At some point in your career, you’re highly likely to run into a bad boss, toxic coworkers, or an unpleasant work culture. But before you start job-hunting, here are three key steps you should take.
1. Remove your emotions from your decision-making. When you’re angry or frustrated or feeling slighted, you’re likely to make decisions that are more about “I’ll show them” than about the outcome that will be best for you. So the more you can step back from the situation and look at it objectively, as opposed to letting your emotions drive you, the more likely your decision will be one that you won’t regret later on.
2. Next, figure out what you can and can’t change. Often, when people are unhappy with some aspect of their job, they suffer silently rather than speaking up. You’re better off trying to figure out whether there’s a way to change things.
Sometimes things can change once they’re brought to the surface. Other times they won’t. But once you’ve tried, you can make better decisions for yourself with more complete information.
For instance, if you hate that your manager micromanagesyou, consider talking to him or her. Be calm and professional, explain what you’re noticing, and suggest solutions. But keep in mind that the goal here isn’t just to try to fix the problem – it’s also to figure out if there’s any hope of fixing it! If you learn that your manager will never change, that’s important information for you to have as you consider what to do next.
3. Know your bottom line. If talking about the problem doesn’t solve it, and all signs are pointing to a low probability of anything changing, your next step is to decide whether you can find ways to live with the situation and still be reasonably happy. If you can’t, you’re probably better off accepting that so that you can start looking for ways to move on. But often, if you accept a workplace difficulty as part of the package, you can find ways to live with it more comfortably.
A useful step in doing this is to get really clear on what your bottom line is: what things matter most to you, what trade-offs you are and aren’t willing to make, and what you value most. For instance, maybe you can’t stand your manager but you love having a short commute and you’d rather keep that commute, even if your manager is part of the deal. Or maybe you’ll decide that you’re willing to triple your commute if it means getting a new boss. There are no right answers here – it’s just about getting really clear in your own mind about what matters most to you.
No matter what you decide though, the key is to survey the situation calmly and rationally and make decisions based on how things truly are rather than how you wish they were. That’s a lot more satisfying than a constant struggle.