Interviews–listen, laugh, & land the job!

I often use this blog to talk about the importance of narrative in career development.  Telling good stories in an interview can be essential to getting a job offer.  Here’s why:

“I must sell myself.”  This is the mindset of most individuals when they go into a job interview.  They presume that the interview is primarily about them.  After all, the opening question is usually some variation of “Tell us about you.”

I know it’s counter-intuitive but the interview is not really about you; it’s really about the needs and priorities of the organization conducting the interview and, more specifically, about the needs and preferences of the manager that you might report to.

When I coach my clients through interviews, I ask them to take some time after the interview to write down the questions they were asked.  For example, here are some questions a client was asked at a recent interview for a Business Systems Analyst (BSA) role:

– What are some of the challenges I have had with communicating to stakeholders?

– What are some of the challenges I have had communicating with employees? 

– How do I deal with not sticking to a deadline and how do I communicate this with stakeholders? 

– How have I contributed to the productivity of my previous team? 

It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand what a BSA does.  What matters here is that these Qs reveal the concerns of the employer, they reveal the internal challenges or pain points this company is experiencing in their current client service operations.  They want to make sure that this candidate knows how to deal with such challenges and can solve these problems, not make them worse.

Most people think of an interview as a test, a one-way street on which interviewers ask questions and the interviewee must give the ‘right’ answers in order to pass the test and get a job offer.  Again, I know this is counter-intuitive, but an interview is actually a conversation or dialogue conducted by an employer who is trying to get to know you well enough to decide if you are ‘safe’ to hire.  Your goal in the interview is to make it easier for the employer to hire you because you are, in fact, a ‘safe’ candidate, someone who will make the manager’s job easier not harder.

Because I had prepared my client for such Qs, he told stories of himself in action solving these types of issues and getting quantifiable results for his previous employers.  He even managed to insert some humour into his stories. 

Think about this:  who is the most popular person at a party (besides the host providing the food and beverages)?  It’s usually the best joke teller or storyteller.  We live in a narrative culture, immersed in stories all around us—it’s what binds us together socially.  The strongest communicators among us are often the most popular, sometimes the most likeable.

Everybody enjoys a good laugh—just like the strong communicator at the party, you will become instantly likeable in an interview when you share a funny anecdote that gives people a chuckle.  A human hires humans not resumes. 

In summary: the best way to increase your chances of landing a job offer is to tell compelling stories of you in action solving problems for previous managers that are relevant to the manager you are interviewing with while getting quantifiable results…and generating a few chuckles along the way!

Write Content + Write Form = Right Career

All job change skills are actually storytelling devices whether it be a resume, networking, formal and informal interview situations, or salary negotiations…it comes down to one human being sharing their story with another.

Storytelling is a skill that anyone can learn because we all have an innate ability to do it.  The trick is to organize our stories around two key elements: content and form.  What we say and how we say it will determine how much impact or influence we have on a listener, viewer or audience. 

Luckily, we  have many sources and examples to draw on because we live in a storytelling culture.  Think about how much time you spend watching TV, DVDs or movies. Or reading newspapers, blogs, magazines, websites, graphic novels or books. Or tweeting or posting on FB or LI.  Or listening to radio broadcasts, podcasts, or audio books. Or playing charades, attending theme parties, concerts, or the theatre. We are all immersed in narrative, in a cultural soup of content and form.

For example, a resume consists of a 1-2 page summary (form) of our work history (content).  An interview is a conversation (form) that gives a picture of us in action demonstratng skills, knowledge and achievments (content) that align with  key selection criteria. Each story-telling device can be learned and applied to tell your story efficiently and effectively to achieve your job change goals.

As a career professional, I spend a good part of my day crafting stories for my clients (e.g. writing resumes, cover letters and other documents) or coaching them on how to communicate their stories with clarity and confidence (e.g. interview prep).  But, I also have my stories to tell (e.g. writing this post, or my books, or one of my creative projects). 

For many of us, telling a story in a professional context requires writing.  It takes time, energy and some skill to choose the right content and the right form.  But, when I’m not sure what I want to say or how I want to say it, I find that writing in the company of others is helpful and, sometimes, inspiring. 

Last month, I joined a Virtual Write-in moderated by Maria Ford at Phrase Strategy.  I’d been stuck on a writing project for months but joining this group of professionals for 2.5 hours of structured writing time not only got me unstuck but increased my production in an efficient and enjoyable manner.

The results of this one write-in session were so productive and pleasurable that I’ve booked another session.  You can learn more about a Virtual Write-in here and how to register for one.   Your first session is free.

Writing and comunicating well is essential to career advancement (and good for personal growth too!).  I encourage you to take advantage of such resources to write the right content and the right form to get your career right!

Fighting #FOMO with the write hack

We live in anxious times…especially in matters related to economic security.

We are all subject to pressures of competition, achievement, production and acquisition– fears, worries, anxieties about work and money are just part of navigating our economic rat race.

Most of us worry about finding a job, keeping a job, advancing with a job; we worry about paying our bills, making enough money to buy a home, or raising a family, or saving for retirement. We fear missing out on life’s many pleasures and promises.

Our anxieties are further fuelled by news reports highlighting precarious work with no benefits; corporate bankruptcies; failed government policies; the increasing reliance on robots, automation and artificial intelligence in our workplaces, and the replacement of jobs by such technologies. The future is uncertain.

Anxiety is a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive unease and apprehension. It often manifests first in a general restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, sometimes panic attacks or compulsive behaviour. If it carries on long enough, it can develop into serious illness, such as depression.

I know the telltale signs for myself, such as pacing, ruminating, procrastinating, a vague and general restlessness that interrupts, even prevents, restfulness. When feeling anxious, I know that I make poor decisions, so I’ve learned to tackle my anxiety head on.

    The write hack

We all need a work around when it comes to dealing with our anxieties. One of the first things I do when such symptoms appear is to take out a paper and pen and do a very effective writing exercise (known in some circles as morning pages) that quickly calms my worries.

If you are feeling anxious about your work and money, try this: get up in the morning and write for 3 pages non-stop about your career decisions up to this point in your life. How did you make those decisions? What were you thinking at the time? What were you expecting in terms of an outcome?

Don’t judge or censor yourself, just write whatever thoughts and feelings come to mind. Don’t stop writing until you’ve completed 3 pages. If you get stuck with writer’s block then keep writing the same thing over and over until another thought comes. You must complete 3 pages.

Do this for 5 days as early in the morning as possible. [Of course, the sooner you start this exercise when feeling anxious, the better; it’s not a substitute for clinical treatment if you’re depressed!]

By the time the fifth day rolls around, I can almost guarantee your anxiety will dissipate to the point where you can look for patterns in your pages that reveal the roots of your anxieties. Some of those roots may be internal and grounded in biology, beliefs or behaviours. Some of them may be external and rooted in your experiences with work and money. You might want to share your pages with a close friend or a professional to help you find the patterns and move forward.

    How to Move Forward in your Career

It is my experience that this kind of mental/emotional house cleaning is necessary before you can move forward in life with good decisions and powerful actions. There is something magical about such simple writing exercises.

That is why JobJoy is collaborating with Phrase Strategy to help leaders move forward with their careers. Maria Ford, Phraseologist, refers to writing exercises as pre-marketing, and necessary for the growth and development of leaders. Read her most recent post to learn more about how such “magic” might help you.

How To Get Away With Murder of your inner critic

It’s the start of another year…but are you still haunted by an inner critic from your past? We learn as children to please others who are important to us, such as parents, teachers, peers and coaches. And when we earn their criticism instead of their praise, we often internalize that critical voice for the rest of our lives.

It doesn’t take much—a verbal criticism of something you said or did, a big red fail on a written exam, or a cold shoulder, a sharp rebuke, a stinging reprimand—and you never wrote another poem, or played another game of soccer, or sang another song, or designed another dress, or did whatever gave you joy, made you feel free, or deepened your sense of accomplishment. Because, after that…every time you tried, the inner critic reared its ugly head and crushed you with that ‘voice’ in your brain.

I think we, as individuals, underestimate the influence of others in our young lives. We are, after all, social beings who want to be liked and loved by others. As children, we usually aim at becoming something that will please others long before we take the time to find out who we are.

Many individuals are channeled down a certain career path using ‘can do’ skills based on the advice of these well-meaning influencers. This can create problems later in life, not the least being stuck in a dull or meaningless job that fosters deep dissatisfaction.

Kill the critic

The best way to kill this inner critic is to replace it with your ‘authentic’ voice. Since 1986, research from more than 200 studies shows that creative, expressive and reflective writing about thoughts and feelings in a structured safe space helps individuals gain control over a negative life event. There are many exercises for killing that inner critical voice in order to make room for your own voice. Years ago, I had a lot of fun doing this one:

I found a list of the 1001 ways to kill somebody. I picked one that I felt would suitably avenge my inner pain. Then I wrote a letter to my persecutor describing in detail how I was going execute them. I was shocked at the depth of my anger and pain! These transgressions against our souls, our very beings, create deep wounds…the pen I held was my sword of vengeance!

How to get away with murder

Remember, this is an exercise, a form of creative play in a safe place, so a few words of caution are necessary: put your bloodthirsty letter in an envelope…but don’t mail it…you could end up in jail! Instead, burn it, bury it, cut it to pieces, do whatever feels right…but don’t actually send or give it to the transgressor. Kill that inner critic figuratively not literally–that’s how you get away with murder!

This simple writing exercise liberated me from an inner critic. It helped me trade in that ‘other’ for my own. Since then, I have expressed my voice through this newsletter and blogs, through several books, articles in newspapers and career magazines, through academic journals, as well as through creative writing, my own radio show, and at career conferences. It’s all fun; it gives me to have my voice engaged in meaningful conversations that influence others.

Reclaim your voice

If you feel that your voice has been swallowed up by the values and priorities of someone else in your life, then draw on this scientific method of killing that inner critic. Simple writing exercises combined with an experienced coach will help you think, feel and write your way though rigid beliefs or behaviours that keep you stuck in life or work.

Liberate yourself! JobJoy is collaborating with Phrase Strategy and its Essential Voice programs to help individuals to see reality in a new way and find their voice. Claim your freedom by uncovering YOUR voice! It will enrich and enlarge your life and work…

Real Job Security is knowing your Motivational Pattern

From our childhood to our current career, we tend to gravitate towards activities and projects that require our natural strengths. Why? Simple—we get pleasure from using our talents in situations that motivate us.

The problem is we do some things so naturally and effortlessly, we think, “Doesn’t everybody do it this way?” No, they don’t. You have a knack for achieving certain results using certain talents because that’s what energizes you—and you make it look easy. Other people might be able to do the same thing due to training or experience but it’s grunt work for them.

    What energizes you?

For example, some individuals get energized by having an impact on the physical world. If there is a piece of equipment, or machinery, or a vehicle, or a household appliance that breaks down or is performing poorly, they repair it, or restore it to its original state. You can tell it energizes them because you can hear them humming, or whistling or singing, or just bouncing around happily as they do what comes naturally and easily to them.

If this talent is caught early in life and channeled into a particular vocation then recognized and rewarded by an employer, they might even end up with a long and happy career as an aircraft mechanic with an airline, or a pipe-fitter in a refinery, or a mechanic in the military, or a maintenance worker for public transit, or one of hundreds of jobs available from hundreds of different employers.

Even if they lose one job, they can quickly adapt or retrain for something similar in another sector because equipment, machinery, and vehicles will always wear out, or break down, or need replacing and require individuals who have a knack for impacting such physical objects with their natural talents and learned skills.

The same is true if you like to have an impact on people, or like to control how, when and where a project or plan will proceed. Or, if you are energized by pursuing and reaching a goal or a target. Or, if you get juiced by engaging in a process of discovering, developing or expressing.

    Motivation matches right work

Each general human inclination can be narrowed down to reveal your particular motivational pattern, and that pattern can be matched to dozens of specific jobs in specific work settings.

This is true job security. When you take the time to understand your motivational pattern then you don’t have to worry if you lose a job because you will already know what other sectors of the economy will recognize and reward you for what comes easily to you.

Don’t let our volatile economy catch you by surprise. Get a JobJoy career assessment done today so that you can do some long-term planning for real job security.

You already have in your hands the right tools to repair and grow your career. Put them to work in your favour.

Storytelling is key to career change

Your life story is not fixed but fluid. You are not trapped but, instead, you have access to many opportunities that may be more rewarding and enriching than the one you have now. We make our story because we make our life. We have choices. You can create and live a better story!

Storytelling opens up a space for challenging our current identity, for re-interpreting our life experiences in a way that opens up space for new career options. You can change your career, your job, and your life without losing money or status or health or whatever is near and dear to you. There is evidence to prove it. There is the example of thousands who have done it.

The employment trap

As a career counsellor in private practice for the past 25 years, thousands of individuals have confided in me about their motivations for working. For most of us, it boils down to this: we work because we have to, simple as that, in order to pay our bills and provide for our loved ones.

Until now, most of us have had no real reason to question a way of life that is organized in its most simplistic form around our potential to get a good education, secure a stable job, purchase a house, grow a family, and follow a life script of working and buying as a reward for what we do. This is The American/Canadian Dream—‘work hard, play by the rules, get ahead.’

Except that getting ahead is getting much more difficult (even impossible) for many of us due to various social, economic and technological forces. For some, the link between work and wages amounts to ‘wage slavery’ if the work is dull, dirty or dangerous…while others feel stuck in jobs with ‘golden handcuffs,’ because the wages and benefits are too good to give up no matter how much they dislike the actual work.

Even for those who like their work, we must acknowledge that depression—often caused by work-related stress and burnout—is now the #1 disability in North America, costing billions in productivity losses, billions more in social welfare, while eroding family security.

Adding fuel to that fire, we find wages stagnate while housing costs soar and inequality between the very rich and the rest of us increases dramatically. We lose our job security when companies move their operations to cheaper labour markets. Robots are replacing unionized factory jobs. Automation is replacing white-collar jobs. All this is now business as usual. And we accept this entirely, well … because we have to.

Escape the trap

Really? Do we, as individuals, have to accept this state of affairs as rational and inevitable? Does winning at life mean we must accept this story of work with all its built in assumptions? One of the most effective ways that I know for stepping outside this employment trap is to write out your story and get it analyzed for a pattern of meaning.

You have key success factors and they can be clearly identified and defined so that you can re-package them for a better career and live a better story!

Where are the jobs?

I learn from my clients about what is really happening in the job market. Based on their experiences, here are some significant trends that may help you with your career planning, job searching, or advice for your children.

Job Market: Governments claim unemployment is at record lows. Employers complain of skill shortages and their inability to fill job vacancies. Job seekers complain about finding decent jobs. What is going on?

a. More hiring is happening…if you have a professional or technical skill with work experience. Recruiters and employment agencies are definitely filling positions for employers who want experienced credentialed employees. While recruiters and agencies demand recent employment experience, many employers are more open to employment gaps from candidates—especially women who have taken time off to start or care for family.

b. E-commerce is hiring young adults with technical diplomas. There is not doubt that it is easier to get a job these days if you are a 20-something with a 1-year diploma in Mobile Application Development and Design than if you have a 4-yr Arts degree.

c. STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) careers are definitely on the rise, and so are jobs in all areas of healthcare. However, immigrants with qualifications in these areas still face formidable barriers to employment, but less so in the technology sector.

d. Employers won’t pay for training. One of the reasons that employers claim there is a shortage of skilled labour is because most of them won’t pay for training. It is cheaper to pay skilled workers a higher salary than add the costs of training.

e. Employers with rich market capital—the Googles, Facebooks, Apples of the world—will pay for training because they can afford it. They also have to pay high salaries because their offices are located in large urban centres with high housing costs, which is another reason companies are having trouble attracting skilled labour.

f. Employers are biased. Even young adults with technical skills are having a hard time landing that first career job because employers still prefer experienced workers. Having said that, ageism is alive and well in the labour market. Older workers looking for jobs have to rely less on their work history and more on demonstrating to potential employers how they can add value to their operations.

g. Beware of short term jobs. The employers that complain loudest about lack of skilled labour are often the same ones who are moving to replace labour through AI, automation and robots. It’s important for students to analyze the trends in a sector before investing in a career that can be easily replaced by technology in the near future.

h. Employers will not do what’s necessary to attract and retain young workers. Many GenZ and millennials still live at home and pay few bills, so they often leave a job if they don’t like it (because they can afford to). And they don’t seem to like cubicle cultures in big hierarchical organizations. Many millennials are starting their own companies, often with friends because they prefer smaller companies that have a more “engaging” culture of community and collaboration. Most large employers are not yet willing to make costly investments or structural changes in their practices to retain these workers; therefore, they complain about skill shortages that are due not to a lack of labour supply but a lack of employers willing to change their people management practices.

i. Growth of government siphons off skilled labour. Federal, provincial and municipal governments continue to practice deficit spending and drive up debt in order to expand programs and projects that employ lots of people who might otherwise fill jobs in the private sector. In Ontario alone, the number of public servants increased by 5 times over 10 years under the recent Liberal government. The appeal to workers is obvious—the public sector is one of the last workplaces to offer job security.

j. The gig economy is expanding. More workers in all age groups are developing multiple jobs or streams of income because certain social, technological and economic trends are forcing them to do so. Employers are learning how to embrace and manage contractors. In the war for talent and skills, employers are starting to offer contractors better terms and working conditions.

Internet Fatigue and New Job Opportunities

How big is your digital footprint? You might be surprised. Go to Pipl.com and type in your name and city of residence. It will show you how much of your personal data and photos are readily available to anyone who wants to look.

Our footprint increases exponentially as we engage more and more with the giant engines of virtual reality, including mobile and social media, e-commerce, gaming, online fashion, online education, big data, outsourcing, cloud computing, cyber security, healthcareIT, and the Internet Of Things. Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba, and Microsoft make up 5 of the top 10 companies in the world when ranked by market cap. Them and thousands of other digital companies—such as Uber, Airbnb, Netflix–are disrupting and driving our economy.

Being plugged in 24/7 has pros and cons. On the one hand, these online companies create new jobs and opportunities; on the other, they create online addictions. CBS News reports that famous entrepreneur, Richard Branson, is imposing a digital detox program on all Virgin employees: Branson recognizes that excessive screen time has a negative effect on his employees because it reduces their productivity as it undermines their health and well-being.

One of my clients, Eric, alerted me to the risks of excessive screen time back in 2007 when he admitted to “internet addiction.” He would literally surf the web until he collapsed with exhaustion in front of his computer screen. Eric is not an isolated case, especially as our jobs become more dependent on digital technologies. We are all at risk of “internet fatigue” that undermines our productivity as employees and our relationships with family and friends. Eric’s remedy was an equally extreme antidote—he unplugged from the internet and cycled through 9 different countries over 5 years. You can read his amazing story here.

Social entrepreneurs like Eric are springing up to organize a movement that will help individuals unplug from virtual reality and reconnect with nature and people. They will create digital detox programs for various work and home environments to prevent “internet fatigue,” and develop treatment regimens for online addictions.

I have to admit, I’m discouraged by the recent FaceBook (FB) scandal that shows how quickly and easily my online data can be ‘scraped’ and sold to big business and big government. As an early adopter of internet platforms, I loved how it empowered ordinary people to do things that were previously the exclusive domain of such top down structures of control and power. But, increasingly, our personal power online is being overtaken by digital profiteers like FB.

Predictability is control

The business of FB is data collection from its 2 billion users. FB sells our data to third parties because that is how it makes money. Third parties like Cambridge Analytica mine that data and package it as ‘predictability’ before they sell it to customers. Is it any wonder that big business and big government are buying our data to restore and strengthen their control over what we consume with our minds and money? It might also help to explain why FB & Co. advocate for self-regulation and why governments are reluctant to regulate in the best interests of consumers; one hand feeds the other.

Did you know that Cambridge Analytica and other data miners use computer models that can assess your personality with a startling degree of accuracy from only “10 likes” on FB? From 150 likes it can predict your behavior better than your parents and siblings, while it can do better than your spouse if you give it 300 likes.

When you upload your contacts to FB, the social media giant uses that as a starting point to build a profile on those who don’t have a profile. By collecting photos of unnamed people, or email addresses it knows its users contact, or the results of inane online quizzes, the company can figure out who new people are and who else they know–even if they don’t have a FB account.

Even if you’re not using FB, it is using you. Look at the top of just about any web page and you’ll see a small button allowing you to “like” it on FB; it uses that button to track your online activities even when you aren’t logged into it. FB has tracking software on hundreds of thousands of the world’s top websites. For example, when I search for used items on Kijiji, such as tires, ads for the same then show up on FB’s Marketplace, even though I never mentioned anything about tires in my FB posts.

The trade-off between privacy and convenience is at the heart of social media

You might think all is harmless enough but you don’t need to know how a TV works to understand how TV steals your time and manipulates your buying habits. If you don’t like what TV is doing, you can switch it off. Same with social media. I recently reduced my digital footprint on Pipl.com by simply changing the Privacy settings on my social media accounts.

But, as a result of doing research for this article, I’ve decided to close my personal FB account. It is convenient to see what family and friends and favorite orgs are doing in other cities and countries. However, a self-imposed exile from social media may help me to think more deliberately about bigger issues at stake while exercising my right to privacy.

Now that warmer weather and longer days are upon us, I also want to invest my limited time in offline activities for awhile. I can always open another FB account with another email later if I so desire.

There seems no way to stop the inevitable march towards virtual reality…but the current FB scandal is an excellent reminder that it may be time to slow it down and guard not only our personal privacy but our collective health and human-ness.

Is time running out on job security?

As we come to the end of 2017, it is customary to reflect on the past year and forecast the year ahead. What strikes me are two opposing trends that deserve attention.

1. Totality of work. There is increasing evidence that work today governs our everyday conduct in much the same way that religion guided the lives of medieval people during the middle Ages. From the time we awake until we sleep (and even during sleep) our clock is organized around our work obligations—from rushing kids to day-care, to running errands during work breaks, to buying a fast food family dinner on the commute home, to bringing work home, to checking work emails 24/7, to applying sleep aids that mitigate the effects of anxiety, worry and burnout associated with our waking work lives. In many respects, work is not only at the centre of our culture; it is the totality of life! Work is no longer a means to an end but an end in itself.

2. The replacement of good paying jobs by AI, automation, and robots. We all know that manufacturing has been hit hardest by this tsunami of technological change. But millions of jobs are going to be lost soon in other sectors, including finance, law, medicine, education, as well as blue collar jobs like transport drivers, retail clerks, warehouse workers, crop pickers, cleaning staff, and so on. The government mantra for economic growth “Jobs! jobs! jobs!” is moving quickly beyond their ability to deliver job stability for the majority of citizens. In the meantime, the gap between the ultra rich and the rest of us grows ever wider.

These two trends go to the heart of who we are as individuals and as a society. Since the Industrial Revolution, our sense of self-worth comes primarily from our jobs. In short, we are socially worthless without a job. We are what we do; you are your job. It is the link between work and wages that defines us. In this cultural context, net-worth becomes the key determinant of self-worth. We conform and submit our lives to this social norm as the ‘right’ way to live in order to achieve home ownership through job stability and financial security.

Prediction

What I see happening over the next year or so is a broader public conversation about the future of work. Some of you have heard of Universal Basic Income trials backed by some governments and high tech entrepreneurs. This is just one example of people re-conceptualizing the link between work and wages. The notion that “any work is good work” now seems out-moded.

In 2018, I predict we will see increasing pressure on leaders to alter their habits of mind and think beyond “a job for life” as the purpose of existence. This will create a lot of tension, even conflict, in society because the totality of work is so embedded in our way of doing things that the prospect of change will be frightening for many and challenging for all.

If we want our leaders to boldly imagine an alternative future, then we need to prepare ourselves to do the same. Here at JobJoy, we are in the change business. Everyday we help individuals change their jobs or careers.

Change is inevitable! All the more reason to enjoy periods of stability, peace and comfort as they occur. I hope your holiday season is full of them and may good health and prosperity fill you throughout the coming year!

It’s what’s on the inside that counts with motivation

Do you get this feeling?…It’s a beautiful day and I know I should go for a walk in order to stay fit…but I don’t really want to.

I don’t know about you but staying fit is just not enough motivation to get me out for a walk. However, I am looking forward to playing basketball tomorrow—I do it because it’s fun and not because I want to stay fit.

Do you get the same feeling when it comes to your job? It’s another weekday and you know you should get out of bed to make some money and pay your bills…but you don’t really want to. Paying your bills is just not enough motivation to get you going.

You’re not alone. Up to 70% of us report feeling dis-engaged from our jobs, work, or employers. And one of the reasons that we feel that way is because our jobs do not motivate us intrinsically, that is inside us as opposed to working only for extrinsic rewards (like money).

Intrinsic Motivation

Research clearly shows that you’re more likely to enjoy job satisfaction if you focus on the work itself, and less likely to enjoy it if you’re focused on money. This finding holds true even at low salary levels. This means that employees who are intrinsically motivated are three times more engaged than employees who are extrinsically motivated (such as by money).

Intrinsic motivation is not only a better indicator of job satisfaction but also job performance. The more people focus on their salaries, the less they focus on satisfying their intellectual curiosity, learning new skills, or having fun, and those are the very things that make people perform best.

However, it is difficult to cultivate higher job satisfaction and better job performance if we don’t know our motivational pattern. I have written elsewhere about the key success factors that make up our motivational pattern. I call them rocket launchers. When are natural talents, inclinations and skills align with the tasks we’re given at work, then are job satisfaction and performance work together to produce amazing results!

Motivational Pattern

Each of us can learn what launches us into a state of flow that integrates with certain tasks at work. When we are clear about the positive intrinsic aspects of such work, the research shows that we enjoy our work more than if we are just focused on the extrinsic rewards of performing such tasks. What is it we most enjoy doing and do best when it comes to our work? My JobJoy Report is an evidence-based approach to giving individuals the answer to this question with clarity and confidence. If we can’t answer this question, we default to focusing on extrinsic rewards.

While studies show consistently that most people are, in fact, more intrinsically motivated, they still tend to choose a raise over more meaningful work. They might want more interesting work but feel they can’t get it from their current job, or career, or employer, so they go for the money. As negative work experiences pile up, individuals tune out, settle for a paycheck and report feeling dis-engaged from their work.

Now, a sceptic might say that such reseach simply reflects an innate mindset — some people happen to be more focused on extrinsic rewards, while others are more focused on the task itself. That’s certainly possible because it’s hard to test for such a distinction. Similarly, a cynic might say that people who focus too much on money are preventing themselves from enjoying their jobs. That’s possible too…we don’t know for sure.

What we do know is that there is little evidence to show that money motivates us, and a great deal of evidence to suggest that it actually demotivates us. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we should work for free. We all need to pay our bills and provide for our families — but once these basic needs are covered the psychological benefits of money are questionable.

Working only for wages

The meaning of money is largely subjective. For example, there are marked individual differences in people’s tendency to think or worry about money, and different people value money for different reasons (e.g., as a means to power, freedom, security, or love). Our relationship to money is highly idiosyncratic.

Some research shows that employees’ personalities are much better predictors of engagement than their salaries. The more emotionally stable, extraverted, agreeable or conscientious people are, the more they tend to like their jobs (irrespective of their salaries). But, an even more important determinant of an employee’s engagement at work is the personality of their boss. In fact, the biggest organizational cause of disengagement is incompetent leadership.

How we relate to others, especially our superiors, is a part of our motivational pattern. When we know what motivates us intrinsically, when we can communicate to our bosses and others how we work best, then we have a better chance of achieving job satisfaction.

If you are feeling dis-engaged from work…if you want work that taps in to your motivational pattern…if you want to make a social impact…if you want your personal goals/values to align with your work…if you want a sense of personal accomplishment…then let’s discuss how you can get engaged with your job quickly and easily.