- Nigel Nolan
When you feel you don’t “fit” or something is not quite right about work
It is not at all uncommon for people to feel that there is something not quite right about their career or their job. Perhaps it is a feeling that their job is not a good ‘fit’ in some way, or that they have no idea where their career is going.
Sometimes this manifests itself in a lack of ‘passion’ for their job – they literally ‘drag their feet’ to work or dread Monday mornings. Nothing about their work excites them. They may feel envious of and amazed at friends who seem to love their job, and who talk quite passionately about it.
For others, their career is a series of mishaps, or it seems to them that they just didn’t have any luck with that job or that boss or that company. They are not promoted after five years or see others who started at the same time as them leap up the promotional ladder. They leave looking for a better job or better company to work for, but that one seems no better either.
They know something isn’t right but can’t really articulate it. Friends or their spouse notice that they are not happy with their work, but they too don’t know why.
These are all symptoms of a lack of ‘fit’ between a person and their career or job. Unfortunately many people in this situation will not think to go and talk with a career coach or career counsellor who can help them see what is happening and why. This lack of ‘fit’ is usually due to one or more of the following causes:
Their career or job simply does not suit their personality. Psychometric inventories or personality assessments such as the MBTI (Myer Briggs Type Indicator) identify careers that people of a particular personality type find satisfaction in – they also identify those jobs that people with their personality type least enjoy. Regrettably many people did not have the benefit of structured career guidance in school or college and ended up in a career that is unsuitable to their personality.
The second cause is similar and indeed associated with the first one, and that is a lack of synchronisation with their core interests – what they do in work does not overlap with the kind of things they are particularly interested in. Again, a psychometric inventory such as the Strong Interests Inventory (SII) can quickly determine this.
Everybody has a set of skills and some of these skills they are pretty good at, and others they really enjoy doing. When people list their skills, only some of those that they are good at will also be those they enjoy doing – these are a person’s strengths. When a person’s job involves using their strengths, they excel at their work and feel happy and content. Unfortunately people are frequently asked to do tasks that they are good at but just don’t enjoy doing. If they have to work at tasks they don’t enjoy too much, this creates stress and dissatisfaction at work.
Values are what are important to people about various aspects of their life. Their work values drive their behaviours and motivate them – they determine what people focus on and spend their time on. Most of the time they are not aware of them, but then something happens and they immediately know that their values have been infringed and their boundaries violated. If people’s values are not being met in work, they feel that something is wrong and this nags at them over time. Sometimes they feel that the job or the work environment has changed, and they become dissatisfied and demotivated. Having a competent person elicit their work values clarifies the situation and provides direction for future action.