We spend so much time at work, more time than we spend with our family, friends and loved ones. Why stay stuck in a job, doing things you don’t enjoy, with people you don’t like?
When I first started my coaching business almost 20 years ago, I worked with relatively new managers who were unhappy in their job. I would focus on what else they could do, and what other roles would appeal to them. However, this usually led to resistance and all the reasons in the world why they couldn’t leave. Often this related to benefits that are linked to the role that they didn’t want to lose. Such as: end of year bonuses, discounted interest rates for mortgages, long service leave just over the horizon, accrued medical leave, and so on.
If you feel stuck, it could be because you are not working to your strengths, or there is a values mismatch between you and the organisation, your boss, or the team you are part of. It could be that you are managing a team that haven’t gelled, or there is conflict or distrust.
If you are in a management role for the first time, you may be struggling to lead your team. It is assumed that when people move from a ‘doing’ role to a ‘managing’ role, they will know how to manage. Little thought is given to training or supporting these managers to learn to lead. I find that new managers (and not so new!) turn into control freaks or micromanagers to ensure the work is done ‘properly’ as they are anxious to succeed. There is so much to do, and it is often quicker and easier to do it than ask the team to do it. This leads to overwhelm and exhaustion for the manager, and frustration for their team as they are not trusting them to do it. That’s when bad behaviour can start to occur and they are managing people in conflict with each other, performing poorly, and who don’t pull their weight.
If this is you, suddenly you don’t like your role and wonder what you have got yourself into. You start to feel you don’t have any strengths and can’t seem to do anything right.
Feeling stuck in a role happens when you feel you have no control over your situation. Taking back control will reduce this feeling of overwhelm and start to open the space for you to find ways to enjoy parts of what you do. Taking back control doesn’t mean doing more and more and becoming even more of a micromanager! It means understanding what you should be doing at this level of seniority and what your team should be doing. Put the effort in to get to know your team, and step into their shoes. What are they good at, what do they like to do, and how can you help them achieve that? Level up your communication skills and have open and frank conversations with your team.
I’ve worked with leaders and watched them go from stuck in a role and very unhappy, to unstuck and loving what they do. This is inspiring. They now love what they do, and their team loves working together. Watching their overwhelm diminish and their thinking change is liberating.
When you are unstuck you:
- Understand what you should be doing and what the team should be doing
- Can let go of the technical work and let your team get on with it
- Understand that there are different ways to achieve a result
- Empower the team
- Focus on meaningful, well-defined goals and outcomes that align with organisational purpose and strategy
- Focus on the work you should be paying attention to and is appropriate for your level of seniority while doing less of the work that your team should be doing
- Build your team’s capability so they start to perform better and, over time, take on more responsibility appropriate for their level
- Look up and out, and strategically focus on the future for your team.
Imagine the difference – now you are in a fabulous role, doing things you enjoy, with people you like.
Being unstuck requires new skills, be prepared to become a learner again.
Authored by Maree Burgess.
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