If you feel as though you are being taken for granted at work, the chances are that you feel frustrated and deeply unhappy. Although everybody has good and bad days in the office, if you believe that your boss simply doesn't value your efforts, then it can have a serious impact on your motivation.
Being taken for granted can manifest itself in many ways. Your boss (and colleagues) may simply assume that you will work longer hours to get things done. You may never hear a please or thank you. You may see your colleagues treated favorably in certain situations. You aren't told things that are important. Moreover, you simply start to feel uncomfortable and undervalued.
If you can recognise these symptoms (and more) then it may be time to start to action action. But what can you do?
Tell people how you feel
Bottling up your feelings is an unhealthy approach and is probably half the reason you have ended up in this position. Communicate with your boss, your friends and your colleagues and make it clear how you feel. Pick the right time and location to say what you feel and try and approach it in a constructive but honest manner. In many cases, the shock of being told that somebody feels this way can force a boss to change his or her approach.
Start to set limits
When you are taken for granted, more often than not, people simply think that they can ask you to do more and more or that you will simply always go the extra mile without setting limits. It can be an uncomfortable journey, but only you can catalyse a change in this behavior. Start to say 'no'. Set limits on your working day, or on the tasks that you will pick up in addition to your normal role. Don't become defensive or obstructive. Simply explain why you cannot complete something and suggest a helpful alternative. If your boss starts to insist, then start to 'exchange tasks' asking questions such as 'if you want me to do that, what should I not do instead?' Your boss needs to understand that you have a limited capacity.
You may have been taken for granted because you stopped asking for what you needed. You will probably need to start doing this again. Where is your development plan? Does it reflect your career goals? Are you paid the right amount? Are you in the right role? Is your team understaffed? All these questions (and more) could point to the root cause(s) that have led to you being taken for granted. To effect change, you will need to start to demand more of others. That includes you. Stand up for your rights and your development needs. Nobody will care as much about your career and future as you do.
Treat others as you would expect to be treated
It may be an uncomfortable truth, but you may be breeding the behaviors that are frustrating you. Do you take others for granted? Look at the way in which you treat your colleagues, your boss and your direct reports and ensure that you value their contributions in the right way. Become a role a model for the way in which you would like to be treated. Many broken relationships in the workplace arise because individuals seem unaware of how they are perceived.
Start to build a contingency plan
There can come a point when you realise that you simply cannot work for a certain individual or company. However much somebody takes you for granted, you should always have an escape route planned. Brush up your resume and ensure that you are utilising your business network to its fullest extent. Identify new development opportunities and remember that you may need to plan over the longer term. There may be benefits from your current role that you can use in the medium to long-term so think carefully about what is best for you.
Being taken for granted will always have a very negative effect. The longer you allow such a situation to continue, the harder it is to break out of. While the situation may be driven by the behavior of others, it is critical to realise that you are the only person that can do something about it.