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By: Dr. John T. Self

Bored at Work

Are you bored? Do you feel you are on autopilot while at work? Are you just going through the motions?

I've been there and it isn't fun. If you are feeling bored, the problem is that you ARE bored. One product of boredom and being on autopilot is that you are not doing your best work. Not even close. Another is that you are not looking long term at all. Your definition of long term is, at best, tomorrow. Your standards go way down and you overlook actions of employees that you would once have written up in a heartbeat.

But no one will notice right? I mean you're good. You can do your job blindfolded.

No you can't. You're going to get noticed. If you have a great boss, he or she will counsel you and try to help figure out what is going on with you. If you have an average boss, you will get fired. And you know what? You deserve it.

Your boss, your company and certainly you do not deserve to give anything less than 100 percent while at work. It is not personally satisfying for you and it is not productive for your company. It is time to take a long hard look at what is wrong.

You need a challenge that you are not experiencing in your present job. You have a couple of choices, but the main point here is that you need to do something. Talk it out with a close friend, your wife, husband or maybe even your boss. Drastic changes may not be called for, such as leaving the industry, but some change is.

Perhaps you need to change responsibilities in your restaurant. If you are an assistant, try managing the kitchen versus the servers, for one example. If you are a GM, maybe the time is right to be transferred to a more challenging or busier place. It might be a great time to ask for a transfer to a new city that you are interested in. Or it would be a great time in your career to be the opening manager at a new opening if one is scheduled in the future.

But I would guess that the root problem is something else entirely. I would bet that you are feeling ignored. Actions that you have taken in the past, the ones in which you worked hard and were justifiably proud of your accomplishments, were not even noticed. When this inattention is repeated, it is human nature to feel fed up and not try anymore. Why bother to work hard? No one will notice anyway.

Before you toss in the towel and relax your standards to the point that you hurt your reputation, try this first. Think about the real reasons behind your feeling of "under whelm" and boredom. I'll bet it is feedback or lack of feedback.

Talk it out with someone. Then go to your boss. Explain that you need more feedback and you would like to set goals for tasks and achievements with dates for reviews. This way you have forced feedback (in a professional way of course). Once you have done this for a period of time, you will be armed and ready to present your case to be promoted or a change of your choice. Try it. You just might be surprised.

About the author:  John T. Self is a lecturer at The Collins School of Hospitality Management at California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona). Prior to entering academe, Dr. Self spent fifteen years in the restaurant industry. While in the corporate world, he worked for several chains including overseeing six restaurants with sales of over twenty million dollars. He has also owned three independent restaurants. While at Golden Gate University, he started the partnership with Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China and is continuing in that involvement at Cal Poly.

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