By Nicole B. Dhanraj, PhD, CRA, RT(R)(CT)(MR)
Managing has its share of rewards. The biggest satisfaction as a manager stems from influencing positive and productive change in our employees and work environment, as well as engaging our team to reach beyond their potential. This influence we as managers possess benefits our respective organizations as it translates into increased quality, higher patient satisfaction, and improved clinical outcomes.
However, sometimes (or most times, in some of our cases), there can be tougher issues which drain our energy. There are also issues we just cannot resolve no matter how much energy we devote to resolution. Over time, our job passion bank steadily declines as we bang our heads in frustration and/or anger. At some point the joys, the stimulating challenge, and the thrills of working even the most interesting or rewarding job may come to a screeching halt. We are no longer the energetic, passionate, wide eyed, and bushy tailed managers rearing to go.
Many people state that those who are close to retirement or those that work in government jobs are the ones who typically lose their mojo. But this is untrue; anyone’s excitement for their job or role can decline at any time. The reason for decline does not necessarily have to be due to burnout, but the overall stress of the job, doing more with less and still not producing substantial results, or a lack of support by our team, or worse yet, our leadership.
I have previously heard manager-level jobs referred to as “mortgage holders.” It is the only reason why managers accept the stress and the headaches that managing brings. Supposedly, managers are caught between the painful pangs of applying for a job, moving to a new organization, and starting fresh, which often comes with lower benefits, and that of the lifestyle or benefits they have established. Once a manager has crossed the five year mark, it is believed that the manager is locked into the job. There can be no consideration of leaving for whatever reason because there needs to be a source of income. So there is no choice but to face the daily grind, regardless of how dull, draining, and languid we become.
When the self-realization that you no longer enjoy your job is upon you, it’s time for some self-diagnosis. How do we remind ourselves of our purpose and keep our momentum consistent? Here are ten steps to help rejuvenate your mind that hopefully will reignite your spark to maintain your momentum for the benefit of your team, the organization, and more importantly, yourself.
- Understand your environment’s limitations. Sometimes no matter how much you want to change for the better, the organization’s culture or political environment may not be malleable to your changes. Instead, it’s important to step back and evaluate what the environment can tolerate and where you fit in, and then work from there.
- Understand your organization’s culture. Today’s workforce is more diverse than ever before. It is important for managers to understand the motivations of each employee and work within that knowledge to get things done and bring about change. Change is difficult regardless. However, it is even more difficult when you do not understand the motivations and behaviors as it relates to culture. Taking time to educate yourself will reduce conflict and unnecessary resistance to change from your employees.
- Pace yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and while there may be many fires that need taming, trying to extinguish all at the same time can be too draining of your energy. Choose your battles carefully and prioritize. Set goals and deadlines to maintain your momentum and productivity.
- Seek help. The moment you recognize the job is losing its attraction, discuss your issues with peers. Sometimes it takes a few pep talks to get back into the swing of things. Harboring the negativity is not good for yourself or your team. Your team feeds off your attitude, and as the saying goes, attitude is the little thing that makes a big difference!
- Focus and stop multitasking. Sometimes we overwhelm ourselves with lengthy to do lists or just by the sheer amount we try to squeeze out of every day. There will always be work and yes, we will be blamed for not doing it, or being delayed. Don’t think you have to be a superhero. If you managed to squeeze 25 hours out of the day, the next day you will attempt to squeeze 26 hours and continue to overwhelm yourself. A quick solution: prioritize and delegate. This is not a sign of weakness!
- When all else fails, take a break! Don’t be afraid to acknowledge you need to rejuvenate yourself physically and mentally. It’s important to recognize this before burnout sets in. While workaholics are appreciated, a great strength is to recognize when we need to step back and rejuvenate to maintain our mojo.
- Recognize that the grass isn’t always greener at other institutions. Yes, sometimes we are ready to walk out or turn in our resignation. However, most organizations have the same problems, just on different scales. You can be leaving one hot frying pan for another. In times of frustration or declining job satisfaction, we cannot be too hasty to resign hoping that there will be greener pastures on the other side. While it may be tough to drink the current organization’s “Kool-Aid” that everyone seems to be enjoying, it’s best to regroup and refocus before making hasty decisions.
- Learn a new skill. If you are losing the thrill due to the monotony of the work, consider learning a new skill that will benefit both you and the organization. If you are not able to afford going back for a degree or attending an in-person conference, consider the many free courses available on the internet.
- Adjust to keep up. Are the work hours becoming longer and longer? Is there no longer any type of work-life balance? Or are you no longer willing to compromise your life? You do not necessarily have to become frustrated or lackluster. Instead, you may need to negotiate some flexibility, consider scaling back on projects, or simply asking for extra help. It’s of no use to grit your teeth when only you are aware of your issues. Talk to your leadership, or adjust projects, timelines as needed.
- Remember your purpose. Lastly, remind yourself of your “why” and keep that in focus-provided that it wasn’t just to receive a paycheck! Keep in mind that passion does not exist in a job, but within ourselves. When we rekindle that flame within us, it naturally shines through to our jobs and the roles we fulfill. Your team is depending on you!
Like any workplace hazard, there are measures in place to counteract losing your mojo. Hopefully as a manager/supervisor, we are able to recognize when the hazard is impacting our abilities and our attitudes and engage the necessary solutions!
Nicole B. Dhanraj, PhD, CRA, RT(R)(CT)(MR) is the chief of radiology at Guam Memorial Hospital in Tamuning, Guam. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.