Working at Google sounds very cool. Having interviewed there myself, I’d be the first to tout Google as a motivating employer: Fat paychecks, sweet perks, engineers who are enabled to spend 20 percent of their time on their own projects, intelligent colleagues, and a work environment that fosters play and creative thinking. At Google, Genentech, Intuit, SAS, Adobe, Boston Consulting Group, NetApp, Mercedes-Benz USA, Container Store, REI, Accenture, DreamWorks, Kimpton Hotels and other Fortune magazine top 100 companies, employers offer dream workplaces.
At the same time, perks that enable employees to spend all of their time at work exploit people and destroy work-life balance. Thanks to a candidate I interviewed this week, I was reminded just how important this is. So, even the best employer may not be best for everyone. These are the factors that will help you find happiness at work.
1. Choose to be happy at work
Happiness is largely a choice. I can hear many of you arguing with me, but it’s true. So, dwell on the aspects of your work you like. Avoid negative people and gossip. Find coworkers you like and enjoy and spend your time with them. Your choices at work largely define your experience. You can choose to be happy at work just as I have done.
2. Do Something You Love Every Single Day
You may or may not love your current job and you may or may not believe that you can find something in your current job to love, but you can. Trust me. Take a look at yourself, your skills and interests, and find something that you can enjoy doing every day and your current job won’t seem so bad.
3. Take Charge of Your Own Professional and Personal Development
A young employee complained to me recently that she wanted to change jobs because her boss was not doing enough to help her develop professionally. I asked her who she thought was the person most interested in her development. The answer, of course, was her. You are the person with the most to gain from continuing to develop professionally. Take charge of your own growth; ask for specific and meaningful help from your boss, but march to the music of your personally developed plan and goals. You have the most to gain from growing – and the most to lose, if you stand still.
4. Take Responsibility for Knowing What Is Happening at Work
People complain to me daily that they don’t receive enough communication and information about what is happening with their company, their department’s projects, or their coworkers. Passively, they wait for the boss to fill them up with knowledge. And, the knowledge rarely comes. Why? Because the boss is busy doing his/her job and doesn’t know what you don’t know. Seek out the information you need to work effectively. Develop an information network and use it. Assertively request a weekly meeting with your boss and ask questions to learn. You are in charge of the information you receive.
5. Ask for Feedback Frequently
Have you made statements such as, “My boss never gives me any feedback, so I never know how I’m doing.” Face it you really know exactly how you’re doing. Especially if you feel positively about your performance, you still like the acknowledgment. If you’re not positive about your work, think about improving and making a sincere contribution. Then, ask your boss for feedback. Tell him/her that you’d really like to hear their assessment of your work. Talk to your customers too, if you’re serving them well, their reaction is affirming. You are responsible for your own development. Everything else you get is gravy.
6. Make Only Commitments You Can Keep
One of the most serious causes of work stress and unhappiness is failing to keep commitments. Many employees spend more time making excuses for failing to keep a commitment, and worrying about the consequences of not keeping a commitment, than they do performing the tasks promised. Create a system of organization and planning that enables you to assess your ability to complete a requested commitment. Don’t volunteer if you don’t have time. If your workload is exceeding your available time and energy, make a comprehensive plan to ask the boss for help and resources. Don’t wallow in the swamp of unkept promises.
7. Avoid Negativity
Choosing to be happy at work means avoiding negative conversations, gossip, and unhappy people as much as possible. No matter how positively you feel, negative people have a profound impact on your psyche. Don’t let the negative Neds and Nellies bring you down. And, keep on singing in the car on your way to work – or start.
8. Practice Professional Courage
If you are like most people (myself included), you don’t like conflict. And the reason is simple. You’ve never been trained for meaningful conflict, so you likely think of conflict as scary, harmful, and hurtful. Conflict can be all three; done well, conflict can also help you carry out your work mission and your personal vision. Conflict can help you serve customers and create successful products. Happy people accomplish their purpose for working. Why let a little professional courage keep you from achieving your goals and dreams? Make conflict your friend.
9. Make Friends
Answer this questions, “Do you have a best friend at work?” Liking and enjoying your coworkers are hallmarks of a positive, happy work experience. Take time to get to know them. You might actually like and enjoy them. Your network provides support, resources, sharing, and caring. Sounds cheesy but its true.
10. If All Else Fails, Job Searching Will Make You Smile
If all of these ideas aren’t making you happy at work, you can always decide to quit. Before you make a harsh decision spend time evaluating your employer, your personal goals, your job, or your entire career. You don’t want to spend your life doing work you hate in an unfriendly work environment. Most work environments don’t change all that much. But unhappy employees tend to grow even more disgruntled. You can secretly smile while you spend all of your non-work time job searching. It will only be a matter of time until you can quit your job – with a big smile.