What it Takes To Achieve Job Satisfaction


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I've been thinking a lot about job satisfaction and what it really takes to get there.

Looking back I can see that when I enjoyed my job the most, two things were in place:

  1. I was doing work that I enjoyed
  2. I had a good boss.

Those two things made all the difference in the world.

For me, work that I enjoyed meant work that I was interested in doing and work that challenged me but that I could do well.

As for the boss, I needed someone who I thought had my back, that would listen to me, understand me, appreciate me and support me when I needed it. Someone that would inspire me and push me forward to achieve great things.

That's how I achieved job satisfaction.

But then, job satisfaction is not a permanent thing. It can be fleeting. It can come and go.


Why Job Satisfaction Comes and Goes

When I look back on my career, even though I worked for only a five different companies, I had several different bosses. That's the way corporate life seems to be for most of us.

Sometimes I would be working for a great boss, only to find the company wanted to re-organize and I would soon be getting a lousy boss.

Just a note to HR folks. People leave companies because of their bosses, not so much because of the company. So work on fixing the bosses, helping them to become more self aware. And if you see a bad match between a boss and an employee, jump in and fix it. Move the employee to where they have a better boss, and provide coaching to the boss.

If people have a good boss they will tolerate a lot of nonsense in the corporation. A good boss can shelter you from much of the crap. A boss who can't do that is not that good of a boss.

Which is More Important - the Work or the Boss?

I've noticed this with other people: If they like the work they are doing and they have a good boss, they can do great things, and they will be motivated and satisfied.

If they have a good boss, but the work is not that good of a fit, they will tolerate the work and try to get their boss to modify things.

But, If the work is not a good match, and the boss is not a good boss, you will have one very unhappy, unproductive employee.

So it takes both: A good boss and work that is a good match.

But What About Money?

Money is not a motivator, but feeling you are being cheated or treated unfairly when it comes to compensation is a very strong de-motivator

When you get a raise, you feel good for a short while. Maybe a few days at the most. Then the good feeling slips away and you forget it.

But when you know a coworker is making a lot more money than you are, and they seem to be accomplishing less than you do, then you have problem that will de-motivate you.

So as long as compensation is fair, it is not a big factor in job satisfaction.

Search for a Good Boss, Not Just a Good Job

So what all this means is that when you are searching for a new job, you should be searching for a good boss as well.

In fact, finding a good boss should probably be one of your most important decision factors.

Thus put more time into understanding the boss. Finding out what other people have to say about him.

A great interview question, when you are being interviewed by others in the company, is to ask them what it's like to work for the boss:

  • Ask them, what would they like to see more of?
  • What would you change about the boss if you could change anything?
  • What are the boss's strong points and weak points?
  • Does the boss inspire people?
  • Give me an example of how the boss inspired you.
  • Give me an example of how the boss had your back and supported you.
  • How does this boss compare to other bosses you have had?

Those questions should help you find a good boss. Maybe even a great boss. And that will make all the difference in the world when it comes to your job satisfaction and your success.


Read more about what you can do to achieve job satisfaction.



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