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NINE TO FIVE

I made a mistake by moving to a new job. What should I do? Add to ...

THE QUESTION

I changed jobs about three months ago, and am having a bit of a tough time adjusting. At my previous job, I had a stellar reputation as a junior employee and a promotion was in the works. I wasn’t entirely happy, due to office politics, but the work and colleagues were pretty great. When another employer contacted me, I said I wasn’t looking for a new job, but if I were to switch, it would have to be for all the right reasons. That company promised they would be happy to meet my expectations and offered a significant pay bump, so I made the jump.

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Now I realize I’ve made a huge mistake. It’s fairly clear that my new employer is not living up to the expectations we agreed on, and I’m severely underemployed. Not only that, but I’ve realized my new boss has a bit of a bad reputation in terms of micromanagement.

I’ve had two informal talks with my new boss about not having enough to do and, as a result, not feeling satisfied or very secure. I’ve also mentioned that I’m ready to take on more complicated projects, but the answer is always: “Prove yourself first.”

I am contemplating trying to find a new job. I’m trying to find a great place and stay put for at least a couple of years. I’d be willing to stay here and grind it out, but I’m half-convinced that I’m going to be laid off, either for lack of work or because I don’t fit in. Being jobless isn’t exactly an option, and I am pretty stressed out.

THE FIRST ANSWER

Colleen Clarke

Corporate trainer and career specialist, Toronto

You don’t like your job, but you don’t want to be fired. So let’s fix that. Look at what you can control and what you can’t. You can’t control the amount of work you get, but you can control how you do the work . You can’t control how your boss manages, but you can control how your react. Sometimes it takes a while to settle into a new role and for managers to trust you enough to give you more responsibilities.

If you pass your three-month probation, chances are your boss will start giving you more to do. Everyone has to pay their dues the first few months, and office dynamics and politics are seldom to everyone’s liking. Try to understand why people manage and behave in certain ways. Work on getting into your manager’s good graces. Excel at the work you have and spend any down time upgrading your skills.

Life is 10 per cent what happens to you and 90 per cent how you deal with it. You have told yourself that you are unhappy and, when you go to work each day, you set out to prove it. Look at the whole situation as a challenge to be overcome. Start looking for the good things and the opportunities you do have.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Kyle Couch

President and CEO, Spectrum Organizational Development Inc., Toronto

Without sounding harsh, welcome to the real world. You are experiencing what many people do when they first enter the work force, namely ineffective leadership, politics, weak management, unclear goals, and incomplete job mandates.

If you choose to move on, you are likely going to take a step back in pay, but if you do your homework and truly research your next potential employer, you can likely avoid another letdown. I recommend conducting a thorough search of employers on company review sites, and contacting current or former employees through business networking sites. It’s the old saying: Look before you leap.

If you choose to stay, get busy. While your responsibility may be lacking, many companies look for staff to join committees and project teams. Your current boss may be stifling you, but other, more effective managers in the organization are probably in need of additional resources to get their projects moved along. If the work isn’t coming to you, find the work. This will serve you throughout your career. Also, look outside the company for other volunteer opportunities to help “prove” yourself.

Got a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that mine field? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com.

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