Workers Can Lead More Fulfilling Careers and Companies Can Hold onto their Best Talent by Lending a Hand
Career fulfillment and success is a tricky topic. There are plenty of employers that have grown sick of hearing applicants and employees ask, ‘well, what is the company going to do for me?’ While at the same time trying to cater to that request because they need to attract and retain a talented workforce.
On the other hand, there are plenty of hard working people bouncing from workplace to workplace in search of an organization in which they feel safe investing their time. In so many situations these professionals feel as if they are only moments away from losing all of the career momentum they’ve worked so hard to create, and so they continue to job hop in hopes that the grass is really greener on the other side.
The truth is that a successful career path isn’t as easy to define as it once was. As a result, workers are having a hard time finding career fulfillment because most of them just don’t know how to measure it.
Still plenty of people envision their career path as a ladder that they can climb. By simply doing what is asked, keeping their head down, and putting in the right amount of time these professionals expect to be promoted up the rungs of their career when it becomes their time comes.
Today however, careers don’t have such a linear path. Manpower’s Right Management compares today’s typical career path to be more similar to a lattice. That is to say a person can move in a number of directions at any given time per the quality of their work and what their prior achievements qualify them to do next. This type of career progress is completely independent of time spent in an organization or industry.
5 Steps to a more Fulfilling Career
Thankfully enough there are things that a person can do to influence the trajectory of their career, even if its path resembles a lattice.
Melanie Allan suggest, in a syndicated article for ComeRecommended, that professionals do five things if they wish to be fulfilled by their careers.
- Find Your Purpose
When it comes to our careers we have a lot of options in which direction we can go. Some will get you closer to what you want, while others will detract from your progress.
Of course, if you aren’t clear on what your mission is, it sure is hard to decide between your many options.
This applies especially to achieving career fulfillment. If you haven’t already decided what will give you fulfillment it can be hard to decipher whether you’re headed in the right direction.
In finding your purpose, writing a mission statement can help you to articulate a long-term vision for your career. To make this process easier we’ve created a FREE step-by-step worksheet that will help you to write your very own. [Click Here for FREE Worksheet]
- Know When it’s Time to Say No to an Unfulfilling Career
The perfect time to say no is the moment you realize that your career isn’t contributing to your personal fulfillment.
- Take Aristotle’s Advice
“Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.”
- Work Like an Alchemist Rather Than a Gold Miner
What makes up a fulfilling career is subjective. Whether or not a career is fulfilling will be determined by your unique personality, and that means it is likely to require some trial and error before you find the right fit.
It is like the work of an alchemist, who labors for years through trial and error before he is able to make gold.
- Be Thankful When You Get There
The thing about fulfillment is that it can be fleeting. While it is something that requires hard work to achieve and discipline to maintain, it can also be easily overlooked.
Fulfillment – like happiness – is something that requires consciousness to achieve and consciousness to experience. We have to remember that being fulfilled also requires we choose to feel it.
Career Fulfillment and Life-Time Happiness
As it turns out, your career success and the levels of fulfillment you attain through your work early-on could impact your happiness in the long-term.
Over a period of 52 years, a study found that those men who said they were struggling to meet their career goals before the age of 27 reported their lives lacked meaning and fulfillment at the age of 77.
The article states that, “Men report more life satisfaction in later life the better they do early on.”
This could of course be a result of a self-fulfilling prophecy being realized though men that had developed negative outlooks on the state of their careers as young professionals. These outlooks could have negatively impacted the outcomes of their careers and their levels of fulfillment respectively.
At the same time it is probable that a number of these men lead very meaningful and successful careers by the standard of anyone but themselves.
It can take years and often decades to build up a great company or an impressive backlog of work. But it also takes the proper frame of reference to see a thriving company or a backlog of work as a measure of success.
There is always room for improvement in anything we do. Fulfillment and success can’t be measured if you subtract the potential for future progress from their current value.
While there is no doubt that career success can have a significant impact on your happiness in the short-term and the long-term, It’s important to remember that this correlation of early careers without success and professionals who feel unfulfilled later in life does not identify causality. Failure early on in a career does not mean that a person’s entire career is destine to fraught with failure.
Bill Gates’ first company, Traf-O-Data, flopped when the State of Washington began to offer the same traffic counting services to Cities and Counties for free. Henry Ford’s first automobile business the Detroit Automotive Company started to come undone part way through its second year of operation. Walt Disney’s first studio Laugh-O-Gram failed while he was in his early 20’s. All of these men had failed ventures, but went on to titans of their industries.
Of course, if you see yourself as a failure because of your frame of reference, if you dwell on the negative outcomes instead of giving yourself credit for positive achievements, you’ll always find a reason to be unsatisfied and feel unfulfilled.
As Melanie Allan suggest in her article, being clear with your objectives – knowing your purpose – can help you make decisions, but it can also help you focus on what’s most important. It will help you narrow the field in which you measure success and failure.
Time is Scarce – How You Use it is Important
With limited time and resources a single person can only excel in a finite number of things. With so many directions to go in, this makes it especially important that we are calibrated to measure success and fulfillment accurately.
If you focus your effort on one area of achievement, but base your fulfillment on another, you’ll never feel successful of fulfilled. Whereas if you clarify your intentions, focus your energy, and honestly pursue a small number of objectives you can’t help but make progress.
Without that focused attention however – if you go a mile wide but only an inch deep – it’s going to be hard to accomplish much of anything.
Progress requires time and Tony Robbins reminds us that “Today, most people spend more time at work than they do with their family. The most sacred gift that you can give, besides your love, is your labor. So find something that you’re here to play for that’s more than just yourself.”
Fulfilling Careers Instead of Filling Jobs
According to Manpower Group’s Right Management roughly 70% of employees are not engaged in their work. There is something else they’d rather be doing.
Along with current workforces being disengaged Right Management reports that 38% of employers are having difficulty in filling key job openings. Which could be the result of a trend among candidates who are opting to pursue a career that meets their individual terms, even if it means passing on what would have been considered a job for life.
The bottom line says Right Management is that, “in today’s Human Age, the organization succeeds by helping the individual succeed.” That is, only by seeking to develop staffers will organizations be able to compete in attracting and retaining sought after talent.
Without a focus on professional development companies will struggle to hold onto the talent they desperately need. Right Management also suggests that organizations that have not seen returns on implementing professional development programs tweak their approach and try again. Their workforce and talent pool still wants to see these programs as a part of the company culture.
Becoming the Manager that Can Fulfill Careers
Being the boss people want to work for, a boss whose intentions align with the career objectives of your team members, would seem to be easier said than done. If it was easy or natural, it would already be the norm, but still approximately 70% of workers don’t describe themselves as engaged.
To fix this problem Jonathan Raymond’s company Refound.com began coaching business leaders on how to become “the CEO of the future,” one who is not only able to build a business, but also provide personal value to his or her employees.
In a recent interview with Geoff Woods, Raymond shared his insight on what works and what doesn’t work in trying to lead others to be successful as individuals, so that they can make greater contributions to the success of an organization. Among his insight was emphasis on the importance of transparency and accountability in leadership.
Accountability and transparency on all levels is something that Raymond says is crucial to the healthy function of an organization. There needs to consequences for undesired behaviors and members of leadership aren’t to be exempt or shielded from those consequences.
When organizations and their leaders allow themselves to be vulnerable like this, they create opportunities for building rapport with their teams. That rapport is the kind of engagement so many workers are looking for. That kind of honesty makes the organization’s branding as an employer seem even more sincere.
And while employees say they want opportunities for development, they are only people after all. Being asked to change a habit or behavior, even in the name of professional growth can be hard for someone to hear. Many people can be resistant to any change that isn’t self-inspired.
If the corrective request, however, is coming from someone who has already show their dedication to progress, that resistance is likely to be much lower.
Career Fulfillment is Everyone’s Responsibility
Development of employees is as much the individual’s responsibility as it is the company’s. Professionals can’t expect their companies to promote them or hold on to them as industries change if they haven’t taken the time to grow with the industry.
At the same time companies can’t expect employees to learn the newest skills necessary to meet the company’s ever changing needs if there aren’t opportunities to learn built into their daily responsibilities.
If both side work together – acting as the catalyst for the others growth, both the individuals and the organization can grow as one with the opportunity to prosper for years to come.
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