There are two times of the year when the world slows and working professionals lift their heads their from duties and turn their thoughts to their careers. One is the week after Christmas; the other is this week.
If you’re lolling on a hammock, pedaling up a mountain trail or just flipping over some burgers for friends, chances are your thoughts will eventually drift to your work. In addition to the number of emails filling your inbox or the assignments that sit unfinished on your desk, you’re likely to think about career satisfaction.
Which brings me to this: Are you happy with your job?
If you’re not sure, then take a moment and remind yourself what you need to be gratified at the office. For a job to work, you need a five basic necessities, I believe.
- Relevance: For a job to work, it must feel significant, important or noble in some sense. You have to believe in the mission, in other words. If you feel your work is unimportant, you’re not likely to give it your best, which isn’t good for anyone.
- Empowerment: Does your job give you enough latitude to succeed? Can you make enough decisions to impact an outcome? Or instead, are you shackled by someone else’s definitions and restraints? A job needs to be relevant, but it also must be empowering. If you don’t believe your contributions matter, then the relevance of your work won’t matter.
- Feasibility: This might seem obvious, but a good many people I’ve interviewed over the years have held a job or two that simply wasn’t feasible in retrospect. The expectations were too high, the resources too slim. If you’re working in a role that comes up short of its goals, fails to move the needle for your organization or, worse, simply disappoints customers at every turn, then you’re working at the wrong place. If management is aware of your organization’s shortfalls and does nothing about them, then you’ll never find fulfillment at work.
- Predictability: Do your company’s goals change constantly? Or its leadership? Do you jump from objective to objective for no apparent reason? If so, you’re working for a company that lacks a “true north.” Without a beacon to guide it, your career will drift at a company like this.
- Fulfillment: This boils down to environmental considerations, including the basics. Do you respect your boss? Do you get along with your co-workers? Is your commute reasonable? Does the company pay you what you are worth and are its benefits commensurate with your contributions?
In all the time that I have worked in this industry—it’ll be 30 years come October—I’ve only had all five things going my way once. And that lasted for a mere few months. When I look back and think about the times I liked the way my career was going, I realize that I had at least three of the things listed above going my way. There were times I had four and others that I had only two. But three was a key number, at least to me.
No one will stay at a job when they have only one thing going their way from the list above. But they will stay when they only have two, but only for a brief period. When an employee has three or four things going their way, they will dig in for the long haul and will only leave for a life-changing opportunity.
If you’re an employee, ask yourself how many of the things listed above do you have? And if you’re an employer, ask yourself how many you provide.
In baseball, batting two out of five will put you in the Hall of Fame. But in technology, it will only lead to turnover. Yours or your employees.
Speaking of careers, if you’re wondering what hot jobs are paying, then be sure to check out Tom Kaneshige’s “Zero One” report on “16 Hottest Digital Transformation Skills.”
While you’re thinking about those, you might wonder about the impact that AI and robotics will have on employment in our field. (This is something I’ve written about previously.)
A good many people are thinking about this issue, including those training a new generation of workers. Take researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. In one of the school’s new MBA classes, educators prepare students for the distinct possibility that they may one day manage, work with or even work for a robot. The class “teaches [students] how to coexist with their future artificial intelligence colleagues,” the school says.
“Some reports are predicting that half of U.S. jobs are at risk of automation,” says MS&T Researcher and Educator Dr. Keng Siau. “Business managers and executives need to understand and comprehend the impending artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning and automation revolution and its devastating impacts.”
Finally, if you’re not wild about my list of career must haves, then consider another. This following comes from Life Coach Emily Holland, writing for The Chopra Center: “5 Key Factors to Finding Job Satisfaction.”
Enjoy the rest of your week.