Working too hard and getting nowhere?
Do you get the feeling that you’re working too hard? Or that you’re under-valued or under-appreciated? It’s a common complaint because it’s a common problem. Many organisations struggle to reward those who produce the most work or come up with the highest quality work.
For people in that situation it can be frustrating enough to plough through mountains of work for little or no reward and that frustration can turn to despair if you see people less qualified and less competent being given the rewards you believe you deserve.And it’s even worse if someone gets a promotion to a higher-paid position or to one which you believe you are better equipped to handle.
It can be difficult to control that envy and prevent it from affecting your work. The question “What’s the point?” is likely to be asked. That is understandable and the fact that a senior manager believes somebody else is better equipped for the task needs to be addressed. It may seem unfair, it may be a case of poor judgement by that manager, but the fact is that it cannot be denied.
So what is the problem? There are several possibilities:
1. You do not put yourself forward or display your strengths
Those around you might have skills and strengths that you are not aware of. It is possible that they are more highly qualified than you think. If an individual is particularly adept at displaying his/her strengths the manager will, understandably, be very aware of those skills. Co-workers may have been proactive, expressed interest and had discussions on career progress that you weren’t privy to.
So do you put yourself forward? How? When? Or are you waiting to be discovered?
You need to improve your ability to display your strengths. If you have correctly assessed your skills as being superior to those who are being given upgrades that you believe you’re entitled to perhaps it is time to examine your ability to make people aware of your accomplishments. But it must not be done in a bragging way or in a way that makes you look like a shameless self-promoter, It is important to make those in positions of power aware of the work you are doing.
2. You know your manager has poor judgement
Mistakes happen in the world of organisational change and you need to consider it as a possibility. Going over and over the circumstances of someone else’s poor judgement is keeping you stuck. What can you do about it?
Change your frame of reference and stop rehashing past decisions. Look for new opportunities with this manager or with others in the business. Be strong, rise above the politics and demonstrate how brilliant you are. Make that manager, or better still that manager’s manager, realise how great you are.
If you ruminate for more than two months make a change. Be proactive to help yourself.
3. You need to objectively assess your performance
Have you received specific feedback on your work? Don’t wait for it, ask for it. Get definitive feedback, not vague generalisations. There may be a big gap between your perception of your work and that of your managers or colleagues.
Use 360 degree online assessments. They are not expensive and you can initiate them (see for example Skills Indicators Online).
People who seek feedback and are interested in self development are usually perceived as higher performers and once perceived as a higher performer they are treated accordingly. From that feedback you can see what skills need developing and what under-utilised strengths you can discuss with your manager.
4. Your work is strong but people skills are lacking
This is an important element of frustration, with more senior roles often requiring a more integrated method of working which is heavily reliant on high emotional competence and communication skills. If you are a bit of loner, preferring not to work with people, it is less likely that you’ll be offered a position where you need to swiftly develop communication, networking and presentation skills. Do some work on that. It will pay off the next time you present a business case, sell an idea, influence a decision or go for a job interview and it will help you to do better.
5. Your skills don’t match the demands of the new position
So what should you do?
If the position is too demanding and you are constantly stressed find something else or suggest that your manager should reassign the role. If you believe your work output is well in excess of the rewards/appreciation you are receiving and there is no way to improve the situation, so that you are constantly unfulfilled, start looking elsewhere.
No one should be unhappy at work. Take responsibility for your own job satisfaction and career moves.
Eve Ash has produced a wide range of programs on career development, job interview skills and skill assessment – including 360 degree feedback tools. Follow her on Twitter @Eveash.