Work Stress from boredom. Human beings are wired to crave variety, novelty and stimulation. If your work does not provide that, then in the longer term you will suffer.

Yes – humans really do need stimulation. It’s even part of Maslow’s famous Hierarchy of Needs – level 2 is safety, (such as security of employment), but level 5 – the apex of the pyramid is Self-actualization. Self-actualization is a fancy term for fulfilling your full potential – and you need lots of intellectual stimulation to achieve it. Maslow himself had a lot of ideas around the responsibility of employers to provide a stimulating environment which would allow their employees to achieve self-actualization but I am not sure how many employers have read his work……..

So, you are in a job, probably an operational job, which does not give you stimulation. You have learned everything you need to complete the job satisfactorily, possibly some time ago, you do not find the work difficult or challenging to you skills, you work day does not vary much. You are just plan old bored. This is stressing or depressing you, because your needs as a human being are not being met. What to do?

Spice up your Job!

There are lots of potential ways to do this, but this week I would like to focus on just one, because if you can make it work it is the best one. The best way to spice up your job is to expand out your skills and develop them. We’ve just covered that your job does not itself, demand much in the way of new skills, so we need to look more creatively at what we mean by skills and how we can develop them.

What you talking ’bout Willis?

Every job has a core skill set that you just cannot do that job without. But almost all jobs have a set of peripheral skills that really enhance the core skill if they are developed. A classic example would be the brilliant doctor with the terrible bedside manner. The doctor will always be employable for their core skills, and the patients will always be grateful for their medical outcomes, but if that Doctor can develop their bedside manner they will truly be the full package.

This idea applies to most jobs and it doesn’t have to be anything big. Rubbish at booking meeting rooms and always ask someone else? Learn how to do it yourself. Your satisfaction will improve, your need for novelty will be sated and you will be just a little bit more rounded and useful to your employer.

So what do I do Veronica?

Audit your on-the-job skills. List all the skills required and rate yourself out of 10 for them. If you have anything below a ten – start there. What would a ten look like? What would you have to do to get there?

Once you have eliminated all your core skills, then list out all the periperhal bits and pieces that go with your work. Who is the best at your job in your organisation? What do they do that is different to you? What skill are you jealous of? Start making some observations – if you are the best, is there any way you can help to develop skills in other people?

The fun part

If you have worked through all your core and non-core skills and have developed them to a level of excellence you cannot improve on, then do not despair. Whoever you are, and whatever you do, you can always find a way to improve on your people skills. Why? Because people are infinitely varied, and interesting and complex, and even the best people people on the planet are always learning something new. So – if you can find literally no skills to develop, work on your people skills. The better your people skills the more you will be employable anywhere. These skills matter in the modern workplace, and most employers are very poor at developing them in their staff.

So – hone in on an area you would love to improve – small talk? Confidence? Selling? Dealing with difficult personalities? Grab a book, watch a TED talk, get some info and learn a technique. Then apply it. Unless your job is professional hermit this a game you can play all day, and it will never get tired.

Try it out!

Enjoy! What is your big skill aspiration? What one skill could you learn to make you a superstar at your work, and make you feel fulfilled and not bored? Share your stories below.