First off, you’re not alone. 85% of people hate their jobs according to a 2017 Gallup poll. I’m not saying they have suggestions for improvement. I’m saying out of every 100 people, 85 of them say they hate their jobs. Shocking, right?
If it was 10–20%, maybe you could say it was them. But when we are talking about such a large majority, it is clearly the fault of the companies, not the people. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do.
Let’s find out why you hate your job.
Step 1 was just to ask the question.
Mentally, there is a huge difference between saying “I hate my job” and asking “Why do I hate my job?”.
The former is a complaint, and the latter is a question.
A question gives answers, and answers can become ideas and then action items. A complaint gives no answer.
Let’s ask some more questions.
Do You Hate Your Manager?
This was the number one reason given in the Gallup poll. And that shouldn’t be surprising.
Your manager is your primary point of contact with the company. There is no one with more ability to make your life a living hell for 8+ hours/day.
And there’s nothing you can do about it… right? Well, that depends on what’s going on.
Does my manager hate me?
In most cases, your manager doesn’t hate you. But it’s really easy to feel like they do, especially if, like me, you suffer from social anxiety.
The solution is to talk to your team members. See if they have similar issues with your manager. If they do, that’s evidence that he might just be a bad manager.
Be smart with the way you talk about this with your co-workers. “Isn’t Mr. Rogers a terrible manager?” is not a good question.
“Can you tell me about your last manager? Was his managing style similar to Mr. Rogers’ style?” Will draw out any anger they feel for your manager in a much safer way.
If you are the only direct report of your manager, then ask anyone else that works with your manager.
Should I confront my manager?
Yes and no. You are going to talk with your manager, but don’t make it a confrontation.
Do you have a weekly or bi-weekly 1×1 meeting? That’s the time to talk. If you don’t, then get them to put one on the calendar. Nobody ever succeeded by not getting feedback.
You’re in the meeting with your manager Now here’s the real trick. Ready? Just ask questions.
If an accusation leaves your lips, you’ve ruined the entire purpose of this meeting.
Ask what you can do to improve. Ask if your career trajectory is on track. Ask if there is any career training he would recommend.
How did any of this tell me whether my boss hates me?
It didn’t. And it doesn’t matter.
Do you know the difference between a boss that hates their employees and a bad boss is? There isn’t one. They are both bad bosses.
But if your boss is willing to take the time to meet with you and give you career advice, they have taken a huge leap toward being a better boss. Keep those meetings going, see how the conversation progresses.
You have shown that you care. And you have opened the lines of communication.
Sure, that was technically your manager’s responsibility. But I assume you wouldn’t be reading this blog if you weren’t willing to go above and beyond.
Now the hard part. Give it some time. See if this improves the relationship with your manager.
Do You Hate Your Company?
Company culture is a huge part of the work experience.
Take a great mission, a great role, a great manager, and mix it with toxic company culture, and what do you get? A terrible job. Nothing can break through that toxicity.
What if the toxicity is isolated to my team?
Now we are back to a bad manager. It’s a manager’s responsibility to maintain the culture of their team. Talk to them. Tell them what is going on with the culture. Be specific. Help them set up a game plan. Ask them if you can have a team meeting about it.
If it’s truly localized, there may be something you, together with your manager, can do. Not to get corny here, but be the change you want to see in your team.
Here’s the sad truth though. It’s usually not just your team.
Talk to members of other teams, see if the problem is more pervasive than you knew. I’ll bet it is.
What can I do about company toxicity?
Is your company just 30 people? Talk to the people at the top. They are the ones who need to enact change. As I stated with your manager, be specific with the issue and help them set up a game plan.
But what if your company is bigger? A single employee is probably not going to change the company culture at Apple (I’m assuming you aren’t Tim Cook. If you are, then let me be the first to say “OMG, Tim Cook read my blog post!!!”).
If you are at a massive corporation with bad company culture, your only recourse is to leave. And you should. Time spent in a toxic environment is bad for your mental health and usually for your career.
When did I say the company culture was the problem?
Fair point, imaginary rhetorical writing partner.
If instead of the culture, it’s the company’s mission that bothers you, that’s probably not going to change either.
If you are a vegan working for a meat-packing plant or an atheist working for the catholic church, you probably just need to move on.
I had a co-worker once who wasn’t enthused about the services provided by his company. His general defense was, “At least we’re not making weapons”. If I were him, I would have left that company long ago.
Hating your company’s mission is bad for your enthusiasm, your work ethic, and your mental health.
Do You Hate the Tasks You Do?
You’ll never love 100% of the work you do. If someone tells you they do, they are lying.
But you can still love the essence of your job. I love data. Thus, I got into data science.
I don’t like manipulating excel spreadsheets. But that’s not at the core of my job, it just happens to be a necessary evil.
Think about what is at the core of your job. Do you hate that part? If you do, then it’s time to get a new job.
What If I like my current company?
This doesn’t have to mean switching companies. Talk to your manager. See if there is a role on the team or at the company that would be a better fit.
If you are a good employee and they are a good company, they would rather have you doing something you love because unhappy employees are unproductive employees and/or flight risks.
Before you go and talk with your manager, be sure you know what you want. The more specific you can be about what is bothering you and what you are desiring, the more they can do to help.
And what if the tasks I hate aren’t the core of my job?
Don’t do them. If they are bothering you that much, and they aren’t a core part of your job, figure out why they are even on your task list.
You cannot take this route with every little annoyance, but if there is something so terrible that it is bringing you to read articles like this one, then find a way out of it.
Talk to your manager (noticing a pattern yet?). Let them know how much that part of your job is bothering you, and see if it can be differently delegated or if it is even necessary.
No process is perfect. It’s very possible that the task that is making your days miserable doesn’t even need to be done.
A Final Word
That’s the trend you probably noticed throughout this entire post. You would be amazed at how many people are miserable at work just because they don’t speak up about it.
And I’m not talking about griping and complaining. I’m talking about opening a dialog with the people that can make a difference and offer to be part of the solution.
Do you know what happens to employees that dare communicate with and offer advice to their managers and other higher-ups, resulting in positive change on a team or company level? They get promoted.
Don’t believe me? Go try it. If you already hate your job, what do you have to lose?
If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this action item. If you aren’t meeting with your manager at least on a biweekly basis, set up those meetings. They are one of the best things you can do for both your job and your career.