Handling uncomfortable conversations about work

Q. I have a 3-year-old. He keeps me on my toes. I don’t love my job. It’s less than ideal, but I have it down to a science. My family says I should look for a new job because I’m bored, but the pay is decent. How do I handle holiday conversations?

A. My answer’s two-fold. First, our priorities shift. And that’s OK. I’m giving you permission to do what’s best for you now, which sounds like staying put. You don’t love your job, but it pays decently. It’s less than ideal, but you’ve got this. Do what’s best for you. There are ebbs and flows to life and in turn, our careers. Sometimes our careers take a back seat to what we need in our lives like stability, predictability and flexible schedules are worth their weight in gold. You do you!

Regarding the holidays, set boundaries with relatives. I’d shut it down with a simple statement like, “It’s a holiday, I’m not in work mode, not going to talk about my job.” Or whatever you feel most comfortable saying.

Q. I get paid really well for what I do. I’m high-level. I’m not having a crisis per se, but doing some soul searching. If I quit and pursue a do-good-for-society job, I’ll take a severe pay cut. What should I do?

A. You’re not alone as I hear this conundrum frequently.

I would put a pen to paper or use Notes on your phone — make a list of things you love about your job including the pay, as that’s important. Include everything: benefits, commute, colleagues, boss, opportunity for growth, etc. Then include cons. It sounds like your job doesn’t make your heart sing and it feels unfulfilling.

For the next task, make another list for your ideal role — and pros and cons to this as well. Then, prioritize.

What’s most important? Is it salary which is usually among the top three priorities, if not the top? Or is it contributing to society or something else that emerges? Can you keep your current job and perhaps do a volunteering role in your community on weekends so you can technically accomplish both or start a volunteer initiative within your current job?

Think outside the box here as to what you can accomplish and ultimately, what you need, what you want and what will make you happy and what you will regret.

Q. My company got rid of performance reviews (which I’m not unhappy about), but my boss is constantly MIA. How will I know how I’m doing and get rated for my salary increase in January without him?

A. Toxic micromanaging bosses often get all the press, but absent ones are problematic as well. Reach out to your boss to engage them more frequently. Ask your boss how will you get ongoing feedback and how will you get rated. And how does that rating impact salary increases?

You may want to suggest weekly check-in meetings for 30 minutes. Or see if twice a month is doable.

If your boss is not responsive, then you definitely have a solid reason to go above their head to HR or your boss’s boss. Indicate you’ve tried a few times to connect with your boss for meaningful dialogue and since they’re not available, who should your point of contact be? Granted, their first course of action may be to approach your boss and indicate you went to them.

Tribune News Service

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