The First Thing to Do When You’re Frustrated With Your Job

October 13, 2016, 4:00 PM UTC
Businesswoman with Hands on Head Using Laptop
Businesswoman with Hands on Head Using Laptop
David Harrigan—Canopy/Getty Images

The Fortune 500 Insiders Network is an online community where top executives from the Fortune 500 share ideas and offer leadership advice with Fortune’s global audience. Today’s answer to the question, “What should you do when you’re frustrated with your job?” is written by Jocelyn Wong, senior vice president and general merchandising manager for Lowe’s.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been frustrated with their job at some point, even if they love what they do. Sometimes this frustration, however, is deeper and more significant than the normal challenges we face every day. It’s at these times that we find ourselves wondering if the grass is greener on the other side.

Here are a few tips that can help you sort through any frustrations you may be feeling:

Find the source

First and foremost, assess the source of the frustration. Often we spend more time crafting and managing our business strategies than we do our life strategies. Marrying up your job satisfaction scorecard with your own personal priorities is critical. I have found that frustration usually comes from three different buckets. The first is your coworkers, which can include your boss (most often the case), but occasionally stems from friction among your peers. The second bucket is your work. This could mean your everyday work or the speed at which you’re progressing. The last possible source of frustration is in the company’s culture, values, and vibe.

If you’re feeling annoyed, it’s important to seek advice and get a second opinion from an objective person you trust. They can help you take the emotion out of your assessment and think clearly. Leverage a mentor or perhaps an old boss.

I have left companies for each of these reasons. Once I chose to leave a role because my personal values did not align with those of the CEO at the time, which resulted in a culture and workplace dynamic that I could not thrive in. It was a difficult decision, but I felt a great sense of relief and liberation once I committed to leave.

Consider your options

After assessing the source of frustration, lay out your options. What can you control? What are you not willing to live with or without? Keep in mind that leaving a job isn’t always the easiest path and comes with risk and significant emotional implications. Perhaps you can fix the situation by having a very open and transparent conversation with your manager. Or perhaps your workload is too heavy, and you need to develop a plan to strengthen your team or delegate more. Often after consideration the path forward becomes obvious.


Make a decision and stick to it

Once you’ve chosen your best option, you must act. Don’t second-guess your decision. Too often I see people spiral into emotional distress because they can’t commit to a choice they’ve made. They stay in a role they’re unhappy with and stick it out for far too long. You owe it to yourself and the company you work for to find a role and environment where you can give your best and feel recognized and supported.

While I have left companies for various reasons, I have also stayed in roles through challenging times and grown and developed as a result. I recall a time when a reporting change led me to being positioned under a different manager, someone about whom I initially was apprehensive due to their lack of marketing experience. I was unhappy at first and considered leaving, but then decided to share my concerns with my new manager and stick it out. Through time, we ended up developing a fantastic relationship and I still use what I learned from this individual in my career today.

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