I was reading a few posts to one of my latest blogs (I read
all of them by the way even if I often dont have time to reply), and I am
sometimes disheartened by the negativity of peoples responsesnot toward me or
my posting, but to their job situations. If you comb the TR discussions or any
board where people can comment, you can find a lot of hostility and pent-up
frustration. Partly, this is a function of this kind of mediumin that peoples
responses are a way of venting in a safe place. However, I think there is more
to it than that.
First, there is the fact that working in a support function
(which IT typically is in most organizations) is very challenging. You have to
try to meet the needs of everyone, and for the most part, attempt to keep your
customers happy. Customers, by the way, who are stressed, as overworked as you
are, and often have no clue about or desire to learn more about the technology
tools provided to them.
Second, your work is often involved in/with organizational
change which is one of the hardest tasks to perform.
Third, if you go by many of the posts, decent managers are
few and hard to find. (I happen to think there are plenty of good ones as well,
but few write about them).
Now, given that I have just supplied you with three excuses
for why you might have a bad/negative attitude toward your IT job and some
objects of blame for it, I am going to say that our attitudes are our own
responsibility. What we bring to work, how we approach our work, and how our
work affects us is a function of our own personalities and personal choices
that we make every day.
Let me give you some examples of what I mean. I knew someone
who liked to grab every last minute of sleep he possibly could before waking
up, and when the clock went off he entered a frenzy: shower, mess with the
hair, shave, take care of a pet, and blow out the door as if his hair was on
fire. He would grab breakfast on the way to work and build ZERO flexibility
into his schedule so that any delay caused him extreme stress. Needless to say,
when he actually arrived at work, this frenzied mood stayed with him throughout
the day. While he was extremely effective at his job, he was not a happy person
Another person I know worked in a non-managerial support
function in an organization. She performed her job well, but was overly
concerned with the performance and decision making of management in her
organization. And while the concerns were legitimate, she did not have the power
to change things.
In both of these situations, much of the individuals job
stress was self inflicted. For the first person, all it took was getting up 30
minutes early to change how he approached the work day. Suddenly, the day
didnt start as a crisis, and he had a major attitude change. The change was
somewhat forced upon him by a spouse, but over time he came to see the wisdom
of this shift.
The second individual failed to realize that the thing she
was stressing about the most simply was not in her job description or pay
grade. While workplace stupidity can be aggravating, it is also pretty common,
and it’s something you need to be able to deal with. Thats not to say that you
cant attempt to change your organization for the better, but keep in mind what
YOUR responsibilities are and dont sweat the things you can’t control. Do your
job as well as you are allowed to do so.
I know another individual (me) who worked for an
organization that paid him well to perform a task but then placed every road
block possible in the way. This organizational ineptitude did not keep me from
successfully performing the task. I worked my tail off to accomplish the
objective, but during the time I was working on it I was extremely unhappy. I
finished the task on time and on budget, and then got the heck out.
In our jobs, we often fail to take a reality check of our
situation and to step back and examine things as an outside observer. Is the
situation at work truly intolerable, and whose fault is it really? How much of
your misery is contributed by yourself? Only you can control your attitude and
emotions and how you react to situations.
We also box ourselves into situations that, in fact, we have
the power to change, but we may not have the guts to do so. Many people stay in
bad work situations for many years hoping for a miraculous change or because
they feel that their circumstances prevent them from leaving. In fact, we
usually create our own jail.
I went unemployed for nine months at the height of one of
our nations worse job recessions primarily because I limited my job search to
my hometown or somewhere nearby because of family. I had also just built a new house a few years before and didnt
want to leave it. But you know what? No one wants to live with a miserably
depressed person simply for the sake of staying in one place. I could have had
other jobs during that time – had I had the conviction to move. Eventually, I
came to my senses and realized that hard decisions had to be made and that some
changes were going to have to be made in order for life to get back to normal.
While it was hard to do, I left my new home, my friends, my extended family,
and my wife and I relocated in order for me to find the kind of job I wanted.
It wasnt easy but life goes on, and we are doing better now career-wise than
we ever have.
All of this is to say that we have a great deal of control
in shaping our realities. If you hate your job, try to rationally determine
why. It may be you, it may be the job, and it may be a combination of things.
Figure out what they are and DO something
about it, whether that is changing personal habits, getting training, going
back to school, talking with your boss, seeking counseling, moving on to
another opportunity, or even a new line of work. Just dont suffer due to
inertia or fear.
Lastly, there is no such thing as the perfect job.
Even if you are in one of those situations in which your work is also your
passion, there will be things that make you want to scream. Thats why its
called work and that is why they pay you for it. So take a deep breath, make
some private time, and do a self assessment. Its a healthy thing to do and it
keeps you growing, both personally and professionally.