Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How to be more happy (or less unhappy) at your job as in-house counsel

Sure, in-house counsel generally enjoy their work, but are they that much more happy than most U.S. employees? A recent survey indicates that 82% of employed Americans are looking for a new job in 2011. Managing Talent Will Be Even Tougher in 2011. And 71% report they are less secure in their jobs than last year. Workers Feel Less Secure in Jobs than Year AgoSo it would follow that in-house counsel, even if happy, are less happy than they should be (or appear to be to their co-workers). And even if you are happy, what about your peers and direct reports? And even if they are happy, your supervising attorney may not be. Many Employees Think Their Boss is Job Hunting.

The troubling economy, an annoying boss, and other factors beyond an individual’s control may be contributing to personal job dissatisfaction.  With the job and housing markets tepid in much of the country, most of you aren't going anywhere, soon.  Continued job unhappiness may lead to poor performance which may lead to lost employment.  And it's harder for you to be LeadingInHousesm if you're muddled in unhappiness.  So below is an action plan for your continued success:

Action plan:  If you (or your co-workers) feel “stuck” in the job, give serious consideration to the SS in a KSS plan (keep doing, start doing, stop doing).  For the start-doing, see Jon Gordon’s 5 Ways to Be Happier at Work.  Here are four ways to more job-happiness within your control (with my spin on Jon's suggestions):
  1. Be more internally grateful you have a job while so many are unemployed.
  2. Don’t expect your boss and co-workers to make you happy.  Real happiness needs to comes from inside you.  So work harder on making yourself happy.
  3. Work with passion and purpose (even better than #2).  If you focus on how to make your job more meaningful, happiness will find you.
  4. Focus on excellence (instead of success).  “When you focus on excellence you measure yourself against your own growth and potential.”  5 Ways to Be Happier at Work.  This is far better than comparing yourself to others who you may perceive as being more successful than you (unhappy thoughts).
Clues to your "stop doing" list may be found in Stephen Baum's How To Make Yourself Unhappy.  Here are some that seem likely candidates from Baum's list of 10 (doing these can make you unhappy, so you want to stop doing them):
  #2. Make sure you maximize time spent with people who upset you.
  #4. Get really good at negative thinking, especially sustained negative thinking.
  #7. React quickly when you feel disrespected or frustrated by others.
  #8. Pay attention to what you can see needs your attention but don’t carve out time to work on the invisibles (e.g., deterioration in relationships, health).

Once you determine where you should focus, work with your boss or mentor on an action plan of start-doings and stop-doings.  For more on employee unhappiness, see articles posted at Reasons why unhappy employees are a liability to an organization.

This summary was prepared by Perry Cone and posted at

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