Job satisfaction is a function of many different parts of work. Job satisfaction dips and flows. New bosses, new strategies, new ways of doing things. It's easy, if we're not careful, to simply accept that our job satisfaction won't ever be at a level where we are engaged in our work. We'll hold on a little longer. It will get better, we think.
But, if you don't look hard, two years goes by and boom...nothing has changed.
Our job and perceptions change over time. What is important to the work now is different than it will be a year -- or manager -- from now. But how do you look at your work to rate it? In my view, there are five areas to examine.
Your manager is your most important customer. And the biggest threat to your career. Most people leave their jobs because of a manager. Consequently, your relationship with your manager is a key component to your job satisfaction. How well does your manager match up to how you like working? How well does your manager delegate tasks? How well does your manager listen and act on your suggestions?
Your coworkers are the group of people you work with the most (they may or may not report to your manager; this could be a matrix-managed team). Much, if not most, of your time and work deliverables are associated with this group of people. The dynamics of a team are different for manager and project. When a team member leaves the group and another joins, the team dynamics change. Sometimes drastically.
How does your team make decisions? How good are those decisions? Does each team member take responsibility -- and accountability -- for their work? How well is the team perceived by management?
Culture is what the rules are for how you can get your work done. Do you have to consult with the entire department or can you make a decision on your own? Are your ideas accepted and considered for implementation? Or if it wasn't invented here, your ideas don't matter? Does the culture reward performance or is the culture about the high school "in" crowd?
Cultures rarely change over time. When they do, it's usually because there is a change in leadership. Even then, it's the leadership trying to overcome a culture if the culture needs changing. In my opinion, the only way the culture changes is to change the people in it. If that doesn't happen, all the institutional barriers to change stay in place.
Job skills are the foundation for employment security. Unless you continually use, improve, and add to your job skills, you won't be as attractive to other employers looking to hire you. In cost-cutting times, training (and travel) are the first things to go.
Companies, though, are expecting people to come into the work place with all job skills fully functioning. Companies rarely provide the resources, training and time to develop other job skills or improve the ones you have. If you work in a company where that type of training or support is available, it is a plus.
Your personal needs change over time. People get married, start raising a family, and parents have needs. All of a sudden, that nice house in the country chews up valuable time commuting to work. Or your level of tolerance for office politics changes because your personal situation has changed.
What you are doing in your life impacts your perception of work and the satisfaction from the work.
You have a different manager than your friend. Different coworkers. Different companies and culture. Different personal needs. People forget that business is social. Social situations are dynamic. Thus, we need to evaluate our work to ensure we're still doing what's right for us. The company won't care. Or maybe it will. But not that much.
It's up to us.