Archive for category Career satisfaction

Four pathways to meaning

another year over... by piotr (peter) chlipalski

I have no idea what it means but I like it.

Regular readers of this blog will know that a recurring theme is the notion of meaning in our working lives. I’m also a big fan of simple models and frameworks to help structure and analyse complex ideas. So, I was excited to discover an article which not only conducted an extensive review of the literature of meaning in work, but which presented a simple way of categorising the various ways in which people find meaning.

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How stable are work values?

Icarus by Steve Jurvetson

Think of your work values as the navigational guidance system for your career... oh!

How much do your work values change over time?

Are there times when your work values change more than others?

How much are your work values influenced by what is happening around you?

Do you adjust your values according to what is available to you?

Do some generations have more stable work values than others?

These are just some of the questions that a new meta-analysis by Jing Jin and James Rounds from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign tries to answer.

But first… what are work values?

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The ‘High Five’ of career development

Virtual Five! by Melanie Allan

Up high! Down low! Too slow!

Yesterday I attended the NICEC workshop on the Blueprint for Career Development. This is a competency framework for career management skills that was originally developed in Canada and has been adopted by Australia and some European countries. I don’t have time to blog about the Blueprint properly at the moment so watch out for a future post on it. In the meantime, you might want to take a look at Tristram Hooley’s presentation from the workshop and poke around on the Australian Blueprint website.

For this post I wanted to refer to something that is mentioned, almost in passing, in the Blueprint material — the ‘High Five of Career Development’.

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How many needs?

i want softness by By the|G|™ (Paul G)

Why is softness not on any of these lists?

According to Maslow we have five (or is it eight?). However, many other people have thought about what human beings need to be happy and fulfilled, what we strive for and what motivates us, they have come up with some different numbers.

ERG Theory (3 needs)

Clayton Alderfer (1969) set about rearranging Maslow’s needs. Rather than Maslow’s traditional hierarchy, he suggested that human needs were made up of three relatively independent factors and the order may vary between individuals.

  • Existence — made up of Maslow’s Physiological and Safety needs.
  • Relatedness — made up of the Social need and externally-sourced Esteem.
  • Growth — made up of internally-sourced Esteem and Self-actualisation.

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Is your work meaningful?

sysiphus-tee-wht by fouro boros

Beware: worthless, pointless, trivial and futile activity ahead

Rachel Mulvey’s post last week on the existential nature of continuing professional development has turned my thoughts once again to the concept of meaningfulness.

Partly inspired by Rachel’s idea, I have been writing an article for the Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling on the use of narrative techniques in reflective practice for guidance practitioners (I know, exciting stuff, huh?). As part of my research for this piece I came across an article by W.D. Joske on Philosophy and the meaning of life’. Unlike many of the philosophy articles I’ve tried (and failed) to get to grips with, this was actually quite readable because Joske demonstrates a subtle, dry sense of humour in his writing.

…many people are afraid of philosophy precisely because they dread being forced to the horrifying conclusion that life is meaningless, so that human activities are ultimately insignificant, absurd and inconsequential

The world is neutral and cannot give meaning to men, If someone wants life to be meaningful he cannot discover that meaning but must provide it himself. How we go about giving meaning to life seems to depend upon the society we accept as our own; a Frenchman might leap into the dark, an American go to a psycho-analyst, and an Englishman cease asking embarrassing questions.

As well as being amusing, Joske is quite analytical and, in his attempt to explore meaning, he breaks down the meaninglessness of activities into four essential elements: worthlessness, pointlessness, triviality and futility.

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Universal needs?

Stony Faced by floato

Graham was happy when he finally found an adequate way to satisfy his need for security

What are the fundamental human needs?

What things, if we get them, will make us happy human beings?

Are there such things as universal human needs, that everyone in every society would identify with, or does it depend on your personality and cultural background?

In an earlier post on Maslow’s classic hierarchy of needs, I mentioned that it had been criticised (Hofstede, 1984)  for being based on Western sensibilities. In defence of his criticism Hofstede cited a research study by Haire et al. (1966) in which managers from 14 different countries were asked to rate the importance of various needs (security, social, esteem, autonomy, self-actualisation) as well as indicating their level of satisfaction and fulfilment of those needs.

In this study, only the managers from the US ranked the needs in the order proposed by Maslow.

So does that mean that Maslow’s needs are not universal?

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Towards or away from?

push pull by Robert S. Donovan

Sometimes you don't know if you're coming or going

Think about a recent job change that you made by your own initiative (rather than by force of circumstance, such as redundancy).

Why did you change? Had you got so fed up with your previous job that you had to move to preserve your sanity? Or were you tempted away by the opportunities on offer in the new job?

What about changing your mobile phone company, utilities, mortgage deal or internet service provider? Do you switch when you get fed up or do you constantly look for better deals?

What motivates you at work and why is it important to you? When you’re thinking about a job move, do you make a list of what you want or a list of what you don’t want?

When you make a list of pros and cons, which column tends to be most influential in making your mind up about something?

This issue of whether you are moving towards something or moving away from something has been a recurring theme in things I have been reading and in discussions I have been having over the last couple of weeks.

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Cultural or universal

dharma wheel by Michael Hartford (mhartford)

Universal concepts

In The East and West of Careers Guidance, my colleague Saiyada talked about the Jiva project promoting career development counselling in India.

A recent paper by G. Arulmani (2011) expands on some of the cultural concepts that underlie this approach to careers work. I have my reservations about the research presented in the paper which claims to demonstrate that grounding career education in a culturally relevant framework is more effective than applying more universalist approaches.

This may well be true, but it’s really hard to tell from the details give of the differences between the two approaches used in the research whether the greater effectiveness is down to the cultural relevance or just down to providing a more coherent conceptual framework for the career development activities.

Aside from these concerns about the research methods, I do find the concepts derived from Asian spiritual traditions very thought provoking, especially when comparing them to equivalent concepts from Western career development theory.

Apologies in advance for my over-simplification of these concepts.

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What does success mean to you?

You will be successful in everything - ooops!

In this post, I’m doggedly continuing my pursuit to explore the idea of career success.

We started with a simple binary distinction: objective success versus subjective success. We realised that this was somewhat crude and that a bit more subtlety might be useful.

In the previous post, we added an extra dimension about how you might measure success (self-referent versus other-referent comparison).

Now it’s time to take things multidimensional!

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The Meaning Triangle

The search for infinity - Chris Halderman

In the search for meaning it is often helpful to carry a violin and wear a coat made of flames.

As the post on existentialism has been one of my most popular, I thought I would do something more on the subject of meaningfulness.

And when it comes to meaning, it seems that three is a magic number.

But first a short story (involving three workers)…

A traveller comes across a group of three men who are working hard smashing boulders with large hammers.

He asks them what they are doing.

The first man answers, ‘I’m using my strength and skill to make big rocks into small rocks.’

The second man answers, ‘I’m working to earn money so that I can feed and support my family.’

The third man answers, ‘I’m preparing the raw materials to build a cathedral for the glory of God.’

Which of these three men was doing the most meaningful work?

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