New Year, New Job?
If one of your new year’s resolutions was to find a different job, you’re probably not alone. A recent report from the Office of National Statistics suggested that around 15 per cent of us are ‘somewhat, mostly or completely dissatisfied’ with our jobs.
But it might not be the job itself that’s the problem. ‘Frustration with poor management’ was cited as the biggest reason for stress at work, closely followed by ‘unrealistic targets’.
As an employer and consultant working with a variety of management styles and organisations, I have noticed two things about effective and successful businesses; both of which allow staff to reflect on their progress and to identify and celebrate their achievements.
- Employees have clearly stated objectives
- Employees receive regular and consistent feedback about their performance.
But as an employee, how do you go about turning the job you have into the job you want?
The Greek philosopher Epictetus had the right idea when he said: ‘First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.’ This is the cornerstone of goal setting – which is one way of taking your career into your own hands. But goal setting is more complex than just saying ‘I want to do x, y or z’. It is a way of establishing the direction you want to take and providing you with the time to reflect on the areas you want to develop.
A useful way to begin to set goals for yourself is to consider where you want to be in say five or ten years time, and then break this down into smaller steps.
To goal set effectively you need to consider some or all of the following:
- What – exactly – do you want to achieve? Remember that effective goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time limited)
- How important is the goal to you?
- How will you go about achieving it?
Another acronym SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats, Opportunities) is also useful in goal setting. A SWOT analysis allows you to map out the factors and individuals who can help you achieve your goal, as well as those that may hinder you. You can then set about completing any gaps in your knowledge or experience to help you get to where you want to be.
Negotiating a pay rise
Another cause of stress in the workplace is pay. And negotiating a pay rise can add to that stress, but by applying the same analyses can relieve some of that stress. Here are some things to consider when asking for a raise.
- Do your homework – research what others are getting for the same or similar jobs, both in your own organisation and elsewhere.
- Build your case – think about your responsibilities are and how much time you spend on different aspects of your role. Have your responsibilities changed since you started in the post? Do you have to manage extra staff or fulfil other roles that are outside your job description?
- Put your case forward. It is really important you pick the right time to do this. If you ask for a raise during a really busy or stressful time for your employers it will probably not do you any favours. Instead, use this time to demonstrate your worth and wait for your next performance review to raise the issue of pay.
- Discuss, negotiate and take time to consider what you are offered: What would you like? What would you settle for? What would make you look elsewhere? This can be a difficult process, but being clear in your own mind about what you want and why you deserve it will make the whole process much easier.
Goal setting allows you to take control of upcoming events, and deal with them pro-actively. But conversely you may also identify ‘deal breakers’ and ‘non-negotiables’ in your work situation. If you are truly unhappy with your job, or the remuneration you are receiving for it then may be it is time to look elsewhere. But going through the process of goal setting and SWOT analysis before you leap will ensure you are in a much stronger position when looking at new opportunities and positions.