What exactly is job satisfaction? According to the Collins Dictionary it means, “The extent to which a person’s hopes, desires and expectations about the employment he or she is engaged in are fulfilled.” Truth be told though, it often means different things to different people and usually encompasses a lot more than just the role at hand. A good work-life balance and feeling as if you’re developing your strengths both in and out of the office are often factors that affect our overall mental health, self-esteem and confidence in our jobs too.
Thankfully though, there are some simple yet effective key skills that you can employ for making positive strides in the workplace. We asked Relationship and Career Coach Sue Powell for her advice when it comes to finding a sense of purpose and achievement in your job in the event that you’re looking to make the most out of where you are, or if you’re looking to move on in the not too distant future.
Whether you’re looking to improve your interpersonal skills, communication skills, teamwork skills or leadership skills, here are Sue’s top 5 tips for achieving a greater degree of satisfaction and success both in the short and long-term when it comes to your career.
1. Know and use your skills and strengths
Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you enjoy it, and just because you enjoy something doesn’t mean you’re good at it!
The best use of our talents comes from working where we can do it well and feel good. If you aren’t sure what your particular talents and strengths are, try the following:
- Think of previous work you’ve done that you’ve enjoyed. What about it did you particularly enjoy? What skills did you need to use?
- Ask your boss (including ex-bosses), some colleagues and friends. They usually love to help and it feels good to hear the good things they have to say.
- Complete the online Strengthsfinder , £16.99.
2. Cultivate a good relationship with your boss and peers
There’s an old saying that we join an organisation for the job and leave because of the people. So when you start a new job, ask your manager how you can work best with them and let them know how they can get the best from you.
For example, how do you like to be briefed on new projects, receive feedback (positive and developmental) and provide updates to your manager? Reflect on what works best for you and be prepared to discuss it.
Share your skills, talents and interests. Agree how you can get a level of autonomy and independence in these areas that will satisfy you both. Remember that managers will give you more independence if they can trust you.
Build trust by being open and honest; doing what you say you’ll do on time; being a positive contributor rather than a complainer; asking for help when you need it and offering help when you can.
3. Find purpose and meaning in your work
How does what you do contribute to the organisation’s business goals? If you’re not sure, ask your manager or peers. If your job didn’t matter it wouldn’t exist so what’s important about what you do?
Find out what the organisation’s direction is and what it wants to achieve. What inspires or excites you about it? How do you see your contribution to that?
How do you contribute to customers? And colleagues? How are their lives different because of what you and your organisation does?
4. Find a culture that fits you
Know what’s important to you and look for an organisation that shares similar values to yours.
Values are those things that are most important to you. They’re not things we own or have. When we respect our values, we live a more satisfying life.
Try these 3 exercises:
- What are the 3 things you couldn’t live without and why? Write down your answers. Ask yourself, what’s important about that to you? What does that represent? E.g. friendship, collaboration, independence and loyalty etc.
- Think of a time in your life that was the best it could be…what was happening, what were you doing? What made it so good? Write down your answers. What do you notice that is important to you? E.g. debate, taking a stand for something or someone, nurturing etc.
- What kinds of events make you angry? What value of yours is ‘hurt’ when that happens? E.g. honesty, kindness, respect, efficiency?
Imagine which values you’d like to live more at work? What action could you take to create more of that?
5. Develop yourself
We don’t all want to be the MD, (thankfully!). We can, however, get more from the work we do. Most people want an opportunity to grow themselves, stretch their capabilities a little or a lot and become more masterful at the things they can do.
Ask about job-specific technical training that you’ll be given when you start or when there are changes to your role or how you carry it out.
Find a mentor or coach to help you develop your interpersonal skills and confidence.
And, if advancement is what you want, make time with your manager to discuss the opportunities for future career progression. Depending on your role and your skills, this can happen in many ways including not just an upwards promotion, but a sideways move into a new function or division, or through project teams.