Job, Impressive Career, Simply a Calling
2012 | When
I think of work, I think along these lines:
1. Do I get the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
2. Am I capitalising on my strengths, interests/passions, and abilities?
3. Is my work intrinsically fulfilling?
Thankfully, I can answer with a resounding ‘yes’ to
each of these. Are there more perspectives? Of course there are.
So why do I only focus on these three?
Organisation (read Now, Discover
your Strengths by Buckingham and Clifton) found that asking
the simple question “Do you get to do what you do best every
day?” yields interesting information about people in organisations.
If you answered with a clear yes, it is quite likely that you love
what you do.
Organisations that allow their people to do what they do best every
day would reap significant rewards. Their people are more productive,
more enthusiastic and engaged, more resilient and loyal when compared
to employees in organisations that do not allow such a fit. The
positive impact includes financial growth as well as lower turnover
The method is simple – leverage on strengths and manage around
weaknesses, for significantly quicker and better results. The Gallup
definition of strength is consistent near perfect performance in
an activity where Talent + Knowledge + Skills = Strength. Indeed
strength-based talent management feeds the human need for achievement
amazing discovery is that the job–career–calling
distinction does not depend on occupation.
qualifications do not reflect job applicants’ interests or
passions, skills and special abilities. For instance, when we read
an application that glibly mentions “I am an XXX graduate
with first class honours. Given the opportunity, I will be a diligent
loyal employee”, we are no more informed than if we only read
his/her college transcripts.
Compare with “I hold a 1st Class Honours degree in XXX, and
I am highly competent in designing, planning and conducting research,
running analyses, as well as creating impactful presentations. I
am also interested in learning the art of effective interpersonal
communication. This job will give me the opportunity to put to use
both my technical and communication skills.”
Which candidate would you shortlist? The difference between the
two goes beyond writing style and boldness. The latter candidate
gives you a window into his world and you can make a fairly good
guess at the job role – person fit. Where there is a fit,
you can expect enthusiasm for tackling the challenges of the job
and likelihood of job satisfaction and flow experience.
Habits of the Heart, Bellah et al. (1985) wrote that there are three
distinct relations that people have to their work - as Jobs, Careers,
and Callings. People who see work as job labour purely for financial
rewards out of necessity rather than for pleasure or fulfillment
of interests and ambition. For them, work is not an end in itself
but a means to acquiring that which makes life away from work enjoyable.
They tend to be clock-watchers at work. In contrast, the career-minded
are deeply and personally invested in their work. They gauge their
achievement not only by monetary gain but through advancement within
the occupational hierarchy in terms of higher social standing, power
and influence, and higher self-esteem. Finally, there are people
for whom their work is inseparable from their life and define who
they are. They do not work for financial rewards or career advancement
and recognition, but work because what they do is fulfilling in
itself. They have a calling and their work is meaningful to them,
in service to some greater cause. They love their work passionately
and think that they can contribute to making the world a better
place and thus making an impact.
The amazing discovery
is that the job–career–calling distinction does not
depend on occupation. Within any occupation from janitor to corporate
executive, we can find individuals who are related to their work
in one of these three ways.
good news is that employers can facilitate a change in their employees’
perception of jobs into ‘great jobs’ or even ‘callings’
by re-focusing attention on to the significance of their jobs to
the business, the environment, the community or any meaningful cause.
Transformed employees bring palpable positive energy to their work
and produce much improved results.
When all three criteria are met i.e, an employee has the opportunity
to do what he does best every day in his field of interest and passion,
and finds what he does intrinsically fulfilling, the adage ‘do
work that you love, and you never work a day’ becomes a truism.
This person would work unperturbed by time, effort or money –
in flow and blissful.
for your dream job? Check this blog out : zen
at HR Matters for full access to her other column pieces.
More and Simpler, Sulynn's previous article, in the January
Issue 18 | April 2012
What This Means For HR
is a Positive Change Consultant/Coach with Human Capital
Perspectives and the Founder/Chief Engagement Officer
at the Asian Centre for Applied Positive Psychology