Family Matters

I work for a company with an entrenched culture of minimal communication between management and staff. I suppose they believe paying us is all the communicating they need to do to tell us we're doing a good (or good enough) job. But we can never get too comfortable, because we're never sure where we stand in management's eyes. As a Catholic, should I “offer up” my job insecurity as a form of redemptive suffering, say something to make my concern known or just go looking for new work?

It sounds like you've been working hard with not much appreciation and you're getting resentful. Everyone's situation is unique, but in today's economy you shouldn't feel stuck with a job where you aren't appreciated.

Unless your resume reads like a travel itinerary, you generally want to be open — if not actively looking — for new opportunities. This applies even if you are happy. If we are continually forming ourselves, growing and expanding our skills, we will generally be doing some movement in our professional life.

You need not be miserable to look around. Sometimes people leave a job they're happy with simply because something better or closer to their vocation comes along. But if you are getting resentful, then you want to explore aggressively.

Every employer deserves our best effort, but we need constructive feedback and respectful communication in order to deliver. It's not only inconsiderate on your company's part, but also dangerous for you not to know what your boss thinks of your ideas and your performance.

In fact, the one person with whom you always want to be in a good working relationship is your boss. That relationship, more than any other, will generally have the biggest impact on your opinion of your company and your ability to grow. So you want to do everything in your power to improve the communication and get your boss's evaluation.

In your case, waiting for your boss to offer helpful feedback obviously hasn't worked. And you can't rely on the obligatory, annual performance evaluation. You must know what your boss thinks of your work on specific tasks, assignments and projects, and you need to find out if he cares about your opinions and ideas for improving quality, efficiency and productivity. This is not an option. Your job satisfaction and the company's productivity are at stake.

Why don't you schedule a 15-minute meeting with him every two to four weeks? Tell him you'll ask the questions and all he has to do is respond with honesty. If it turns out he isn't pleased with you or your ideas, or his responses are more discouraging than encouraging, at least you know where you stand. You can decide whether to try to turn things around or get out of Dodge. This is more than you have now.

As for “offering up” your struggles to God: For a Catholic, this should be automatic. It's always the right thing to do. Just remember that a certain amount of drudgery comes with even the best occupations. Ask Christ to do something new with yours — and with you.

Art Bennett is director of Alpha Omega Clinic and Consultation Services in Vienna, Virginia, and Bethesda, Maryland.