Posts Tagged ‘career satisfaction’

Can we eliminate Hump Day?! OK, I will admit that this is probably an impossible task. Gallup research tells us that there is a certain percentage of any work force that will Camelremain “disengaged.” What a great word – DISENGAGED.

I still recall reading a license plate on the front of a vehicle in Western PA which opined, “I LOVE PAYDAYS, VACATIONS, WEEKENDS.” Some quick mental calculations told me that the driver must HATE most of their existence!

There are, of course, people out there who will never be happy unless they are miserable. While discussing this phenomenon in training with a company, one of the attendees raised his hand in the middle of the presentation to “give his two cents.” Anyone who has trained knows that the raised hand can go one of two ways – very badly or very well! Breathing a silent prayer, I acknowledged the gentleman’s presence and gave him the floor.

I am happy to report it went well, and this is why: he shared THE STORY OF SMITTY.

Smitty was a long term employee of the company. Smitty was also a pretty miserable person. Smitty wore a perpetual scowl, seemed to be trying to decide between staying on the job or having root canal without Novocain. His interaction with his co-workers was consistently negative. If queried as to what he liked about work, his response would probably be something like “Payday, lunch and leaving.” That’s assuming he answered at all.

Smitty’s job, by the way, was working in The Pit. I never found out exactly what that involved, but it clearly did not sound good.

One day, his supervisor decided to ask, “Hey, Smitty, do you like working in The Pit?”

“Nah,” said Smitty with his typical venom-laced voice, “I HATE it!”

Deciding to wade in deeper, his supervisor then asked, “Well, what would you LIKE to do?”

Smitty responded immediately, “I’d like to work in Banding” (Once again, I really did not know what this entailed, but clearly Smitty preferred it to The Pit).

The result of this exchange was that the supervisor was eventually able to transfer Smitty to Banding. When this happened, something AMAZING took place!

Smitty became human! He actually smiled on occasion, working more effectively with his co-workers and became much more productive.

Here is the Big Question: Whose fault was it that Smitty was so miserable for so long? The supervisor or Smitty?

And the Big Answer: BOTH!

To quote from two companion books by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans (Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em and Love It, Don’t Leave It), “ASK”, whether you are the employer or the employee!

Smitty should have thought to ask if there were any other positions that he felt he could enjoy/do better at (often these two factors work together), and the supervisor should have checked much sooner on Smitty’s interests and skills. To paraphrase another favorite author of mine, Marcus Buckingham (formerly of Gallup), “Companies should stop trying to make people what they aren’t and use them for what they are.”

By the way, so you do not consider me to be a starry-eyed idealist, I realize that EVERY position will require each of us to perform some tasks we would rather give up. I like to call this “The Grown-up Stuff.” I don’t want to do it, but I have to because they told me to! Welcome to Life.

However, by asking about and considering the employee’s key interests, satisfiers and skills we can come as close as possible to eliminating that favorite term for Wednesday touted by morning DJ’s – HUMP DAY!

I must take issue with the 80′s rock group Loverboy – Not “Everybody’s working for the weekend!”

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An insurance ad I have been watching has a young lady bemoaning the accident that totaled her beloved car Brad. She and that car had been through so much in the 4 years she owned it…2 boyfriends, 3 JOBS!

Welcome to the new job market, Sports Fans! The Rules have clearly changed!

Let’s remind ourselves of the Old Rules:

  • Get training in a field where there is work.
  • Find a good job with a solid company in that field.
  • Do what you are told.
  • Take every promotion they offer you.
  • Stay until they present you with the “Gold Watch.”
  • Retire and then go do what you want!

WRONG! I would respectfully suggest the following “Rules” for the New Workplace that has taken over:

Be prepared for change at all times.

Only two things don’t change – God and change. As a company, stay flexible, forward thinking and open to adjustments for you, your industry and your personnel. As a worker, you need not fall in love with change, but you’d better learn how to handle it. Change happens.

Act as if you are self employed.

One of my favorite sites to follow is Careerealism (http://www.careerealism.com), which touts the tagline “Because EVERY Job is Temporary.” Well, it is. As a company, don’t assume that you will be ordering gold watches at a volume discount. Help your employees see themselves as integral parts of the solution. As an employee, take action at work as if your paycheck is directly related to your contribution (because, ultimately, it is!).

Never stop learning.

Employers should provide opportunities for employees to acquire new skills, knowledge and expertise that enhance them as individuals as well as enabling them to contribute at higher and higher levels. Employees should be seeking these opportunities continually, even if they must do it on their own. To borrow a title from another one of my blogs, your workers may be saying “Play Me or Trade Me!”

Continually add value to your work.

“What have you done for me lately?” sounds very ungrateful, but it’s a Fact Of Work these days. The best way to stop advancing in your job is to simply do what is expected of you. Employers, create opportunities for the employee to contribute more to the position. Employees, never be completely satisfied with your performance. Always seek to improve. I’ve coined a term to describe this mindset: “Professional Dissatisfaction.”

Take charge of your attitude.

When I’ve been called in to work with employees, it is never on how to use a spreadsheet or fill out a time card. It’s to teach them how to “play well with others!”  Employers should seek to enhance the communication and team building skills of staff through modeling the appropriate behavior as well as providing training and support in these areas. Employees should invest time and energy into enhancing their interpersonal skills.

Is it a New Workplace? You bet it is!

STOP USING THE OLD RULES.

In his excellent tome “The Passion Plan,” Richard Chang writes of making decisions regarding your life and work from two sources: your Head or your Heart.

If your decisions move from your Head to your Heart (based solely on rational thought, logic, what “makes sense,” etc. and then considering your subjective side), you will ultimately experience Regret“I wonder what might have happened if I had done this or that…?” Or, according to Chang, if you stay with Head decisions, you’re likely experience Sadness, as you realize that you failed to consider your deeper needs and desires before taking action.

Heart decisions can have their pitfalls as well. As Chang notes, if you start from your Heart and stay with your Heart, you are likely to make Risky, totally impractical decisions, placing your future in danger as you never tempered your Heart ideas with logical considerations from your Head.

The best process, he suggests, is the Heart-Head journey. Identify and clarify your Passions, those deeply held beliefs and drives that make you the extraordinary person you are and then evaluate alternatives and drive your actions through your Head to seek out the best path(s) to achieve your Passions.

According to Chang, this Heart-Head process is the ultimate way to achieve what he calls “capital P Profit,” Profit that feeds the soul as well as the body! In the introduction to his book he quotes Benjamin Disraeli- “Man is only truly great when he acts from the passions.”

How about you? Do you know where your passions lie? If not, take action to discover them.

Here’s a humble introduction, dear readers, to what I like to call The 3 E’s of Employment, as well as the significance of getting to the final “E”.

E #1 –  EXPERIENCE

How do you get experience? By doing it, of course. We are constantly gathering experience in one area or another. It is often a requirement for a position – “5 years experience in a related business setting,” etc. Doing things over and over again will create experience. You can then tell people, “I have 10 years experience in a retail management setting,” or in whatever you have been doing. My critical question here is – “Just because you have done it before, does it mean you want to do it again?!” Many would be pleased to eliminate what they have done from consideration of what they want to do next in their career. Translation – “Been there, done that, have the T-shirt.” Experience has value, but it’s simply not enough.

E #2 – EXPERTISE

Expertise comes from experience. In most situations, if you do something long enough, you get good at it. That’s Expertise, whether it is in use of specific software applications, calming upset customers or trouble-shooting an ailing piece of equipment. You can’t help but improve if you do it day in and day out.  So, all of this Experience you are compiling will eventually promote some level of  Expertise as well. But wait! Just because you are good at it, does this mean that you must do it for the rest of your working life (I think you know the answer!)? I have solid math skills, but trust me, you don’t want me to do your taxes! Just as is the case in Experience, Expertise has limited value as well.

E #3 – ENTHUSIASM

NOW we are talking! Enthusiasm (the etymology is Greek, literally en theos, or “in God”) is where we all should be targeting our energies. Similar to what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (chick-sent-me-hi) calls “Flow,” Enthusiasm has us so involved in what we are doing that we often lost track of time and space. To describe it simply as work does not do justice to our activities. We are, to use a highly quoted word, “engaged” in what we are doing. It has value to us, employs much of what I have called  in earlier blogs our “Best Stuff,” feels significant and worthwhile. And, when combined with the first two E’s, creates the Perfect Storm of Employment.

Look at what happens when we put these 3 E’s together – I do it a lot, I am good at it and I am passionate about it!

What a great way to work (if we can even call it work)! The practical application of this should be a wake-up call to both employers and employees.

Let’s seek out opportunities for all of us to get the most out of our working relationships.

And banish “Hump Day” from our calendars!

I’ve always wanted to juggle. I have read books, studied YouTube videos, pored over websites, etc. All to no avail. Yet I have family members who have picked up three objects and successfully managed it with ease.

I guess I just don’t have the talent!

Talent. Talent Scouts. Talent Management.  The word turns up a lot. In my reading and musings over the years, I have learned of four key themes that every talent (skill, gift, aptitude, expertise, pick the synonym you wish) seems to have. Maybe they will help you find yours. Allow me to share them with you:

1. You have an instinctive, top of the mind ability to use it. World class athletes don’t have to think about how to stroke a tennis forehand, counselors have an innate ability to hear emotions, engineers naturally gather data for decision-making, etc. You need not think about how to do it. It just happens. It’s hard-wired into your psyche..

2. You have a desire, a yearning to use it, even if you have difficulty describing it! I am constantly amazed by clients who clearly have innate abilities that they practice daily in their work and play, yet are unable to recognize their significance in planning careers and life decisions.

3. When you are called upon to acquire knowledge in this area, it comes easily and quickly. I still recall my struggle with learning geography (“Why bother?” – I asked myself. “That’s what maps and Google Earth are for!”), yet I was able to soak up information on computer technology and New Testament Greek like a sponge!

4. As you look back on the practice of this “talent,” you experience true satisfaction. “Flow” is the term used by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (read my reviews of a number of his books at http://www.shelfari.com/bl_davis) to describe what he calls the “psychology of optimal experience.” When you are in Flow, you lose track of time and space. When finished, you feel that you have accomplished something worthwhile, something of true value. It was worth doing.

  • If your talent meets these four criteria, then what are you waiting for? Start to use it!
  • Or, if you’re having difficulty finding where your talents lie, let’s talk!

The best path is always the positive one. I owe the following parable to my dear Grandma Lucy Matilda Rhoads Davis. She’s in Heaven now, but thoughts of her always bring a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. Here it is…

Old Saidie, an aged widow in a sleepy little town, always had a nice thing to say about everyone she met. She didn’t seem to have a negative bone in her body, and was consistently able to point out the good side of people.

Well, the town drunk died. This ne’er do well had never held a job in his life. His entire existence consisted of scaring toddlers, taking advantage of others or bumming money for cigarettes and alcohol. As he had finally Optimism buttompassed away, the entire town showed up at the funeral, if only to find out what Saidie would have to say about a man who seemed to be totally lacking any good qualities in his entire life.

As Saidie shuffled up to the casket, one brave soul called out, “Hey, Saidie! What did you think of Mr. Johnson?!

Without missing a beat, Saidie smiled and exclaimed, “Oh, couldn’t he whistle?!”

Let’s be more like Saidie, finding and celebrating the Best that’s around us. We just have to pay attention to find it!

Thanks, Grandma Lucy!

Think back to your childhood (for some of us it may take longer than others, but please just do this for me). What was your “job” as a kid? I mean, before mowing lawns and paper routes.

Here’s the answer: your job was simply TO PLAY. That’s what kids do. That’s how they learn to socialize, develop physically, enhance their ability to communicate, etc.

So, kids “play for a living.”

One more question: How did you decide what to play? Why did you pick some activities and skip others?

I know how: you picked what was FUN. If it wasn’t fun, it wasn’t play!

Here are the hard, cold facts. At some point in each of our lives, some well-meaning adult came up to most of us and said knowingly and with a knitted brow, “OK. FUN time is over. It’s time to go TO WORK!” Ugh! Precious few people will feel good about that choice!

I have one more query for you: WHY do work and fun have to be mutually exclusive?! Why do you have to forgo enjoyment every time you get a paycheck?! Why must you choose between a pleasant experience and a job description?!

Allow me to introduce one of my personal guiding principles- I refuse to not have fun at work! Optimism-Breeds-Optimism

Please don’t misunderstand me. There are some things about my job that I would give up in a New York minute. Paperwork comes to mind right away. I’m honestly not that good at it! Every employment situation is likely to have some duties that you would love to eliminate. I call these tasks the “grown-up stuff.” Things you must do because you are told to. These duties can build character, demonstrate dependability and integrity. But if all you do at work is “grown-up stuff,” you may need to rethink your career goals.

When I place myself in situations where my work is primarily composed of activities that I actually enjoy (I have called this the move from Experience and Expertise to Enthusiasm in another blog ), I become the best employee I will ever be. The responsibility rests with me (and, ideally, my organization as well) to discover, communicate and implement my “best stuff” (another one of my favorite phrases) in my work and life. Then my company really gets their “money’s worth” out of me, and I cease being a “5 o’clock shadow!”

How about you?! Are you having FUN at WORK?  If so, great! If not, start to find it!