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Owen Shedrack: What Exactly Do You Want From Your Job?

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Why do you go to work?

Everybody seems to have a similar answer: to earn a living. In reality, it goes beyond this answer. Money is important. I mean, you have to make a lot of it before you can say otherwise – but it isn’t everything.

Research has shown that while earnings are important, people expect more from their jobs. A survey by the American Industrial Society showed factors like interest/enjoyment, job security and a sense of accomplishment were more important than basic pay for most people. You may be saying, “I’m not most people”. Whether you are or not, you still have to decide what you want.

Let’s take a quick exercise to checklist your target organisation. Answer these questions with a yes or no.

  • Expectations – Do I know what they’re expecting from me? Do they know what I’m expecting from them?
  • Communication – Are the channels of communication obvious? Do they work?
  • Challenge – Am I going to be stretched?
  • Recognition – Will my contribution ever be recognized?
  • Training and development – Will I get any?
  • Culture – Do I like their style? Will I fit in?

You can also study the following job factors and rank them in order of importance. 1 for the most important factor, 15 for the least important factor.

  • Basic Pay
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Credit for a job well done
  • Flexible hours
  • Go-head employer
  • Fully utilising skills/talents
  • Having a say
  • Interest/enjoyment
  • Job security
  • Learning new skills
  • Physical working conditions
  • Sense of accomplishment
  • Skilled management
  • Sufficient help/support/equipment
  • Working for a boss your respect

It is important that when you’re job searching or taking a new role, you check if, at least, your top five factors will be met. Yes, salary is important but don’t be swayed by that – it is not everything.

The grass may look greener but then, it may not. If you’re considering a career change, ask yourself, “what am I running away from? What am I running towards?”

Imagine a scenario where you are a Human Resource Manager in a growing startup. You enjoy the close contact you have with almost everyone. The CEO trusts and respects your work and gives you the privilege to influence or make decisions. You receive fair appraisals and it is ensured that you’re stretched a little by being part of several challenging projects that’s also beneficial to your career. You simply love your job, it is just a 25 minutes-drive.

Well, over a year and you think you deserve more. A phone call and a couple of interviews and you land a job with an annual net-pay of N2 million and a private company car. Yippee! But you’ll have to put up with a two-hours drive to work in the city each morning. You think it’s worth it – after all, you’re the Chief Specialist in compensation and benefits for a ‘Multinational Company’.

You barely see your boss or hold frequent interactions, instead, you’re locked in the tenth floor, surrounded by computers and a library of company policies, procedures, printouts, etc. You can choose to do your job standing, sitting or on your head, nobody cares, as long as you deliver on your KPIs. Now, you’re bored to tears and you even have less time to carry out new projects or self-develop. You’re ready to leave after six months. All of a sudden, the jobs have evaporated! You can no longer just choose.

While every individual or professional has a unique or relative career interest, goals or opportunity at each point in time, it is important to evaluate key job factors before you move. This is true because fulfillment and success are closely tied, and you can never be successful if you don’t love what you do – job satisfaction is also as important as your basic pay. After all, you wouldn’t want to be starting all over again, time after time, jumping on jobs.

Why people resign – the six common reasons

According to Malcom Hornby, on Get that Job, some of the reasons people resign are:

  • Initial expectation mismatch: There’s no clear job description, and initial expectations do not match up to the reality of working. You were told A at interview and promised heaven, but while doing the job, you got B, with a touch of hell.
  • Lack of communication. Coupled with work pressures, people get discouraged when there’s poor communication. People also feel forgotten because during decisions, they’re not given a consideration as stakeholders. Isolation or uncertainty breeds insecurity, apathy and cynicism. They resign out of frustration.
  • Challenge: People love change, as far as it answers the question of ‘what’s in it for me?’ They hate having that feeling of outgrowing their role.
  • Lack of recognition: How many times have you felt your hard work and commitment have not even been recognised, let alone rewarded? People leave their jobs when they do not feel recognised or appreciated.
  • Training and development: If a person is not developing and being stretched in his job, then the company is providing just a job, rather than a career. Training adds value to the individual. It makes a person appreciate the employer more.
  • Culture misfit: Every workplace has its own culture and style. Sometimes, there’s a mismatch between the employee and a company’s culture. People can adapt, but they have a breaking point if their elastic limits are exceeded, and they leave if or when it gets to that stage.

Now go back to the first exercise. How does your target company, your next role or new job measure up to these points?

If you cannot tick all the six, review your current career-situation, your goals and ask yourself if it’s the right company for you, and if you are willing to let go.

Owen Shedrack is an entrepreneur and business developer. He is the founder and Executive Director of The Groth Innovation Centre - a business incubator, enterprise resource and support center, and innovation hub in the city of Port Harcourt. He is passionate about the new media, tech, and with a great intel on thematic areas like career, pop culture and startup ecosystem. Website: www.grothhq.co | Email: [email protected]

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