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Are you happy in your job?

A career audit quiz for managers and professionals

By Elaine Varelas, 8/6/2007

What do you want to be when you grow up? It is a question asked of millions of kindergarteners every year. Maybe when you were a kid your answer to this query was more whimsical. Perhaps you wanted to be a rock star, astronaut, or professional athlete.

If you channel that kindergartener inside of you, what would that tyke have to say about your current job? Like any innocent child, you might ask yourself: Do I like this job? Does it make me happy?

While we can't be happy 100% of the time in any job, we can strive to improve our numbers. Here is a quick quiz for you, managers and professionals, whether you are in HR, marketing, or any other field, to determine just how happy you are in your job, and what you can do to boost your satisfaction (if you need to!). The answers to these ten questions can help you craft your role in your organization and design a job that keeps you challenged and fulfilled:

1. Do I love it or hate it? When you think about your job, what is your gut reaction? Do you dread going to work or look forward to it? How do you feel about your duties, your colleagues, your managers, the location, the office culture? Anything else on the plus or minus side that is glaring at you?

2. What aspects of the job do I enjoy? In most cases, not everything is black and white. There are bound to be parts of your job that you like and others, well, not so much. Identify those aspects that invigorate you and think of ways to increase those responsibilities.

3. Why do I do what I do? What is your motivation? Do you find your job challenging? Do you do it for the compliments? Because it is easy? Because nobody else will do it? Take an honest look at your inspiration.

4. What am I good at? What are your most impressive skills? This can be a tricky question because being good at something doesn't necessarily justify doing it. The task may be boring or no longer challenging. Is your preoccupation with this task eating up your time on the job? Are there assignments holding you back from reaching the next level in your career? If so, it might be time to delegate.

5. Where am I replenished on the job? What aspects of your job do you find fulfilling, challenging, or exciting? Where do you get the positive energy to move forward? Are there projects or assignments you'd like to try, but haven't?

6. How can I replace the tasks I loathe with those I like? What can you move or delegate? Are there opportunities for you to swap with colleagues? The practice of "switching" tasks can breathe new life into a team, but it can also be unsettling to some of your peers. Work with your team, department, and managers to clearly define roles and encourage an open communication about job expectations.

7. Do I prefer to work alone or as part of a team? What works for you? Are you a loner, a team player, or a combination of both? And what are the circumstances you are in every day?

8. Are there groups of people I enjoy working with, and those I don't? Look for ways to increase your interaction with the "good" folks and reduce your time with the drainers.

9. Is it possible to make these changes? When you do this brutal assessment of your job, be honest with yourself. What is holding you back? Is it you, management, your responsibilities? Are you able to effect the changes you need to be truly happy in this job at this organization? If not, it may be time to leave.

10. As a manager, how can these changes support the organization? This quiz is about you, but not everything is about you. How do your career goals mesh with the company's mission statement? How can your newly designed job and responsibilities benefit the organization? Once you have determined the advantages to the company, lobby senior leadership for their support. If people who report to you took this quiz, how would they fare? Would the organization be able to support positive changes for them?

This quiz will help you embark on the path to designing your dream job at your organization. It may help to rate your job satisfaction on a scale, not a static one but a sliding scale. If you are 50% happy with your job today, work to increase those numbers to 75% or higher by putting a plan in place to affect change. And make sure to give yourself and your organization time to make those adjustments.

It may not happen overnight, but you should have a reasonable timeline to reach your goals. And next time that child inside of you asks, "Do you like this job? Are you happy?" You can answer with a resounding, "Yes!"

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