Gallup recently released its report on "The State of the American Workplace," based a survey of millions of employees. They discovered that about a third (30 percent) of American workers are "engaged and inspired [by] a great boss" while a fifth (20 percent) "have bosses from hell that make them miserable [and] roam the halls spreading discontent."
But what about the other 50 percent? What's up with them? According to the survey, these workers--all 50 million of them--"are not engaged [and] just kind of present, but not inspired by their work or their managers."
How sad is that?
The Gallup report has many suggestions for managers to improve their ability to inspire and engage those workers, but I'm don't think that's going to work. It's simply not reasonable to expect mediocre bosses to suddenly become great bosses.
Which means that, if those 50 million "uninspired and unengaged" workers want to be happier at work, they're going to have change themselves rather than waiting for the good management fairy to wave a magic wand over their mediocre boss.
Needless to say, I'm a big proponent of better management, as illustrated by posts like "9 Ways Not to Be a Bosshole" and the "The 8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses." Even so, I believe everyone would be better off if they followed these daily rules:
1. Cut your boss some slack.
Truly exceptional bosses are relatively rare. Mediocre bosses are simply doing the best they can with what they've got to offer. Most mediocre bosses wish they were better, and may even be trying to home their management skills. Just like everyone else, your boss is a work in progress.
2. Become more self-reliant.
It's easy to be "engaged and inspired" when a boss provides that mental and emotional energy for you. It's much more of a challenge when your boss lacks those skills because then you must find the energy within yourself. There's a big advantage to this though: you won't be dependent upon somebody else to be happy at work.
3. Focus on what's good about your job.
If you're not "engaged and inspired" it may be because you're focusing on the wrong things. Maybe you're obsessed with all the paperwork, but forgetting that those documents help other people. Maybe you feel burdened by the hassles of getting anything done, rather than celebrating when something does get done.
4. Set some inspiring goals.
If you're just "hangin' in there" and waiting for something good to happen, you'll probably be waiting for a long time and maybe even forever. Having goals puts everything you do at work into perspective. Goals, and a determination to achieve them, can turn even a boring job into a valuable process of "paying your dues."
5. Decide to enjoy the moment.
You know those signs at the mall with an arrow that says "You are here"? Well, life is like that, too. You are here. This is where you are in your career. Are you going to extract some pleasure and joy from the experience or waste your energy wishing you were someplace else. It's up to you. It's your decision!
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