"What I want doesn't matter."
When I met Wanda, she wasn’t very happy at work. “I feel bored,” she said. That’s not something you can tell your manager! You might say her relationship with her job was on the rocks, but nobody was talking about it yet. A big problem that, as it turned out, had a remarkably simple solution.
Through some basic measurements it became clear that Wanda was naturally inclined to be interactive and verbal. Unfortunately, she worked at her desk all alone, dealing with data and with things. She was good – very good – so her employers piled on the work. Talking to other people was a distraction from the task at hand. And yet her preference was to relate actively with other people. In our book, Four Secrets to Liking Your Work, we call this Inspiring behavior.
When I asked Wanda why she isolated herself to do her work, she said “that’s how you work.” I pushed the issue a little more and got the real answer: My Dad was an employee at a big company, and I learned from him to keep my mouth shut and do my work. “But,” I said, “that’s not how you WANT TO work, is it?” Her answer was “What I want doesn’t matter.” Yikes.
Fortunately Wanda came around. She learned some words for what she needed: “I’d like to work in a more team-oriented settting.” This is a MUCH better thing to say to your boss than “I’m bored”! And, as it turned out, it helped.
When the problem is defined, the solution is clear. Wanda found such opportunities, without quitting, and became a lot happier and also more productive.
If you had to put your workplace misery into words your boss could understand, what would they be? (If you're not sure, you can try a free self-assessment and see if it helps!)