Are you happy at work?
How do you measure your job satisfaction? Do you assess how much you like what you do, how many hours you work, how much you are paid, how well you get along with your coworkers, and how closely your values align with the organization’s value?
That’s a good start. But I want to bring your attention to something else that is critically important.
In higher ed. administration, it is not uncommon to see a low correlation between effort and results. We can all think of committees, work groups, or task forces that meet regularly for years without accomplishing something truly significant, at least not often enough to make us feel accomplished. Some projects seem frozen in time.
There is a lot of busy work on campus and not much time to step back and re-evaluate old decisions and habits. We tend to do things the way they have always been done. Managing change is typically a painful process that is received with much resistance, so we keep it to a minimum.
And what do we get as a result? Slow movement or even stagnation. We can try to pretend that it is normal but it will inevitably affect job satisfaction. What’s the point of working so hard when you can’t move the needle much?
Progress is terribly underrated
Progress is invigorating! It gives us purpose. It gives us something tangible to see as the fruit of our hard work. Progress means we continue to learn, grow, and achieve. We are not just busy, we do something that matters!
If you have had the same job for many years, I invite you to reflect on how much progress you have been able to make lately. It’s not the time to blame yourself or anyone else. Just observe what you see.
Too often, administrators talk about barely keeping their head above water, trying not to drown in never-ending projects. They dream of catching up! Being all caught up in their work seems like a utopia that never comes true.
That feeling of always being behind is a job satisfaction killer. So stop spending your days reacting to what is thrown at you and trying to catch up. Just stop. Take a breath. Start thinking critically.
How to make more progress where it counts
To increase your job satisfaction and feel more productive and effective, follow these steps.
1. Get clear on your priorities
Chances are, your attention is scattered and you try to do too many things. Take some time to reflect on your top priorities. What must you do to feel accomplished? When and how can you block off time on your calendar to take care of your priorities?
2. Reduce your workload
Most administrators have a tendency to take on work that isn’t theirs to do. Sometimes they let others pressure them into volunteering for projects that aren’t a good fit. Other times, they jump in to rescue others who are feeling challenged, instead of training them to allow them to work independently. Have the wisdom to discern what is or isn’t your responsibility. Refocus on what your job truly is.
3. Keep yourself accountable
Now that you know what you should do, keep yourself accountable. Stop making excuses for why you deviated from your plan. It’s easy to revert back to old habits but that’s what keeps you overworked and overwhelmed. Being busy is not a way to measure the value you bring to your campus. Choose relevant metrics and assess your progress where it counts.
4. Innovate and improve
Look at your old habits with a critical eye and evaluate whether the way you have always done things still makes sense. I am sure you can find ways to simplify processes, utilize technology more effectively, or transform old work styles to make everyone’s life easier and make more progress quickly. Experiment, do something new on a regular basis, and continue to seek better outcomes instead of settling for what is familiar.
5. Face what is uncomfortable
Most people have concerns that seem overwhelming or challenging so they avoid looking at them, which creates more fear and powerlessness. Before you give up on trying to solve something that causes you chronic discomfort, give yourself a chance. Your feeling of powerlessness may be irrational. You may have embraced other people’s opinions instead of forming your own. See what you can change. You don’t have to make it perfect. Remember that any amount of progress will make you feel good.
If you want to be more productive and efficient, get all the resources you need by clicking here. You will discover how to accomplish more in less time, improve your leadership skills, and have more satisfaction in your job.
And if you’d like to speak with me about your goals and how I can help you reach them quickly, click here to schedule a free consultation. I look forward to meeting you.
About the author: Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, online courses, and interviews on international telesummits. Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education administration. She empowers them to thrive by reducing stress, optimizing strategies, improving professional relationships, and developing a strong and empowered mindset.