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Today's topic really made me feel uncomfortable - it forced me to rethink an accepted theory, at least one accepted by cubicle dwellers. That theory is that your job should make you happy, and the related thought is that your employer, if you have one, is somehow responsible for making you happy, and you should just work to make money. The flip side of that is that if YOU are the employer, it's your job to make sure that your employee is happy.
If you are an employer, have you found yourself putting people in positions just to get things done, instead of putting the right person in the right job? It may work for a short period of time, but in the end, you are shooting yourself in the foot and causing more problems. Take the time to find the right person for the right job - they'll be happier and so will you.
If you are an employee, are you taking responsibility for your happiness? If you are not in your dream job, what are you doing to get there? Are you just sitting and complaining, or are you working toward earning a degree or getting experience in your desired area of employment? If you are having personnel problems, are you trying to rectify the problems directly, or are you going around talking about what a jerk the other person is without ever confronting them personally?
If you are self-employed, or want to be self-employed, are you willing to sacrifice to learn the skills necessary? Are you willing to be patient as you network and build a client base? Are you willing to do double-duty as you work to support yourself and possibly others while you strategically and methodically plan out your new business? These are the things you must do if you will be happily self-employed.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that fact that "happiness" is based on happenstance, and that we really shouldn't be looking for other things and other people to make us happy. I believe we should focus on having joy, which comes from inner contentment and being at peace with ourselves and our circumstances, accepting what we cannot change in our lives at that moment, and doing what we can to better ourselves. Then our job cannot steal our joy, and we can transcend our circumstances and be at peace even with those who are not at peace with us.
So we are going to examine this thought from 3 directions: One, as the employer, another as the employee, and another as the self-employed.
First of all, let's look at it as an employer. If an employee is unhappy, chances are that you won't be able to make them happy. If they don't like their job, then shame on the employer for hiring them. However, if the problem is not the job, per se, but the environment (physically or relationally) of the job, then I believe it is the management's responsibility to, at the very least, remove whatever hindrances that may exist. It's in the best interest of the employer, because a happy and not-distracted employee is much more efficient and useful to the company.
Some employers do exist that actually ask their employees what they like and don't like about their job, and try to match their likes and dislikes with the appropriate job. However, I don't believe that is the norm. Normally, you are hired to do a job, and your pay is all you are expected to receive, nothing more.
From the employee's side, if it's true that an employer has no responsibility whatsoever to attempt to make an employee happy with his job, that seems to be a little bit like a death sentence, or at the very least, a sentence of 30 to 50 years of indentured service. That's just my opinion, of course. But there are some things that the employee has to take responsibility for if they want to be happy in their job.
Next, if the employee took a job that they didn't like in the first place, whether because it was a stepping stone to a job for which they were aiming, or because they needed to put food on the table, then they can't expect for ANYONE to make them happy. They have, in my opinion, dug their own grave. It is the employee's responsibility to find a job that, although it may not be exactly their ideal, it IS something that they enjoy doing.
If they want something else, then they need to train for it and attempt to get experience in that area. No one can do that for the employee - and rarely will it be handed to him on a silver platter. It's not the employer's responsibility to hand you a job you like if you are not the right person for the job.
And if the problem is not the job per se, but the environment, then it is also the employee's responsibility to try and make the situation as workable as possible. If there are problems or tensions between employees, the employee should talk to the other person to determine what the reason for the conflict is. They may have legitimately done something wrong to offend or anger the other person, but the offended party never said anything about it. Always take steps to make peace - it will benefit you as well as everyone around you.
If you are having problems with a manager, make sure that you approach them first to resolve the conflict. If that doesn't work, go to Human Resources. What employees DON'T know about Human Resources and what their rights are WILL hurt them. Document everything, and then go above your manager's head to their manager - but as I said, go to Human Resources first and make sure you follow the right chain of command.
Of course, we could say that the only way to be happy with your job is to work for yourself, but I know people who have their own business and hate what they do. That baffles me, and maybe they got into it because originally it was interesting, or the money was good enough to make it seem to be worthwhile to trade enjoyment for cash. But eventually, if you hate what you're doing, it will ruin everything for you, and your discontent will overflow into every area of your life. Honestly, it's just not worth it.
If you need to work, as most of us do, then try and find something you will look forward to doing when you wake up every day. If you are not trained to do it, then you need to start making preparations, financially and time-wise, to learn the appropriate skills. None of this will happen overnight, and if you are making the transition from employee to self-employed, then you need to be patient as you develop and build your new business. Plan on it taking 3 years to go full-time, and the business be self-sufficient. Start networking, building a client base, and accumulating the knowledge it will take to make you a success.
Posted on 05/23/05 at 20:30:04 by Penny Haynes