreement they ask you for if you feel it necessary, and then deliver on what you both agreed on, so your boss will to.

To get the Right Co-Workers

To paraphrase Ghandi, be the change you wish to see in your world. Set the example you want your co-workers to follow, get involved in change discussions at work about systems and processes so your input is considered in better solutions, volunteer to lead projects, and be the poster child of great work ethic.

The strategy here is twofold: No one likes to work with co-workers who are mediocre, and like attracts like. As you perform better, you raise the bar of performance others have to live up to in the entire department or company. Second, this is a way to get your boss to do their job, coaching everyone to high levels of performance; you help them see the possibilities, challenges, and opportunities in jobs that they themselves are not in, but are required to empathize with.

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Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business. You can also visit her on www.managingwithaloha.com where she regularly writes about value alignment in business, as with Ho‘ohana.

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