Contractor Tip of the Month: Rebounding When You Hate the Job or Business You Once Loved

Words: Damian Lang

“Take This Job and Shove It.” Every job has highs and lows. But if you start talking – or singing – like Johnny Paycheck, then it is time for a rebound. 

If you are a business owner, part of your job is to know that those highs and lows are to be expected. But what no one ever warns you about is how a job or business that once brought you so much joy could become something you despise. It happens, and those who never identify the why behind this resentment often end up abandoning their dream.

Last night I had dinner with a friend who confessed he hated his business. I could not believe what I heard. This is a man who had poured his heart and soul into his company. It was not just his job. It was his passion. 

I told him that hate is a pretty strong word, especially considering that he doubled sales and profits after taking over the company. Regardless, he said hate is exactly how he feels.

Hearing his confession over dinner, I knew things were dire for him. So, I asked him what it was that made him hate his business. Without hesitation, he fired off his reasons:

  • He cannot find people who want to work. And those who do work, do not show up on time. 
  • Some of his employees take extended breaks and consider work a social activity. 
  • He is tired of dealing with bad attitudes and employees who just do not care about his business.

I smiled when I heard his reasoning because I realized he did not hate his business. The problem was that the people he has on his team are drying up his passion. Fortunately for him, this is a problem that has a solution.

I asked him who he thought was to blame for these problems. As I suspected, he attributed it to his employees. I intentionally paused before I responded to ensure he understood the full impact of my reply. 

“You are wrong,” I said. “You caused every one of these issues.” Then I reminded him how the direction of the business falls squarely on his shoulders. 

It was a tough lesson for him to hear, but I am glad that we are close enough that he did not take offense. 

I told him that to the degree that he hates his company, I love mine. Where do our differences lie? You might think he is simply dealing with a bigger load. However, that is not the case because I have 25 times more employees across eight companies. 

He was a little shocked to hear what I had to say next after telling him I love my job. I did not attempt to paint some perfect image as if I could not identify with what he was saying. Instead, I confessed that I had been exactly where he was and hated at least one or more of my businesses at some point in my career. 

In fact, there was a point where I was miserable every day I went to work. That is when I decided I needed to get to the core of my problem or get out of business; I knew the latter would leave me unhappier.

I explained that the difference between us was how we approached the problem. While he looked outward for the cause, I looked inward. He pointed to his employees, but I, as the owner, could blame only myself for the poor performance and results my businesses were experiencing. 

I shared that after some deep introspection, I discovered that I did not hate the business. It was the lack of competency of the people I had running it that I hated. I could not blame the people themselves because it was not their fault they were incompetent. It was mine for leaving them in a position where they were unsuccessful. I was holding them accountable for results they were incapable of achieving. This was stressful for them and me.

My lack of leadership at that time had set up these people for failure. I was to blame because I failed them when I did not remove them from their role and find someone with the necessary skills, aptitude, and ability to manage the division. 

It comes down to having the right people in place. When you do not have that, I guarantee the business will suffer and so will you. Having effective key players is the sole responsibility of the person at the top. That is my job. 

When I was miserable, dissatisfied, and stressed with my business, I had all the same problems as my friend. It was a bad situation of my own creation. 

My friend and I discussed several other issues his business was facing, and without fail, it came down to one thing. He simply did not have the right leader in place to manage the operation. 

Think about it from the perspective of an employee. If you hate your job, you are likely working under poor leadership. The only solution is to switch positions at work or seek work elsewhere, for a leopard does not change its spots. 

If you are the leader and you hate your job, you have incompetent people working under you. The solution is to train or replace the team with those who are more competent in their positions. 

There is one more situation that could be making you hate your job. This requires you to look in the mirror. Are you the poor leader who makes others hate their job? If so, you better seek coaching to become a better leader, or find a different occupation where your own competencies fit the position you are in. 

As an owner, it is easy to lose sight of the real root of the problem when you find yourself disenchanted with a business you once loved. It is not easy to take an honest look in the mirror and accept the blame, but the truth is, the solution starts with you

By understanding the reasons behind the resentment and implementing strategies to address them, you can reclaim your passion for your business, rediscover the joy of going to work each day, and change your tune to “Take This Job and Love It.”

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