As humans, we are highly adaptable. So adaptable, in fact, that we’ll adapt our way right into something really horrible for us. Like putting up with a job that slowly makes us more and more miserable. We fall into the trap of complacency. We think that our job will get better.
I know this. You see, back in the ancient times of 1988, I was on top of a 30-foot tower when one of the guy wires broke. The 30-foot tower came tumbling down and me — strapped to the tower so as not to fall off of it! — came tumbling down along with it. Broken wrist. Broken pelvis and cracked in eight other places. Shattered ankle. Cracked heal on the other foot. Hospital for three months.
Sure, bad — but not as bad as a lot of other things that could have happened. The point, though, is that toward the end of the rehabilitation time — when still in a wheel chair, but not yet on cruches — the rehab place allows you to go home for a couple of weekends to help ease you back into home life. And after that first difficult weekend in a wheel chair at your home, you come back to the hospital’s rehab center with all the level, tile, floors. The wide aisles. The ease of rolling your wheel chair down the hallway.
It was a relief to get back into the hospital. And as soon as I thought that, another part of me went — no, the objective of being in the hospital is to get the hell out of the hospital and back to your home. Not in a wheel chair, but walking. Not looking for the ease of movement in a chair, but ease of movement from your own two legs.
Complacent. Easing into a situation where I was still in a bad place — a wheel chair — but thought it was okay. It wasn’t.
THAT is what happens to us on the job when things start to go a little downhill. A new manager where the manager is not as good as the previous one. Coworkers who change and are not as good as the group before. A company that doesn’t know how to manage their way out of a paper bag. And getting worse.
But it all happens so slowly, we don’t react. We just let it get worse, thinking it will get better. And it doesn’t.
Instead of slip-sliding your way into an increasingly worse job situation, you ask yourself how satisfied you are with different components of your job. You rate each component with a number from one to five — just like your performance review! — to see how you are doing.
And the key? You do this every quarter. And track your scores. Easy to see if your job satisfaction is trending better, worse, or staying the same.
When your job satisfaction is trending worse and worse — it’s time to leave. Either the job within the company or the company. By putting the survey on your calendar to take once a quarter, you won’t bias the survey by taking it only when you are ticked off. Or happy. But every quarter.
If you are not satisfied with your work environment, it starts to impact your performance — which makes the work environment even worse. By taking the job satisfaction survey, you can catch bad things happening earlier so you can do something about it.
Want to see a good example of a job satisfaction survey? People who sign up for my newsletter get a sample job satisfaction survey as part of their sign-up package. You can sign up for the newsletter right here.
Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations. In 2005, Scot started sharing these hard lessons at CubeRules.com, a site devoted to Career Advice for knowledge workers, whom he calls Cubicle Warriors.