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Love It, Don't Leave It

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Whether for fear of an uncertain economy or reluctance to deal with the inevitable stresses of looking for work, many people feel unwilling or unable to change jobs. So they simply "quit on the job." They disengage, produce less, and bide their time in quiet dissatisfaction, making themselves, and often their coworkers, family, and friends miserable. But there is an alternative.

Love It, Don't Leave It provides readers with 26 ways to make their current work environment more satisfying. Presented in an appealing, accessible A-to-Z format, Love It, Don't Leave It includes strategies for improving communication, stimulating career growth, balancing work with family, and much more. Designed for workers at any age and at any stage, Love It, Don't Leave It helps people assume responsibility for the way their work lives work. Readers who try just a few of the strategies in this book may find that the job they want is the job they already have.

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Ask: And You May Receive


If you don’t ask, you’re less likely to get what you want. It seems so simple. Yet for some reason, people hold back. They expect their bosses to read their minds. Some just settle for less and bring half their hearts (or brains) to work. Others decide it’s easier to leave than to ask. Most people eventually realize that no matter where or with whom they work, at times they will want a little more of something. And the best way to get that something is to ask.

What you don’t ask for stays the same.


If you are a solid performer, your managers want to know what will keep you engaged (satisfied, productive) and on the team. They don’t want to lose you, physically or psychologically. 7

I wish he had just asked. I would have said, “Let me see what I can do for you. Let’s brainstorm how this might work—for you and for others.” Instead of asking, he jumped ship. I am so disappointed. We needed him. He had a great future here.

How ready are you to hold an honest, possibly courageous conversation with your boss, a colleague, a senior leader? How willing are you to ask for what you really want? Here’s how someone did just that:8


Buck: Don’t Pass It


Some people are tempted to hold others accountable for their work satisfaction. Most find over time that those others can’t—or won’t—deliver what’s wanted and needed. Ultimately you choose your career, your boss, your team, your organization. You decide how long to stay, and you have the power and influence to improve your work. Accept that re- sponsibility, complete with its challenges, and you’ll get more of what you want from your work and your workplace.

You may have heard that quote before. And you may even have found it annoying. Annoying, but true.

I pushed the snooze button again. It was Monday morning, and the last thing I wanted to do was get up and go to work. I drank another cup of coffee, dropped off the dry cleaning, and actually felt relieved about the traffic jam that delayed my arrival even more.

After months of feeling this way, I decided no one was going to do a thing about it—but me. My boss isn’t the type to have a conversation with me about my career, and no one was offering me an exciting new opportunity. 14


Career: Chart Your Course


Your career is your creation. So when was the last time you really gave serious thought and time to planning it? If you can’t remember, is it because:

Too many people allow one or more of these thoughts to delay or even paralyze their actions. They wait. For certainty. For their bosses to provide career maps. For a revelation about the next step. For a “time-out” from the current work, to ponder the next. The truth is that only you can make the time and the decisions that put your career on the right course. The payoff? Greater work satisfaction.18

I had done a great job here for twelve years. I knew that I’d be promoted eventually. I waited for the promotion and when it didn’t come, I finally asked my boss about it. He said, “Sorry, but in addition to your work experience, that job now requires a special technical certificate.” I had watched some colleagues taking those classes, but just didn’t realize it was such a big deal. This past year I took the classes and earned the certificate. Recently I finally got that promotion. Now I’ve gone “public” with my career goals. I talk about them with my boss and am constantly looking for ways to attain them. 19


Dignity: Give It to Get It


Aretha Franklin sang it—

“R.E.S.P.E.C.T—find out what it means to me.”

Aretha made a lot of sense (and cents, too) with her hit refrain. Respect has different meanings to different people. To receive it, you have to spell out what respect means to you.

The respect you get influences how much you love (or don’t love) your work. Many dissatisfied people dislike their jobs because they don’t feel respected—for who they are or what they do. If you don’t feel respected, don’t just wait and hope for your boss, colleagues, or employees to give it to you. Clarify what respect means to you. Tell someone what you want and need in order to feel more respected. Find ways to get more respect, right where you are.26

When I was promoted to a project lead role, I was told I needed to be more “leaderlike.” What on Earth did that mean? I asked several people that question, including my boss. She said that I was respected as a researcher, but not as a leader in the organization. She said (and others agreed) that I should speak up in meetings, that I was just too quiet and people assumed I had nothing of value to contribute—otherwise, I would have talked more.


Enrich: Energize Your Work


I’ve lost the energy and enthusiasm for my work. There’s nothing really wrong, except the challenge and excitement seem to be gone. I wonder if it’s time to move on.

Maybe it’s not time to move on. Maybe it’s time to look at how to breathe life back into your work—how to give it some CPR (Career Path Resuscitation).

There’s a good chance that you can enhance and energize your work, right where you are. And, if you like most aspects of the work (the people, your boss, the tasks you perform), it’s definitely worth a try. Enrichment means finding a way to get the growth, challenge, or renewal you seek without leaving your current job. Changing what you do (content) or how you do it (process) is the key.

Don’t resign yourself to “ho-hum” work. And don’t wait for your boss or someone else in the organization to put the spark back in your work. They may not even know you’ve lost it. Or they may not know what to do about it. Take charge and do something now to energize your work. 31

In judo, you use the momentum of the other person to increase your own energy and effectiveness. You build on the energy coming your way. Similarly, in job judo, the key is to build on the energy that comes from doing what you love. First, determine what really gives you energy. Is it:32


Family: Seen Yours Lately?


How’s your family? Is anyone complaining about not seeing enough of you? If you’re waiting for your boss (or the work/life task force) to recognize and address your need for work/life balance, forget it. It’s up to you to decide what you want and to go after it yourself.

And, by the way, the definition of family has broadened. When we asked people who their family is, we heard:

Our definitions of family may differ, but their importance to us is crystal clear. We want and deserve time with them.

I got the hint loud and clear when my five-year-old made a paperclip “chain” and strung it across the door to my home office. I was locked out.

Is anyone in your life trying to give you a hint? 38

You may think you’re trapped. You might believe there is no way to excel at work and have quality time with your family. But we’ve seen dozens of people effectively integrate career and family. Here are some of the creative strategies we’ve heard about. Think about which might work for you:39

My boss agreed that a colleague and I could try job sharing (each working half-time). That was ten years ago, and it has worked great. What a win-win for all of us!


Goals: Up Is Not the Only Way


The only career path I saw was up—and up was in short supply.

—Hundreds of workers we’ve known

What if the promotion you want is not available? What if the corporate ladder has lost a few rungs? How else might you move (and grow) inside this organization, if not up?

And who will determine what the “next steps” are for you? If you’re waiting for your boss (or someone else) to define and then deliver your career path, you might wait a long time. In this rapidly changing work world, the path becomes a moving target. The department or job you covet today could be gone tomorrow. And besides, you’re in charge of your own career. No one will ever care as much about your future as you do.

So, consider multiple career options and investigate them thoroughly. In so doing, you’ll get more of what you really want. As you look at the following options, ask, “Which might give you more choice and leverage? How many can you pursue at the same time?”

Goals are dreams with deadlines.

—Diana Scharf Hunt 44

I hope to move into a senior leadership role here someday. To prepare me for that eventual step, they’ve moved me out of Operations and into Sales. What a shock it’s been. Everything is different here—the culture, the way work gets done, the interface with customers. I’m out of my comfort zone—but I’m definitely learning.


Hire: Are You On Board?


The hiring process does not end when you land the job. You need to get on board effectively in the first months and then stay on board. Continually marketing yourself within your own organization is vital to your success and satisfaction.

Someone wanted you here. On your first day of work they said, “Here’s your badge [key, uniform, time card, ID, password, business card, cubicle]. Enjoy.”

Wait. What happened to the welcoming committee and the orientation? If the team or organization you joined has provided a wonderful welcome, a comprehensive orientation, and periodically checks on your happiness level, you are fortunate. But if they haven’t, don’t dismay and don’t wait. Pull yourself on board before you go overboard.

To get on board, you’ll need to understand the job requirements, the culture, the standards, the policies and procedures, the key players, the business, the mission, the vision, and the values. That’s a lot to learn.

The following checklist should start you thinking about what you need to know. (Note: Even if you’ve been in your organization for years, you might be able to get more on board.) 52


Information: Plug Yourself In


Even as kids we knew that information was power. We told secrets. I’ll tell him, but not her—that makes me powerful. As effective adults, we still want and, in fact, need to be in the information loop. Why? Because accurate, timely information enables us to:

Are you in the loop? Do you have the real story about what’s going on? In a perfect world, your manager and organization leaders would keep you in the know, especially during times of major change. But it’s not a perfect world—yet. For many reasons, you may not be getting the information you need to be satisfied and successful. If that’s the case, don’t wait for someone else to fill you in. Take charge, plug in, and get more information.

Have you ever felt like the last to know? That’s how I felt when I picked up the Sunday paper and read that the store where I worked had been sold to a giant chain. I’ve never felt so out of the loop, before or since.

You May Be Out of the Loop If:

If you’re out of the loop, don’t wait for someone else to be your informant. Do it yourself.


Jerk: Work With One?


The work is great, you like the organization and your team-mates, and the pay is good. If it weren’t for this one person, you’d be happy. But unfortunately, you work with a jerk.

Whether jerks come into your life in the form of bosses, teammates, or clients, their very existence can cause you to want to do something drastic, like jumping ship. Don’t do it—at least not yet. And don’t wait for someone else to fix it. There are things you can do to improve your situation if you work with a jerk. 65

Dozens of people told us that the jerks they know exhibit behaviors like these:

See Table

Research about our “emotional wiring” supports what we already know intuitively. We are affected by others’ feelings and certainly by their behaviors. That’s not because we’re somehow weak but because we are connected to others’ emotions in a profound way—whether we like it or not.66

(Note: We use the pronouns he, him, and his throughout this chapter, just to simplify the writing, not because men have the corner on jerklike behaviors. You’ll be pleased (or dismayed) to know that jerks are found among people of all ages, cultures, professions, and, most definitely, both genders.)


Kicks: Are We Having Fun Yet?


When was the last time you had a good laugh at work?

If your answer is yesterday, you’re probably smiling as you read this. If you can’t remember, you may work in a fun-free zone.

Somehow three of us stepped out of our offices at the same time, met in the hallway, and began chatting. I don’t even remember what we began laughing about, but all three of us were really laughing (not very quietly). Our boss stepped out of his office furious and red-faced and said, “Is this what I’m paying you for?” Most of us left within six months. Who wants to work for a fun squelcher?

For many people, fun provides a welcome (healthy) relief from sometimes serious, stressful, time-crunched work lives. If fun at work is high on your priority list and you see your 72

department, team, or organization as a “fun-free zone,” you could be tempted to bolt. Don’t do it. And don’t wait for your boss or the VP of Fun (some companies have one!) to cheer up your workplace. Take charge, get creative, and inject more fun into your work.73


Link: Build the Connection


Most of us treasure our connections. Linking with others brings us joy and adds immensely to our capability and success—in life and at work. Our research tells us that one of the top three reasons people stay with their organizations is because of other “great people.” Do the people you work with add to your satisfaction?

The competition was constantly coming after us—and they paid 20 percent more than my organization paid. Some people thought I was crazy to say, “No, thanks,” every time the enticing offer came in. But I felt like I could never replace the camaraderie of my team. They were the smartest, nicest, most fun colleagues I’d ever had.

When we say link, we mean teamwork, collaboration, interaction, sharing, information, coordination, and networking. All these activities are vital in this high-speed, high-tech, ever-changing world of work.77

Although some workers actually can survive for years in isolated jobs, they are as rare as real hermits. Most of us need that good feeling of being connected to other colleagues, other work functions, the larger goals of the organization, or perhaps a community of people outside the organization.78


Mentor: Make Your Own Match


W hat is a mentor? And who needs one? According to Webster’s, a mentor is a trusted counselor or guide, a tutor or coach. Given that definition, we all need one. Actually, we need many, throughout our work lives.

Does your organization provide mentors for new hires, high potentials, or special leadership programs? If they do, and they offer you one, say yes. But if they don’t have formal mentoring programs or you’re not included, don’t wait for someone to offer to mentor you. Identify what you want, and then seek those with the wisdom you need. You will find them, right where you work.

I searched for a mentor. I wanted someone who had “been there, done that” and who could advise me as I grew in my career. When I asked a highly respected woman to be my mentor, she gave me some great advice. She suggested that I find several people to serve in the role. She agreed to guide me but felt others could provide some critical skills training and insights that she couldn’t offer. So, I created a type of “brain trust,” made up of smart, talented people who can teach and counsel me, using their skills and experience, as I grow. They’ve been my mentors for the past three years and are making a phenomenal difference in my confidence and competence. 85


Numbers: Assess Your Worth


I need a raise. No, I deserve a raise. I’m working harder than ever before, and I’d like to be compensated for it.

—Almost everyone we know

In the film Jerry Maguire, one of Jerry’s clients, like millions of workers around the world, continues to ask for his fair share (or more). Our paychecks, in addition to buying food and shelter, become a critical yardstick for how much our employers value us. It makes sense we’d want more.

I want more. Does that mean

—or does it mean

Often what we think is all about money has very little to do with money. 92

Do you need to be

more than you need more money?93

If the answer is yes, go immediately to the “Rewards” chapter or back to the one on “Dignity,” and then read “Ask” (again). If the answer is no, read on.

Every morning I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I ‘m not there, I go to work.

—Robert Orben

Are you paid enough for what you do? How do you know? Quiz yourself:

How many times did you answer “not sure”? What additional beliefs or assumptions did you add to the list? 94


Opportunities: They’re Still Knocking


I left for a better opportunity.

—Said in thousands of exit interviews

Sometimes people say it on their way out the door just because they don’t want to burn bridges. In other cases it’s the truth—they leave in search of opportunities. They want to learn new skills, take on more responsibility, use cutting-edge technologies, or have other (or more) career options.

Many of their managers say, “We could have offered that. Why didn’t he/she tell me?” Yes, most managers could have asked their talented people what opportunities they wanted, but most employees who left also could have spoken up and asked for what they wanted. If they had, they might have found just what they were looking for, right where they were.

To uncover opportunities in your organization, tell someone you are looking for them!

Try this quick quiz to see how opportunity minded you are. How descriptive is each statement of you? Answer yes, somewhat, or no to each.99

If you answered yes to most of these questions, you are already opportunity minded and should find it easy to keep aware of favorable opportunities within the organization. If you answered somewhat or no to more than half of the questions, you may be “inert” or blind to available or potential opportunities right where you are.100


Passion: It’s Not Just a Fruit


Know anyone who’s said that lately? Have you said it lately? Here are the telltale signs of having passion-filled work:

That could be you.

On the other hand, if the thrill is gone, hours seem like days, the creativity well is dry, everything distracts you, you eat constantly, you’re always tired, and it definitely feels like work.

Loathing Monday is a lame way to spend one-seventh of your life.


To o many people expect their managers to provide exciting work. Yet many have never even told the boss which parts of the job they love most and what they’d like to change. How about you? Get clear about your passion, and then go after it!107

I love graphic arts and volunteered to start up the company newsletter. It was so well received that my boss asked if I’d continue working on future editions. I told him I’d love to do that but would need to hand off about 10 percent of my current workload to someone else. We created a solution together and now I’m turning out a first- class newsletter. I love my job!


Question: Go Outside the Box


Traditions, policies, standards, rules. We count on them to provide safety and stability in our communities and work- places. But sometimes those guidelines take on a life of their own. They multiply, they live in huge manuals, and they begin to stifle productivity and creativity.

They might also stifle your enjoyment. If you’re feeling blocked—by the rules, the culture, or the boss—don’t despair. There are things you can do to get out of the box you’re in and get more of what you want at work.

My team called the organization a “ship of rules.” It took dozens of signatures and often months to get the simplest request approved. We knew there had to be a better way. We got approval to try a new, more streamlined approach that we thought would save the company time and money and produce a better product, too. How could they say no to that? Our jobs are a lot more fun now, and the company president publicly thanked us for questioning a few of the outdated rules and procedures.

If you’re feeling boxed in and want to move outside your box, you need to understand it more clearly. What are the walls composed of? What’s the best escape route? 112


Reward: Reap Your Own


I spent hours helping him work through workplace dilemmas. Eventually, he changed careers and landed his first job as a high school teacher. Six months later he approached me at a meeting and said, “Because of you, I’m losing sleep at night.” I said, “Oh, no, why is that?” He said, “I love my work so much that I wake up thinking about what I plan to do in the classroom the next day. Thank you again for all of your help.”

I wasn’t paid for the work I did with him. Yet I feel a tremendous sense of reward. That feeling is renewed every time he receives acclaim from his school or forwards a student’s thank-you email.

Sure, money matters. Our paychecks not only help us sustain life, but they also are a measure of how much our employers (or our clients) value our work. Nonetheless, all reward experts (after thousands of studies stretched over six decades) agree that most of us want more than money from our work.

The best work never was and never will be done for money.


If you’re not feeling rewarded enough, think about why. Then take heart. You can get more of the specific kinds of rewards you want, right where you are.118


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