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Change Work July 2012

The trouble with people

Last month I discussed some published data on the factors affecting job satisfaction, with "job security" being the most important.  This is consistent with the general employment situation that continues to be highlighted in the media, and all that publicity presumably affects people's perceptions of what everyone else is feeling.

My own survey asked about the factors causing job dis-satisfaction and I think this led to a more personal interpretation. The results were certainly different, with "job security" being totally absent!

I've grouped the 41 responses into broad categories:

 Lack of skills      1

   2.4%

 Lack of self-confidence     2    4.9%
 Time pressures      2    4.9%
 Business systems      3    7.3%
 Career development      3    7.3%
 Own time management      3    7.3%
 IT systems      3    7.3%
 People management   12  29.3%
 Behaviour of colleagues    12  29.3%
   41   100.0%

The last two categories account for more than half of the responses.  They both refer to things that other people do - either managers or colleagues.  Presumably, the respondents were frustrated by their own inability to influence those others.  And, as I'm sure you know, when you feel powerless to change something that's wrong or uncomfortable, or you are given more and more to do without the tools you need, then you are likely to experience stress.

The Health and Safety Executive's formal definition of work-related stress is:
"The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work."  They go on to note that, "Stress is not an illness - it is a state. However, if stress becomes too excessive and prolonged, mental and physical illness may develop."  So everyday annoyances can sometimes have serious consequences if they persist.

Many, or most, of the bigger tasks you face at work cannot be completed alone.  You need the cooperative efforts of others in order to get the job done.  If there's no help forthcoming, or if there's actual obstruction, then the job can seem impossible.  And just because it's someone else's failing that causes the immediate problem, it's still perfectly possible to blame yourself for falling short.

When you are challenged by a difficult task, or many tasks coming at once, you can respond either resourcefully or unresourcefully.

In a resourceful state you are focused on what you can do and how to do it.

In an unresourceful state you are focused on what you can't do, leading to fear and panic.

Once you set a goal and commit yourself to achieving it then things usually start to change.  Not least, your frustration and dissatisfaction will be replaced by excitement and determination as you begin to notice the opportunities that have always been there but you never noticed before.

You've probably heard this before, especially if you've read a few of my newsletters, but how does this work if the problem you want to solve lies in what other people (like your boss) are doing?  How can you make them change?

Well, you probably can't in the short term, but really you don't need to.  The issue isn't what "they" do or don't do.  It's how you choose to respond to them that makes the difference for you.  Learn to make better use of the resources you already have and there's no limit to what you can achieve.