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It’s Monday morning, and the thought of facing that pile on your desk — and another week with your irate boss — fills you with dread. If this describes your situation, you probably fit into one of two categories, according to David A. Thomas, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. “You’re having problems with your boss, but you’ve never talked with him or her, or maybe you’ve outgrown your job and haven’t asked for more challenges.” If you’ve exhausted the recourses and/or possibilities presently at your disposal, it might be time for you to move on.
Unfortunately, many people sit stagnantly waiting for situations to magically transform. But change requires a personal effort. “There is no career fairy,” says Joe Watson, CEO of StrategicHire Inc. in Reston, Virginia. “Things will only get better if you take a proactive stance.”
Make an honest assessment. Before you can improve your work conditions, you have to determine the root of your unhappiness. Is it the work environment, or do you feel personally stinted? Are the concerns professionally based or are there personality conflicts? “Is it your relationship with your boss? Have you outgrown your job? Are your working conditions creating stress in your personal life? These are all questions that you should ask yourself,” says Thomas.
Talk about your situation. Communication in a company is a two-way exchange. Many employees complain that managers are poor communicators, but managers need feedback as well. If you don’t voice your challenges, frustrations, or concerns, no one will know that there’s a problem. “Find out what’s important to your boss or others around you,” suggests Watson. “If you can do this, you’ll be able to turn the relationship around.”
Know when it’s you. Are you at your professional best? Do you need additional training? Are you networking effectively within your company? Have you extended yourself beyond your duties, volunteering for special projects that showcase your talents? “We need to recognize the empowering nature of managing our own careers,” says Watson. Unless you take charge of you career, you’ll find yourself trapped in a dead-end job.
Know when it’s time to go. “All too often, African Americans stay too long at a job,” Watson says. “You don’t want to be in that position.” If you find that you continue to be unhappy with your current position, even after putting forth your best effort, asking for feedback, and taking on additional responsibility, it’s time to consider an internal transfer or a new job.