We intuitively know that most people are not engaged or fulfilled at work. Instead of citing sources, I’ll simply ask you to think of five people you know. How many of them thoroughly enjoy how they make a living? I know this number is low. Why is engagement such a challenge?
The reasons are pretty straight forward and easy to fix. People are discontent with work for two primary reasons.
Reason # 1
People are most engaged at work when their job utilizes their core strengths and natural abilities. Suppose you are a woman who has a strong ability to generate lots of ideas but you work in a regimented and structured environment. Perhaps this environment discourages outside of the box thinking. Strong abilities demand to be utilization. In our current example, moving to an area of the organization that puts a premium on ideas and that is less structured is a great way to exercise this natural ability for idea generation.
Another possibility in this example would be moving to a smaller organization where the roles and responsibilities are more fluid and provide more opportunities to utilize your strong ability for ideation.
Until you are able to make the move to another department or organization that places a premium on high idea productivity, find a hobby or volunteer opportunity to use this strength.
Reason # 2
People are are unfulfilled because their natural abilities are a mismatch for the role. I remember early in my career working in a role which required strong organization and planning skills. During times of low volume I did well but when the volume peaked, I floundered. I would leave work frustrated, exhausted and unfulfilled. My first fix was to move to an organization that was smaller with less structure and a lower volume of work. This work for a few years until a series of layoffs permanently increased the work volume. The long term fix for me, and one that many people find effective was to find a role that utilized my key abilities and relied on very few of my areas of opportunity.
I was lucky and found a role that utilized a combination of my abilities. Before I had the career change, I didn’t have a clear picture of my natural abilities. I do now. As an extroverted specialist with high idea productivity, my role as a facilitator, consultant, and coach provide me ample opportunities to express expertise and perform which are important to me. Working with really smart and successful people gives me the opportunity to utilize my high vocabulary skills.
Determining and utilizing your strong abilities is the key to finding fulfillment at work. The truth is I worked hard it figuring it out and got lucky. The good news is there is a proven scientific method to determine your core abilities and certified coaches like myself who can help you to understand your results.