If only 21 percent of the American workforce is “engaged” in their jobs, odds are you’re feeling a little out-of-step. That’s draining and troubling, because when you landed the job, you felt like celebrating! What happened? Well, you met the challenge of landing the job and you made it past the first exciting weeks of meeting new people, getting oriented to company resources and processes, and proving yourself. Now, well, it’s a job; the more proficient you become, the less challenging the job seems. It happens.
Then there is the question of whether you see your manager as a partner in designing your career. Studies show that a connection with him or her can make all the difference in whether you feel connected to the company. This link is so important, in fact, that social scientists use it as a predictor of turnover. But whose responsibility is it to make that connection? Communication isn’t something that happens to you, but rather with you. But how can you initiate it? Though most companies consider a “stay interview” to be a formal review process on par with an applicant screening process and an exit interview, only initiated at the request of the manager or H.R. department to help retain their key staff members, that is old school thinking. Doing your own internal stay interview and then asking your manager to set aside some time for a one-on-one discussion to talk about the findings may be just the booster shot you need to get over your career blahs.
Simply put, the typical stay interview is designed to address four goals, all of which are intended to let the manager know : (1) what you most enjoy about working for the company; (2) what you find challenging or frustrating in your job; (3) suggestions to possibly maximize the good stuff or lesson the bad stuff; and (4) discovering if your long-term aspirations are in line with company needs and goals.
Toward that end, here are some suggested questions to ask yourself as part of the process:
- Why did you take the job? What were your goals then, and are they being realized?
- What about your job most energizes you? On days you are excited to head for the office, why is that? Are you about to learn something new, demonstrate your own skill, or do you have a meeting or collaboration you’re looking forward to?
- What brings you the most joy in your job – detail work, big-picture thinking, collaborating, directing, or producing?
- What accomplishments have left you feeling like celebrating? Why?
- What policies, technology, tools, benefits, or projects do you think would help make your employment situation more enjoyable? Are they realistic or attainable?
- What are the distractions or frustrations you’ve encountered in your position? What was the source of the irritant? Is there a theme here that might be addressed in a positive manner? Is your frustration due to miscommunication, lack of training, lack of resources, co-worker conflict, or a management style?
- When was the last time you left work feeling drained, and why was that? How often, realistically, is that happening, and is there a theme or is each circumstance unique? Is it due to your personal coping style, or is it something that needs to be addressed at a higher level?
- What’s your personal development goal in this job? What mindset, training, encouragement or permissions do you need to accomplish it?
- What did you love most about your last job? What did you most dislike? Are there any patterns you see?
- If you could design your dream job, what would it look like?
Turnover tends to be higher in environments where employees feel they are undervalued, where they lack challenge, promotion or training opportunities, or where they are ignored. A feeling of disengagement is the first warning sign, but it can also be a first prompt to design the job of your dreams right where you are.