The Great Whine (with a little cheese)

"When do I get my life back?" yelled the manager as he completed his sixth straight week of more than 60 hours in the office. "You get your life back when I get mine," answered the director who has a cot in his office because sometimes it’s too dangerous to drive home on California freeways while exhausted. "I am going to HR," replies the manager as though Human Resources holds the secret power to make all things better. How disappointed he is going to be when he discovers the HR Director is going through her third divorce because job related travel has kept her away from family for 70% of the last five years. I empathize with all three of them. They are in a job that has become an abusive part of their lives and, in this economy, the fear of unemployment is extreme. But it is also a load of crap. It is whining which, while it may make us feel better, gets nothing solved other than to ensure that everyone around us is equally miserable.

Surprised by my response? You shouldn't be. After more than twenty years of hearing employees come to me with their complaints about there working conditions, I can name only five who had any real merit and those dealt with issues of safety or law. Most of it was they allowed their job to creep up to a level of unmanageability because of their fear of saying "No!"  Every time I hear, "I hate my job," my gut reply is... then change your job. This is usually followed by "I can't,” to which I say, "Have you tried?" This is answered with a "Yes" from them, which tells me immediately the answer is in fact "Not really," which is actually what they say after I ask them once again, "Have you tried?"  After about ten minutes of this, I usually end up saying, "Then quit," (which is where I know the conversation will eventually to end up, so I should probably just start the conversation with saying, "Then quit;" but it would mean a shorter conversation and more time filling out EEO reports... which has the equivalent fun level of riding the Dumbo ride at Disneyland for about seven hours).

"I don't want to lose my job!"

"You hate your job."


"Why do you want to stay in a job you hate?" For this, there is never an answer and, unfortunatel,y that is when the poor employee starts to slink back toward their desk and I have to call them back to finish the conversation. The bottom line is we have forgotten that our lives are owned by us. We have not sold ourselves to our job and we are responsible for just how crappy the job is. We have unwittingly given great power to the people we work for but fail to realize that it is actually our fault for giving them this power. 

You have the power.

The advice I give is simple. Take back your power.  Go to your boss and offer solutions to what you need. You don’t want 65 hours a week work, so explain how you will delegate some of your responsibilities to others. The benefit to the company is you will be better rested and focused. (Dark secret - most companies are really not the monsters you think they are.)

Consider a transfer to a different job title. It may mean less money, but it may mean time to watch your son hit a home run at a Saturday tee-ball game. You figure out the solution, you make it happen. Whining about it will solve nothing and annoy everyone. If you can't solve your problem, QUIT. If you tell me you can't QUIT, then go find another job… then QUIT.  I can honestly say every person I have ever had to fire or layoff went on to a better job.

So if you are coming to my office because your job is making your life miserable, just know that eventually I will tell you to go quit and find something you like to do. You are welcome to go through the motions, but at least bring some cheese with your whine.


Copyright © 2011 Mike Baumgartner | HR | Consulting | Coach |  Human Resources | Search - CEO, Worklife Survival Center LLC