Should  I Get A New Job Or Hope For Improvement?

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about one’s career direction:

I have worked at a recreational center for almost four years now. I work different attractions and ensure everyone is enjoying their time there. We are always interacting with customers as many kids come for birthday parties and are very excited to be there. Many of my coworkers are in high school or college like me, most of which don’t do their jobs as they should.

At our workplace, we have a policy against using phones while working, as we should, but the managers are on their phones in front of customers, which I feel is not professional. I feel this job isn’t as enjoyable as it used to be a few years back. But, a good thing about my job is they are flexible when I need a day off for an event as we have a pretty decent staff size. Because I am a busy college student with much going on, it is very helpful when management is helpful by letting me have the days off that I need. I am nervous that if I find a new job I will not be able to have the days off that I will need. So, the question I have is whether to get a new job or hope for improvement at my workplace?

Signed–Stay On Or Risk What’s New

Dear Stay On Or Risk What’s New:

Your question represents a common frustration about how their workplace is managed by employees who take their jobs seriously. You say some coworkers do not do jobs well and that managers don’t follow rules about phone use. Your question about whether to look for a new job or stay with what you got also is one that many employees have. It is one you probably will have again in the future.

I sense you have already answered your question for the time being. You are staying on and you are not looking for another job. Yet you feel that you would enjoy your job more if the place was managed better. Why might asking this question have some value to you and also to your workplace? Let me suggest several reasons:

  • It has caused you to think about what is takes to make a workplace function smoothly and effectively. The very act of describing a problem with employee performance and how to manage will help learn lessons important to your career. Wanting to acquire such know-how will motivate you as a student of organizational communication and also can make you eager to apply that knowledge. Thinking about what motivates you and fails to motivate your coworker is a byproduct of preparing a question to submit. Even writing a question such as you should motivate you to write accurately and to edit it so that you are clearly understood.

  • It can improve your ability to analyze what and why performance at your workplace is not what it should be, and also it can make you want to carefully investigate why. In short, it can make you see  yourself as a problem solver rather than as one who must bite her tongue–go along to get along.

  • It can motivate you to do what is reasonable to make things better for your work organization and in choice of future jobs.

  • Yet another benefit of submitting a question can come from scanning other questions and answers that have come to Ask the Workplace Doctors to learn if they are similar or different from yours. Doing that will forewarn of what to expect and forearm you about how to cope.

With these general values in mind, I propose several factors and options relevant to how you answer this question stay and hope or seek a new job. Some of these overlap:

  1. Get along-go along apparently is the choice you have made. Four years in this recreation business has earned you the benefit of scheduling work around your college studies. You are slightly uneasy about some coworkers and managers’ performance, but are not disturbed enough to complain or try to change their unprofessional behavior. To model good performance appears to be the choice you have made. Yet you wish things might be better.

  2. Informally encourage those lacking good performance and those who break phone rules to do better. Intuitively you know most people don’t want advice about how they are performing and they might see what you might say as meddling or bullying. If you choose this option, you must weigh how to and when to say anything. Common sense demands that what you say should be said constructively in good humor and not as a criticism, such as “Jamie, I like the way you are careful and polite when you lead the circle dance. This is the kind of leadership we all need to have to make our Fitness Center successful.” Or you might focus on feel-good moments and help coworkers to do that too. Focusing on specific times when you have done something that makes you feel good has an accumulative effect on your personal well being and blesses those with whom you work. It prompts you to compliment others when you see them perform in positive ways.

  3. Seek advice from those who set the standards and make the rules. This too can be informal, but probably will be more effective if you request a time-out meeting. that person, I’ll  call Sarah. Before you meet it would be wise to log several times you observes less than positive behavior, such as shouting over the mike orders like a sargent rather than as a coach or personally talking on a cellphone while people were waiting to get locker keys. Also before such a meeting, it would good to log feel good moments. Do not plop your log out front for Sarah. Rather keep it in your backpack and only refer to it should at some point in the conversation, you think it would help. I suggest the best way to seek help is to approach it as a request for advice about your career. You might say, “Sarah, I have worked here for four years and learned a lot about how this place works. I have come to realize how important we are to the health and happiness of our community. As you know, I and others like me, are earning money that makes it possible to get an education; I much appreciate how flexible you all have been by scheduling around that. I have requested this meeting for two reasons. First, because I want to learn all I can how to manage a big operation like this, and second, I want to know if I should stay in this job or seek other kinds of work that might help me prepare for a good career.” Such an introduction to a session  with Sarah should result in her asking, What are you thinking about? Or to say, “We value you and hope you are learning. Are there any ways we might help you? Or “Is there anything specific that has prompted you to meet with me?” You might respond in any of several ways, such as “I would like to know what you think about how well everything is going here?” Or you could say, “What have you learned about managing this place? Are there things you would like to be different?” This kind of conversation could be valuable to you in learning what management thinks and how to go about making a place successful. And help you decide to stay or seek jobs elsewhere.

  4. A more indirect option is for you to speak with whoever is in charge of people like you about what topics to be on the agenda of staff meetings. You might suggest topics such as: client relations, coworker communication, cutting wasted supplies, time, money, and staff team work. If you can get management to engage your staff in skull sessions on how things are going and what might we do to improve, the odds are that you will get a buy-in commitment to improvement and you’ll regain that good feeling you spoke about having years ago.

  5. Leaning approach. All of these options of your stay or look question underpin what you might do as a learning experience–learning all you can where you are now or seeking experience elsewhere of a different type. One site committed to advising young people in search of a career that matters is  called 80,000 hours. That site’s name was derived because 80,000 hours  is about what 40 years of work add up to. You are at an important time in your life. You want to find where you might make the most of the rest of your life.

Do any of these thoughts make sense? Can you apply them to your here and now decision-making about to stay or look elsewhere? Feel free to use these ideas as cues to finding if they work or if they prompt you to think of other options. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.  –William Gorden