Dear Colleagues,

I believe the well known Rolling Stones rock group had a song with a lyric along the lines of: I can’t get no satisfaction. Judging by the regular complaints I get from engineering colleagues, this is a problem endemic in the engineering world – a lack of satisfaction with their jobs.

So what is job satisfaction in the engineering world?
It is unusual for anyone to have a 100% satisfaction in any job. However, everyone seems to believe that in changing one’s current job or project or colleagues or  boss that suddenly there will be a massive improvement in their job satisfaction levels. Sadly, this never seems to quite work out. I have long since given up on this approach and tried to adjust my internal view of work to make my satisfaction start now with my current job. Not easy; but attainable.

Often colleagues have quit their job because they can’t cope with a current project any longer. Initially all started out well with lots of enthusiasm and an optimistic view on the project; but after six months into the job, with regular client changes coming through, budgeting overruns starting and the contractors not reading the specifications, all sorts of problems started developing. Eventually, the engineer quits the job for something more satisfying. The only problem is that before long the new project has similar problems and job satisfaction isn’t there any longer either.
Two Aspects to Job Satisfaction
There are two aspects to job satisfaction. Your internal state (how do you perceive the world) and external elements such as the project you are working on/your boss /the people you work with and so forth.  My experience leads me to believe that satisfaction is mainly a state of mind. In changing the external issues of the job (boss/project/people/money); we are not really identifying and fixing the real reasons for job satisfaction.

 Admittedly, sometimes you are working in extremely dangerous conditions, traveling almost on a continuous basis with no family life or getting paid peanuts and these are issues that need to be fixed. But often the causes of your dissatisfaction are less obvious. They are internal. They relate to how you perceive and interact with the world. You know – the half empty glass versus the half full glass?

A Humble Suggestion
So before you gripe about a low level of satisfaction with your current job; pause for a moment. And consider whether you can change your mental picture of the job, project and the world and be a little more patient and accommodating about things that irritate you. And consider whether you can adjust to them and raise your job satisfaction to a higher level by looking at your engineering job world with a positive view and changing your state of mind.

As far as satisfaction is concerned; GK Chesterton remarked: “There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less."

Yours in engineering learning,


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