“Office Lady” from Hong Kong is back – and still not happy at work

Ask the CHOA while back I got a comment from Office Lady in Hong Kong who wrote that:

Iíve been miserable at work and, although it took me almost a year, I eventually built up the courage, and Iíve finally quit my job!!

I think itís one of the best decisions Iíve ever made!

And most of all, Iíve found a new job too! No one knows how itíll go, but a change is definitely due and Iím looking forward to a fresh start.

Your site has definitely pushed me on.

:) One happy Office Lady in Hong Kong

So how did it go? Well, Office Lady is not yet happy at work, and she is asking for our advice:

I’m now at another job and I’m again thinking about leaving (hence I’m here again). Yes, it pays better than my last job, my boss is awesome (I don’t think how anyone can have a better boss), I have benefits and so on.

But the work doesn’t inspire me. It’s boring. And I believe I have more potential and more to offer. My job is like acting as a middle-person, passing on requests and documents between our headquarters in the US and our regional offices all over Asia. I don’t “make” anything. I don’t make the documents. People give me documents, I give them to someone else. People give me documents, I compile them in the right order, and give them to someone else.

In my previous job, what drove me to quit was that eventually, I actually DREADED going to work. I’d actually panic in bed on Sunday night. Here, I don’t dread it, but I just plainly find no point in going to work. I drag my work out throughout the day, just so I have enough to keep my occupied.

Question is, should I leave just after 5 or 6 months here? And go find something that would engage me? Risk losing my income, benefits and not finding a boss as great again?

What a great question – and one that many people face. What do you do when work isn’t all that bad, but not all that good either? Is “OK” good enough?

What would you advice Office Lady to do?

18 thoughts on ““Office Lady” from Hong Kong is back – and still not happy at work”

  1. I’d advise her to look for opportunities round her current job to take on more interesting work / responsibility. It is very often possible to “grow” your actual job into one that suits you more. In addition it may be worth speaking to her awesome boss as he may be able to (directly or indirectly) push some more interesting work / responsibility her way or may know of other opportunities within the company which may suit her more. In the end, if nothing changes, she will probably come to dread going to her “boring” job as much as her last one.

  2. Hey guys…

    One option is to quit, but that doesnt sit well with me after just 6 months… I would try to find areas in your company that are not functioning optimal and try to figure out ways you can create projects that you can get inspired by! If I was your boss, I would love it if you came to me nd said. I have been thinking of ways to better us and I have come up with this and that and I have even created time in my schedule to do it! Create your own “destiny”

    Hope that was helpfull! Take care

  3. Maybe it is just me … but this seems a bit one sided in that while Office Lady has these feelings the boss, the company, and the job really don’t seem to be in the loop. By that I mean how does the boss, who is great by her account, think about this scenario? How does this position affect the company? The boss, having the boss like perspective might likely provide strategic direction and maybe in collaboration with Office Lady could turn the position into something that is engaging and full of use to the company and Office Lady.

  4. Wow, I am IN that situation. After five years of extremely stimulating work, that happened to attract a-holes, I had had enough. Life is TOO SHORT working with people who devalue you, and that you can’t stand.

    Give me boring work with fabulous people anyday!

    Americans chase this holy grail of loving what you do, and doing what you love. I found, for me, that it was MORE important to enjoy who I work with.

    I wouldn’t go back. No way.

    As far as ‘coping, I spend lots of time interacting with my new, awesome cowokers. I have also developed things in my non-work life that feed my passion.

  5. Talk to your boss, see if your current role is all there is, or if your responsibilities will grow (and if so when). It could be too soon in your job for your boss to know where your skills really are.

    If you get the feeling that there is no room to expand in your current position then think about moving on.

    I was at a company for 2 years when I at the same point. I asked for a chat with my boss and mentioned I felt under used and what plans he had for me. The look on his face said all I needed to know.

  6. I agree with most comments previously made. As a department head my biggest frustration is when people quit without telling me they are unsatisfied. I am conciencious of overworking people, and therefore try to add work slowly to someone’s plate so i do not overwhelm them and make them leave. My last assistant left me a note saying that i was a wonderful boss and she loved working for me, but the work itself was so boring she had to move on. If i am a great boss, why not feel confident enough to tell me what you need to be happy at work?

    My advice, talk to your boss! If the workload does not improve you can always move on, but give her/him a chance to make it better for you first.

  7. As I read this “problem” it reminds us that workplace happiness must come from within the person. An “inside out approach as opposed to an outside in approach (covey)” All that supervisors of team leaders can do is set up external circumstances for success. I am wondering what is missing, what “Office Lady in Hong Kong” is searching for. Trying to find happines external to oneself only leads to needs. Much like a “consumer based culture” that is in contant need to fill and to keep up with the JOnes’s.

  8. I’m going to have to agree with the above and say that she needs to ‘step up’ and look around and take some initiative to find out what else she could do that would help. Is there a way to automate her job more? schedule things better? How else can she help her department/company succeed?

  9. The boss seems to be a good guy. She can continue to do the ‘boring’ work productively only to make it easy for her boss to consider her future request to ‘switch’ to another team/position which would be more inspiring.

  10. Wow….that is so much more than I ever expected.

    I agree 6 months is quite a short time and it is possible that there is more to my role than I have experienced so far. And I agree that happiness, satisfaction, etc. should come from myself, instead of depending on external factors.

    I have taken initiative to do things outside of what is expected of me. Perhaps I should do more.

    Well, then, here’s my To Do list:
    1) Talk to my boss. What are her plans for me? Is there room to grow? Anyway to move on from what I am currently doing?
    2) Continue with my little side-projects and see where they’ll take me.
    3) Learn to appreciate the value of things I’ve been learning here.

    :) Thanks so much~

  11. Thanks for the fantastic input people. There seems to be a consensus that given the great boss, it makes sense to take the issue to her.

    I always say, that we are responsible for our own happiness at work, and one of our responsibilities is to speak up when something is not right.

    And what boss wouldn’t like an employee saying “Please give me more challenging work!”

    Office Lady: That’s a great todo-list. Please let us know how it goes :o)

    And can I just say, that what I liked the most about your thinking, is that “OK” is obviously no longer enough for you. You know now, that you want to do work you can be proud of, not just meaningless paper shuffling.

    I admire your commitment to happiness at work!

  12. I don’t think quitting is the right move for her just yet. She has a great boss and a wonderful salary and yet her job bores her. But she’s not going to be in the same position forever. Perhaps she can just aim for a promotion. That would certainly drive her to take more interest in her current work and also provide the possibility for her to be given a different job in the same company in the future.

  13. There is a lot of sound practical advice in the foregoing and I cannot fault it, or Office Lady’s action plan. I would, however, add one preliminary step to the “to-do list” – namely prepare a concrete suggestion to take to her boss. It is a bit of a cliche to say that no-one likes to be presented with a problem, but the fact is most managers like to be presented with potential solutions as well. Consequently, I would recommend that Office Lady first identify what she could do to create more “value-add” to the role. Most people want to “make a difference” and clearly that is a prime motivation for Office Lady too, but she will have a better chance to do this if she identifies the problems some of the others are having and tries to help them too.
    Failing that, if the scope of her work really is so limited that there is no scope to improve, she could talk to her colleagues to find out if they have the same issues and try to make some sort of competitive game out of this which will help brighten things up for everyone. Being happy at work is a two way process – it isn’t a right or something that just happens – it requires dedicated effort that will usually entail making others happy too!
    I will get off my soapbox now, but I hope that “makes a difference!”

    Good luck

  14. Bay is right. There should be some concrete ideas involved when you goto your boss. He may have some problem areas on the top of his head that you could help in, but he could just as well give you a blank stare (probably the more likely case).

    However, where I disagree with Bay, at least in language is nothing else, is identifying your other value-added opportunities. Value-added and all is great of course, and the essence of what you want to offer your boss, but that’s not usually how people think about it.

    Instead, as you know that you don’t get a lot of challenge from your current tasks, what would you actually like to do? You mention that you don’t create any of the documents, you just assemble and pass along. Is there a way you could get involved in the creation of documents? Would that be something that you’d enjoy?

    This is the step of doing what you love. It’s about figure out what’ll stimulate you, what’ll make you happy. Love is a strong word, and that always draws a bit of controversy, but why shoot any lower? It’s not the answer to all your problems because doing something you love isn’t the only part of the equation, and having good relationships at work is about as important as what you do.

    Still, and this question is never easy for even the most self conscious people, what is it that you think you’d like to do instead? Make those kinds of offers to your boss for the best results because it makes it easier on him if you can help guide him as much as he’ll help guide your work (I know, I’ve been in this kind of position myself attempting to steer work in a more enjoyable direction, but it’s hard to help a coworker if they can’t describe what they like or might like doing).

  15. Matt is right – the disagreement is only in language. His comments expand nicely on what I meant by “value-added.” Time, combined with the desire to keep it as brief as possible, led me to be too cryptic. I endorse his comments whole-heartedly.


  16. Dear Office Lady:
    When I get into a similar situation I think back to an audio course I listened to about 10 years ago call “Lead the Field.” It’s a personal development classic from a guy named Earl Nightingale. You can listen to a few audio samples at : http://www.nightingale.com/prod_detail~product~Lead_Field.aspx and I recommend listening to the one called Acres of Diamonds first. It’s very relevant for your situation. Best of luck!

  17. in my experience, 6 months isn’t very long to find out all there is to a job,, sometimes it may be boring to start with but as you get to know what you could do, and show others what you can do, other opportunities may open up. I got to do the exact bit I loved in a previous job, just by doing my existing work well and helping others whereever I could and offering to help with an area of work I loved, when the occasion arose. I have been in my current job 15 months and i agree with other posts,,, there are 2 elements to a job,, the work and the people and although my work is less challenging, i enjoy the people!

    I had an interview last week for a job within the same organisation which would have been absolutely my ideal work and ideal people,,, and when I was asked why i wanted the job,, i said because I love databases.. which is true ( I know some may find that a ‘sad’ comment!). I didn’t get the job as i didn’t have enough experience but at least I was true to myself.

    Sometimes we just have to go through these times to make us realise more about ourselves! Hope you get a break over the holiday time Office lady and all other posters.

  18. Take a second look at the content of your job. When you say, “I don’t get to MAKE anything,” I hear that you need a job that actually creates something.
    Those types of jobs might be more rare in your business, but you can also work on understanding the value you bring to the current work.
    Instead of thinking that your job is transferring documents, rethink your work. Maybe you really:
    – Create a logical plan from a series of “raw materials” (the compiling)
    – Create meaning from a mess of data for your customer
    – Create savings for your company by ordering work efficiently

    Think in terms of how you satisfy your customer and what their needs are. You might find that your work is more enjoyable than you earlier thought!

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