Does your job/company/boss suck?

Lately, I’ve been talking with a lot of people who are in unhappy job situations. Their company is going through a reorganization. Heads are being cut. Different groups are jockeying for power. My people are uncertain what their next job will be. Or, if there is a next job in sight, it doesn’t look good. Lower level. Less interesting. Don’t like the boss. Low-performing supervisees. Or no supervisees at all.

They’re tempted to jump ship and get away from the negative environment, but it’s not exactly as if there are tons of better opportunities beckoning. A bad job is better than no job. And would another organization be any better? Are the known evils worse than the unknown evils?

It’s time to step back. This is the season when, whatever our religious or spiritual beliefs, we focus on gratitude, gifts, appreciation. And I often find that challenges are gifts in disguise. Contentment is nice, but it’s not the best spur to growth.

So, what can you do to find the gift in your lousy job/company/boss situation?

Reflect on why you’re discontented and what you bring to that. Write down every element of the situation that concerns you. Then ask yourself, what’s the learning opportunity for me in this? Your discontent is not about the circumstance itself – it’s about the meaning the circumstance has for you.


  • If the job is pitched at a lower level than you expected, or than you’re currently in – do you expect your hierarchical position to do the talking for you? What can you do with your personal power and effectiveness to make the role impactful?


  • If you’ve got a difficult boss or co-worker – what about him/her pushes your buttons? How can you behave differently, to better manage such a person? You know you are going to run into a difficult person again in your life, so why not use this opportunity to practice?


  • If a specific behavior or characteristic of the person is pushing your buttons – often this happens when the other person’s behavior or attitude is something we don’t want to acknowledge in ourselves. So ask yourself, is there any of that characteristic in me? Focus on managing your own tendency towards that very characteristic.

But, in the end, perhaps the job/company/boss simply isn’t a fit for you. How do you determine this?

Give yourself a time frame and design an acid test. I love acid tests. They put you in the driver’s seat. An acid test simply means you decide what you need in the situation, and by what deadline. Then, you do everything you can to influence your situation to provide more of what you need. Ratchet up the value added of the role. Build a relationship with the difficult person. Negotiate a new set of responsibilities.

In the end, you may decide that you are unwilling to remain in the situation. At that point, you will be resolved about bailing, because you’ve done everything you can, and learned. You aren’t reacting to getting your buttons pushed, which is not really choosing. You’ve learned what you really care about, and maybe what you bring to the situation.

Or, you may remain for a while and decide to leave. But if you do leave, you will have grown yourself, learned more about what you really need and want in a work situation, and also how you’ve contributed to your own discontent in ways that may not be necessary and that you don’t need to carry to the next situation.

View Joan Kofodimos's LinkedIn profileView Joan Kofodimos’s profile

About Joan