Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
You may have noticed some of the changes going on around here. I’ve been talking more about developing your strengths and living your passions. This is what we should all be doing. We need to leverage what we already are good at and develop the skills we are passionate about.
Many of you don’t get to apply your strengths and passions in your careers. I was talking to a client of mine about these issues. She knows what she is good at, but can’t seem to make the transition. Her boss gives her the same work day after day that makes her unhappy.
As we continued to talk I began to see a theme. She did not want to say “no” to the crappy work or negotiate to get the work that excited her. She felt stuck.
Take Back Control
This scenario happens millions of times a day. People do work that they dislike because they are afraid to take control of their career. They think that if they continue to do what is asked of them they will be rewarded. This is wrong. Most people won’t get rewarded for doing as they are asked. The rewards come from doing something out of the ordinary. I know every culture is different. I’ve only worked in American, Icelandic and German cultures, so I can’t speak for everyone, but these three cultures want employees who go for the unexpected.
If you want to put yourself in the position to create a project that unexpectedly “wows” your manager and colleagues, you have to negotiate.
You need to ask for work that will make you happy. I worked along side a colleague who negotiated her way to a promotion. It was actually very cool to watch. If our boss made her do something terrible like send out 1,000 letters, she would counter with, “No problem. Do you think I could also work on bringing in a free speaker for our meeting next month?”
Her boss hated to say no. Her boss knew she was dumping a crappy job on her and felt like she needed to be rewarded.
My colleague wanted to be in HR. She loved helping people learn, so she jumped on any opportunity to practice these skills.
How to negotiate your job duties
1. Use emotional leverage.
If your boss wants you to do some tedious task that they don’t want to do themselves, try saying, “Yes and I would also like to (fill in blank here).” Like my friend, you can use your managers emotion’s to help your career.
2. Get results
Once you ask for a task that you enjoy, you must do an amazing job. That means double and triple checking your work. My friend brought in a fantastic speaker who “wowed” the company. Everyone thanked this woman for making the meeting enjoyable.
3. Reinforce the good feelings
Once you do this extra task, ask how your manager feels about the results. Is she pleased? If she is pleased then you can use this tactic again and again until you are doing the work that makes you feel energized all of the time.
These skills can help you negotiate a new position, find a job that’s a better fit, or start your own business. My friend got the promotion she was after and now she is doing work that she actually enjoys. She had to take a risk and so will you, but if you never ask, you’ll never build up your skills to do great work. If you aren’t creating your foundation now, there is no way to launch in to a career that will make your heart sing.
Announcing a Contest
Next week I will be announcing a contest at Work Happy Now. So stay tuned because my passion train is rolling and I want to help you.
* Are you on Twitter? Then join over 3,000 people who get my stress relief tips, happiness ideas, and thought provoking quotes. @workhappynow
* Nathan Hangen wrote a really cool piece. I’m not a fan of the title (Utopia is within Reach), but the message is wonderful.
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Image courtesy of Matthias Wagner