Do this today
Take a moment and assess the balance of how much you are giving to your job vs. how much it is giving back to you in return. Is it equitable? Are you receiving more than you are giving? Or is your job taking more than it is investing back in you?
I can’t stand it when bad things happen to good people.
I’m sure you’ve experienced some pretty bad things in your professional life. You might be going through this right now in your job. If so, read on to learn more about how you can address that.
Conversely, it really bugs me when good things happen for bad people. Yet, if you work in the corporate world long enough, you will witness both things happening. A lot.
Sometimes, you will be in a position where you can do something about that. You can reward the good people and punish the bad. You can help talented, generous, and hardworking people get ahead in their careers.
You can also try to help others change their ways before it is too late. Because, one day, it will indeed be too late. People don't forget those who mistreat others to claw their way to the top.
Eventually, karma comes calling.
A long time ago, I had a conversation with a colleague. Our corporate culture and the negative politics frustrated me. After years of trying to change things and make it work, I was feeling burned out from frequent re-orgs, leadership changes, and strategy shifts. I mentioned I was starting to look for new opportunities, but I was worried that joining another company might end up being more of the same.
I felt like I deserved better. But how could I ensure I would find better?
He looked surprised and said, "Why look for another job? You should start your own thing. If you build your own company, you get to define the culture from the start."
It was an excellent point. You can either find something better or create something better.
Long story short, I did. I left the corporate world over 12 years ago, created my own businesses, and never went back. I consulted for a while, founded a tech startup, but eventually found my way to coaching. The practice of coaching captures the essence of what I loved the most about leading teams.
Listening, advising, guiding, giving feedback, and being a sounding board for decisions.
Being the person someone can turn to when nothing else is working.
Helping people solve problems.
Helping people “find better.”
Yes, we do a lot of that as managers and leaders. Or we should be! But there is always some tension between the needs of the individual and the needs of the team. You're always walking that tightrope and balancing your empathy and compassion with what you need to do for the good of the company.
However, as a coach, I have incredible clarity, focus, and purpose. I am in your corner. I don't work for a company. I work for you. I am 100% focused on helping you succeed, thrive, be happy, and find fulfillment.
I finally get to help good people when bad things happen (with no conflict of interest). I get to help set things right. I believe in people, coach them, and encourage them until they regain their confidence and believe in themselves again.
As a coach, I help people navigate the three phases of leaving a bad situation and demanding something better for their professional lives.
Recognizing when you deserve better.
Understanding why it is so essential to find something better.
Working through how you actually find something better.
How to recognize when you deserve better
No one expects a job to be 100% sunshine, unicorns, and puppies. But, I think we all recognize when a job isn’t fulfilling us, our boss is always treating us poorly, or we finish work every day feeling down. We know we deserve better.
Maybe all you have is a nagging feeling that something isn’t right at work. Or, you assume every job must be like this. You think the grass may not be greener anywhere else, either. It is what it is. So, you put up with it and keep showing up.
However, I’m here to tell you that you deserve better if one or more of the following 13 issues continue to be true for your job day after day and week after week:
Your boss makes you feel like “less.”
You feel less confident than you did before you took this job.
You’re no longer growing or being challenged.
Your value isn’t recognized or appreciated.
Your input is always dismissed or ignored.
Your manager criticizes or humiliates you in front of other employees.
You’re underpaid, and your manager keeps promising to make things right but never does.
Your manager doesn’t respect your work-life balance boundaries.
The energy you put into the system isn’t returned (note: a great system returns even more value for your contribution).
Your coworkers are dragging you down.
You feel drained at the end of every workday.
You feel hopeless, and you’re dreading the next day at work.
You feel like your career is at a dead end.
Of course, no job is perfect. There will be good days and bad days. You will experience some normal ups and downs during your career. But, if most of your days are bad and you spend most of your time feeling down, you must make a change.
When you work in a negative environment around negative people, it can have a lasting impact on you and your career.
Why you need to find better
The longer you stay in a negative situation, the more damage it does to you. You start to internalize what you are hearing and experiencing.
You stop believing in yourself.
You lose confidence in your abilities.
Your ambition fades.
You stop striving (i.e., “quiet quitting”).
You won’t reach your full potential.
You won’t get promoted.
You’ll earn less in your lifetime.
The longer you stay, the harder it gets harder to land a better job.
Ultimately, you’ll achieve less in your lifetime.
Also, terrible managers can do a lot of damage to your future career. Yet, if they get results, companies tolerate their behavior. The ends justify the means. And the problem is, the working world is still full of so many bad managers.
They cause burnout with unreasonable expectations and demands.
They destroy your confidence, which takes months or years to recover.
They can tarnish your reputation.
They can blackball you during reference checks.
Life is too short to tolerate this kind of toxic environment. Spending every day around a toxic boss and/or coworkers is no way to live.
You’re a good human being who deserves to be treated better. We all do.
So, what are you going to do about it? How will you ensure you don’t end up in another unpleasant situation working for another bad boss?
How to find something better
We’ve all experienced bad personal relationships. And I think we’ve all learned to take some time before the next relationship to understand what went wrong, learn more about who we are, and be more careful about who we get involved with next time. Right?
Well, the same thing can be said about work relationships. You don’t want to leap into your next job until you understand what went wrong in your previous job. You don’t want to end up in yet another terrible working relationship with someone.
So, slow down, reflect on things, do your homework, make a plan, and find a healthy professional environment for your next move. You want to end up with a good boss and a great job that will help you recover your career potential and optimize your future success.
1. What went wrong?
First, take time to understand what went wrong and why. Was the situation objectively bad, or was it just wrong for you?
What wasn’t working for you?
When did you first notice that something was wrong?
Was something off with your role, responsibilities, expectations, etc.?
What did you learn from the relationship with your boss?
What did you learn about the company culture?
What did you learn about your relationship with your coworkers?
How can you spot the red flags ahead of time when you explore your next opportunities?
2. Define better
Next, define what “better” means for you. If you don’t figure out what you want and what’s right for you, you may end up in the wrong company, working in the wrong role, or working for the wrong type of person again. Your definition of better could include:
A better job that plays to your strengths.
A better company with a healthier corporate culture.
A better and more supportive boss.
A better manager who mentors you and helps you grow.
Better projects that help you advance your skills.
Better coworkers who partner and collaborate with you.
Better support for accommodations you require.
3. Do your homework
Someone recently asked me how they could ask enough questions during a job interview to really understand what the manager is like, get the truth about the company culture, and know what they were getting into.
My answer was, “You can’t.”
Those few minutes you get to ask questions during a job interview will never be enough time to learn everything you need to know. You must do your research ahead of time. Dig, dig, dig. Leverage your network to learn more about the company and the management team.
If things go well and you receive an offer, do even more research before you commit. Talk to current employees. Talk to past employees, too. Find people who will tell you the truth about the company and your potential new boss.
Don’t be dazzled by the superficial flash and external veneer. A big name and big money aren’t worth it if you end up being damaged for months or years by a bad work experience.
4. Find your support system
Your network is one of your most valuable professional assets. They can help you find new opportunities that are a good fit for you, your personality, your skills, and your talent. They will also do the right thing and connect you with healthy companies and good managers.
All of my corporate jobs were because of my network and thanks to my “inside champions.” I knew what I was getting into before I even started interviewing.
So, find or create the support system that will help you succeed. Connect with people who want to help you find “better.”
Create your inner circle of peers who support you but also challenge you. They’ll remind you when you’re settling for less and should seek better.
Join a community that will lift you up and encourage you to pursue what’s best for you.
Find a coach who will believe in you until you believe in yourself. Someone who will be just as upset as you are when someone isn’t treating you well. Someone who will say, “Ok, that’s enough of that. You deserve better! Now, let’s help you find it.”
As a coach, that's my purpose. That's why I created my coaching business. It’s why I do what I do.
I'm here for the good people who deserve better. I'm here for the talented people who should be getting ahead. I'm here for the people who are tired of suffering at work under poor leaders.
5. Never settle for less again
You should never settle for less. Life is short, and your prime career years are even shorter. When you settle, you deny yourself what you could have achieved and who you could have become.
I know the working world can sometimes be a frustrating, cold, dark place. But no one should feel hopeless, and no one should feel alone. I'm doing my best to bring a little more humanity, light, and warmth into the professional world. I hope the articles I share help with that!
There are good companies out there. There are good bosses out there, too. The challenge is finding them.
Work is a significant part of your life. You can find a job (or build a business) that is meaningful and fulfilling.
You deserve that! Never settle for less.
If you’re interested in checking out the latest chapter from my book, I published it here.
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I've been enjoying the Invincible Career newsletter by Larry Cornett (@cornett). If you want to get ahead at work and be happier in your job, but you aren’t subscribed yet, you’re missing out.
Larry Cornett is a Personal Coach who can help you optimize your career, life, and business. If you’re interested in starting a business or side hustle someday (or accelerating an existing one), check out his “Employee to Solopreneur” course (launching later this year).
Larry lives in Northern California near Lake Tahoe with his wife and children, and a gigantic Great Dane. He does his best to share advice to help others take complete control of their work and life. He’s also on Twitter @cornett.