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.

Storytelling is key to career change

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. If you doubt it, subscribe to Undone free weekly online mag to track these trends & issues.

All this is now business as usual. And we accept this entirely, well…because we have to.

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 analysed for a pattern of meaning.

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.

In short, your 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!

If jobs disappear, you can be paid for what you love to do!

If you could be paid for work that you love to do but is now unpaid…would you take it?

Home childcare, or writing a movie script, or inventing gadgets in your backyard, or building a single engine airplane in your garage, or making music, or volunteering overseas for a preferred humanitarian cause, or getting active in a local environmental one, or designing beautiful gardens, or beekeeping, or taking better care of aging family members, or taking all the time you need to develop one of your brilliant ideas into a business–these are just a few ‘passions’ that some of my clients have identified over the years but could not pursue because of economic insecurity.

Universal Basic Income

However, the day may be coming very soon when work previously un-paid will be covered by a UBI, or a universal basic income. Why? Because the industrial economy of mass production based on human labour is coming to an end. And it will change many of the assumptions and practices that we now take for granted.

For example, we have to work to live—this is the simple truth known as the work ethic and is deeply rooted in our culture for the last 2000 years, maybe longer. For most of us, it is reality. And the idea that we have to work becomes synonymous with a job. It’s the main reason many of us stay in jobs or organizations that we hate…because we have to make a living and pay our mortgages and provide for our loved ones. Work is often a trade-off between what we’d like to do and what we have to do to pay the bills. It’s a fact of life that few question. As a result, the work ethic has been at the center of who we are as individuals and as a society. In short, we are defined by our jobs.

But business billionaires Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Sam Altman and others predict that automation, robotics and artificial intelligence will eliminate the need for most jobs within 20 years. Most people will no longer need to work in order to live. Our basic needs for housing, food, clothing, transportation will be covered by technology and, perhaps, a universal basic income (UBI).

What a radical idea! If jobs disappear and are not replaced by new kinds of jobs…well, what will people do? Or, who will they be? It really depends on how you define ‘work’. Some of the most important work in the world is unpaid labour, such as child rearing. Some of the least important work in the world is the highest paid.

What if bankers disappeared?

For example, a study was done on a bankers’ strike in Ireland that lasted 6 months in 1970. Predictions were that the Irish economy would collapse with dire consequences for the man in the street. Instead, the economy actually grew during those six months because ordinary people forged a decentralized monetary system with the country’s pubs as the key nodes for clearing checks and finding cash.

The ‘crisis’ demonstrated how much our economy runs on trust not treasure. And there have been few strikes by financiers since. However, garbage collectors in New York City went on strike about the same time and a state of emergency was declared after six days and the strike settled three days later.

Bankers and garbage collectors both perform valuable roles in society but who really is more essential to society’s long-term health and well-being? When our economic system puts profits before people, then the highest paid individuals are often those doing the least important ‘work’…because they have the gold, they make the rules.

Technology is now changing the rules of the game in some fundamental ways. For example, working for a living has always involved producing something in return for wages. But what happens when ‘things’ can be produced by robots and other forms of artificial intelligence?

The answer to this question is behind UBI, a proposal for changing the very structure of society as we now know it. The idea is that the wealth created by robots and computers will be shared more equitably with all citizens…rather than accrue in the bank accounts of fewer and fewer people at the top of the income scale.

I believe this is a significant idea with serious implications not only for those of us working today but especially for our children. As difficult as it might be to think that our current economic model could change so drastically, any responsible parent will want to stay on top of these developments in order to secure a promising future for their children.

UBI is not a done deal. There are pros & cons, as well as other options, such as 15 hour work weeks, open borders, and more. If you want to learn more about these issues and trends, subscribe to my free UnDone online mag.

Or, at the very least, start thinking about what you might do with your time. My JobJoy Reports have helped hundreds of individuals clearly identify their motivational pattern and where they might apply it in terms of meaningful work so that they live to do work that energizes rather than drains them.

Hiring for your past success or future potential—what does your next employer want?

All employers have a hiring agenda. They want individuals who can help them reach their corporate goals by overcoming the problems, challenges, pressures and issues that get in the way.

Future potential

Context or ‘culture’ is very important in hiring decisions. For example, the newspaper industry has collapsed and thrown thousands of journalists out of work as advertisers shift to online platforms…but many social media companies don’t hire newspaper journalists because they want people with a different mindset, or employees not conditioned by ‘old’ forms of publishing. These employers often start with young people who have basic technical skills and hire for future potential.

Such employers often profile their top 3-5 employees to identify their success factors, and then formulate interview questions to uncover those attributes because they are looking for certain traits, capabilities or values that match the culture of the company. This is especially true for the ‘disruptors’ that are creating new markets, such as Apple or Google, or companies eating into the market share of traditional sectors, the way Netflix is challenging broadasters or Amazon is replacing retailers.

Many of these ‘new’ economy employers focus on the role of their interviewers to ask questions that will uncover future potential to operate in emerging or creative industries requiring a higher level of cognitive tasks. They often use a rating system when interviewing candidates about their interests, values, and outside activities, more than their previous job experiences. They are often looking for signs of adaptability, flexibility and creativity because these jobs require individuals who can be trained to the shifting context they will be working in.

Past success

Most traditional employers use a behavioural-based methodology when interviewing candidates. This approach is based on the idea that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior in similar circumstances, e.g. “tell me about a time when you had to….” These employers identify what competencies and behaviors are important in a job and then ask questions to see if the candidate has behaved in the desired way in the past.

This is especially true for roles that use metrics as measures of success–the kinds of problem, service, and incident management tasks that make up so many IT, customer service, social work, health, public administration jobs, including sales reps, tech troubleshooters, call center agents, case workers, nurses, border agents, or airline pilots. Often these tasks are routine, methodical, sometimes manual, and sometimes administrative. Employers of this type might give tests, call previous employers, and conduct behavioral-based interviews to get a clear picture of past behaviors beyond what candidates present on a resume. These employers focus on the role of the candidate in the interview.

What to do

When preparing the interviews, it is important to research the culture of a potential employer, to find out their approach to interviewing. Will they focus on past success or future potential?

It is also important for you as a candidate to communicate with clarity and confidence. This means you need to know the right questions to ask a potential employer in order to uncover their hiring agenda. You need to answer their questions with compelling stories that demonstrate specific ways that you can add value to their operations, whether they are looking for concrete examples from past experience or trying to uncover certain attributes.

Having the right strategy and tactics in place before an interview can help you win a job offer in a very competitive job market. Jobjoy provides a range of services to mine your story for the best material to present to potential employers.

If you are trying to make a career or job change, it is important to prepare for interviews accordingly.

How to quickly switch sectors or industries

By choice, chance or job loss, many individuals move from one sector to another (e.g. public sector to non-profit), or from one industry to another, (e.g. construction to accounting).  Here are 5 ways to make your switch easier and faster:

1. Identify your target sector and some key organizations that represent the largest or best employers in that sector…then start talking to people in that sector and/or companies.  Find out as much as you can about the main levers that push and pull that sector through our economy.  Why does it exist? What do the key players do in it?  What are the main business models that allow them to operate successfully?  What are the key trends and issues in that sector?  Ask for advice, tips and tricks on breaking into your targeted sector.

2. Align your accomplishments, strengths and preferences with what you learn about that sector.   Think strategically about how to leverage your skills into that sector—which skills are transferrable?  Don’t forget about soft skills — like leadership, communication, and teamwork.  Then ask yourself the following question:  What do I want in this sector AND why?  Transition is not easy so you need to be motivated and determined to make the change to another sector.

3.  Step back from your emotions and look at your situation objectively.  In my experience, this is where individuals need the most help because they don’t feel confident about their chances—they focus on their inadequacies and fear of rejection, instead of focusing on transition as a project, like any other project that can be completed given the right strategies and tactics.  For example,  given your age, education, and experience, what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to achieving this goal in a reasonable timeframe?   What time, money, and energy from you is required to make the shift? For example, are you missing any hard skills or credentials for that sector?  If so, plan to acquire them through further education and budget the necessary time, energy and money for re-training.  Remember, you’ve already got lots of experience so find economical ways of building on what you already know and do.  Start with a few quick steps—what can you do now in the next 2 weeks to move this project forward?

4. Use your ‘goodwill’ network.  Most of the people you already know will not work in the sector that you are targeting.  But your current contacts—the people who like, trust, and respect you—are likely to have surprising connections across industries and will be more than happy to help you in your job search.  Make it easy for them to do so:  “Here’s the sector I’m targeting, here’s some leading organizations in that sector that I’d like to work for, and here are some job titles in that sector that seem to best match my combination of previous work experience and training.  Now, do you know anyone I can talk to?” Use professional social networks online, like LinkedIn to identify mutual connections and ask for warm introductions to the people who matter. Do the same offline by looking for venues where these kind of fish swim, such as local chapters of professional associations, and attend some meetings with the goal of asking Qs like those listed above in #1.

5. Communicate to others in a clear, concise and coherent manner.  Ask questions first, listen to answers, then be prepared to discuss how your background lends itself to success in your chosen sector.  Highlight previous achievements that give a picture of you in action solving challenges or issues relevant to this sector, so that others can see how your knowledge and skills are transferable to the needs and priorities in their organization.  This is how you build rapport with people, how you get introductions to hiring managers, and how to generate invitations to interview and, eventually, job offers! 

It’s not about you selling yourself…it’s about you tapping into the needs and priorities of decision-makers in your targeted sectors.

Individuals change sectors or industries all the time, so there’s no reason that you can’t do so too. 

Career Change Advice for Talented Women with predictable, boring, mundane jobs

Taba Cookey is an extremely talented woman who had immigrated to Canada from Nigeria to go to work in high level finance. She had earned her first degree in England and had got  a Masters degree in Canada some years later before returning to Nigeria to continue her banking career.

She said that while she was in Ottawa looking to move from her job in financial sector research, she thought she should “take advantage of the kind of career consulting (that I offer) that doesn’t exist in Nigeria,” and explore her options for career change.
I had Taba write “her story”–eight examples of experiences that had been very satisfying for her throughout her life. They didn’t have to be job related.

What came up again and again is that she thrives with new competitive challenges that force her to stretch herself beyond anything she had ever done before. She also needs those challenges defined with deadlines and guidelines for measuring success. For example, she was usually one of the best student in her schools and was the only student in her graduate school class to complete her master’s thesis in time to graduate on schedule.

When she moved from Nigeria to London at age 9, she quickly established herself as one of the star sprinters in her elementary school. Before long, having run out of female competition, talk in the playground was that she should take on the fastest boy runner in the school.

“Finally, a date and hour was set. It was close…but there was no doubt about the result: I won, and that was the end of John’s bragging about how fast he was,” Taba said.

At some point during this career audit, she accepted an offer as Standards and Insurance Manager for a Canadian government agency that was charged with protecting consumers’ deposits in event of the failure of federally regulated banks and trust companies. She didn’t understand why at the time, but found herself so bored and frustrated with her job.

We figured out that even though her position at the government regulatory agency might be the perfect job for someone else, it was “just pushing papers” for her. Many jobs, including the one she was in at the agency, organized to be predictable and mundane and often become simple and boring for talented people like Taba.

Using “her story,” we determined:

* The work environment she would thrive in.

* The type of work she would thrive in.

* The way she likes to be managed.

* The way she likes to be rewarded.

* What motivates her.

* And how she likes to approach tasks.

“My work with George made me realize this sort of work was thoroughly unsuited to me” says Taba.

She began to seriously consider returning to Nigeria and we talked about the need for African ex-patriates to return home and use their knowledge and expertise in developing Africa.  She decided to go back to Nigeria without any prospects for a job. I told her that she had lots of talents and people would recognize and reward her for that.

I think that one of the reasons ex-patriates don’t go back to their home countries after being educated abroad is because they’re worried they won’t get challenging jobs. I knew it wouldn’t be a problem for Taba because she has talents that transfer across borders. It was just a question of packaging her talents to be recognized and rewarded in different cultural contexts.

So we had to put her talents into a resume to show what this person could do for an employer anywhere–a dramatic example of how her talents transfer across cultures and borders.

She sent me an email saying, “An amazing opportunity opened up in Ghana. I am a Program Manager with the African Finance Corporation (http://www.africafc.org), based in Accra, responsible for overseeing all IFC leasing development programs in Africa. IFC is the private sector arm of the World Bank, promoting development through loans, equity and technical assistance to the private sector.”

A lot of businesses in Africa have difficulty in accessing traditional bank financing, and leasing provides an attractive alternative to such companies. The program aims to promote the role of leasing through training, public awareness, attracting new investment into the industry and working with the authorities in specific African countries to improve the legislative and regulatory environment for leasing.

This job is challenging for her because it is so varied and really stretches her capabilities. Also, she travels all over Africa and has to deal with different personalities in differing cultures. She needs to be in circumstances that stretch her, like beating the fastest boy in school.

“The other day I went through the life stories I had written and the analysis you had done four years ago now, and was amazed at the way it has all come together in my present job,” said Taba. “It is really quite uncanny. But then again perhaps not, since you had so accurately identified the kind of work and environment that would give me ‘jobjoy’ and I have finally found it. It is not surprising that I can now say without hesitation that I have never enjoyed work so much, and…yes, feel fortunate that I am actually getting paid for it. I come to work every day with a sense of anticipation, and hardly know where the time has gone at the end of the day. I actually have to tear myself away! This is such a change from so much of my previous life spent clock watching and day dreaming at work.”

When we get into a jobfit, other parts of our lives often fall into place.  After a few years in this job, Taba returned to Nigeria in 2008 .  “It is great to be back home, I think age is finally taming my itchy feet!”  She was recently married, and took a new position with the Nigerian Stock Exchange.  Congratulations, Taba, in  putting down roots!

–with Nick Isenberg

Imagine working for a great boss every time!

Today is National Boss Day. 3 out of 4 employees report that their boss is the most stressful part of their job! More employees would prefer a new boss over a pay rise when it comes to improving their satisfaction at work. Ouch!

If you have a great boss, show your appreciation. Good or bad, bosses are a fact of life, and have been since ancient economies established master-slave relationships—the Pyramids were not built with collective agreements!

While workplaces today are (perhaps?) a little more humane, most of us have to navigate the power dynamics that go with any employer-employee relationship.

Some individuals are very flexible and can adapt to the operating style any boss. The rest of us actually have a preference for being managed. In fact, certain management styles bring out the best in us.

Operating Style of your boss can lead to conflict

I’m not talking about personalities here—whether your boss is warm, cold, two-faced, compassionate, analytical, judgmental, whatever. I’m referring to their operating style and the way that you, as an employee, best relate to authority.

For example, some employees need a hands-off relationship with a boss who allows them to exercise independent control over their specific area of responsibility. If they end up with a boss with a ‘directorial’ style—one who wants them to operate and perform in the manner the boss identifies as correct, appropriate, or most effective—then conflict is inevitable.

Without a clear understanding of this dynamic, we can get ourselves into a lot of hot water with bosses. As a career expert for the past 20 years, I have seen employer-employee conflicts played out in all kinds of scenarios…many of which could’ve been avoided or minimized if the individual—whether they were a boss or subordinate—had clarity about their preferred management style.

How do you prefer to be managed?

Most of us have never been taught or shown how to interview a potential boss for their preferred operating style, or how to negotiate with a boss in order to help them manage us in a way that brings out the best in us.

For example, if you function most effectively under a manager who provides you with initial support and direction at the outset of a new assignment of responsibility, then leaves you pretty much alone to carry it out…you probably need to learn how to tactfully help them do so.

But, if you get stuck with a micro-manager, you’ll have to grin and bear it, wait them out (the average tenure of a middle level manager is 2.5 years), or find another job–because this is a clash of styles that cannot be resolved through negotiation.

Many clients have described to me “a great boss” who provides intermittent support and direction at key points in a task, assignment, or responsibility. For them, the right manager offers assistance in making critical decisions. These individuals work best when they can count on their boss to have their back when unforeseen difficulties arise.

Others actually work most effectively with a micro-manager, a boss who provides continuous support throughout—touching base frequently and offering direction and advice when needed. But, if they end of up with a boss with a leader style, who prefers to paint the big picture and inspire others to follow him/her (or their program, cause, or mission) and leave the details to others, then they might dismiss this manager as inept or ‘political.’

Collaborate means to co-labor

In some cases, I have met clients who remember a single ‘great boss’ experience, followed by a series of bad bosses. A deeper analysis of their motivating situations reveals that they function most effectively under a manager who treats them as an equal, who works with them as though you were involved in a joint effort. In order to thrive at work, these individuals need an open-minded manager who has a genuine interest in their ideas and suggestions, as well as one who offers suggestions and advice when they ask for it or need it. When they don’t get it, they blame the boss.

Some even quit their jobs and go solo, only to discover they hate working on their own and need the dynamic of a workplace to bring out the best in them but they don’t know what that is until we do a deep analysis of their enjoyable experiences at work and outside of work. Then we discover they thrive in situations where they collaborated with others towards a goal.

Collaborate comes from ‘co-labour,’ or working together, and this kind of dynamic between employer and employee does not occur often, although when it does occur, interestingly enough, it tends to be a female boss who prefers to interact with subordinates in a participatory rather than authoritative fashion, preferring not to rely on administrative policies but on keeping others involved and keeping the momentum going.

There are bad bosses and good bosses in the world of work. But each of us can learn to better manage our relationships with authority by understanding what operating style used by a boss brings out the best in us. Then we can help create that at work or, at the very least, look for a manager who prefers to work with our preferred style.

Five Critical Ingredients For Successful Job Change

Current social and economic trends are forcing an increasing number of workers into job changes.

Many professional jobs, for example, that involve tasks that can be routinized or automated–including IT as well as accounting, even law–are being outsourced to firms in Asia, especially India and China, but also Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines. In North America, the number one workplace disability is depression and related mental/mood disorders, which forces many workers to voluntary seek a job change to protect their well-being.

Job change is the new workplace reality. Whether its voluntary or involuntary, most of us will have to learn to make effective job changes quickly in order to protect and promote our careers.

I’ve noticed in my own field of career management, I am increasingly learning new online technologies to increase my ability to provide high concept, high touch services to my clients. Providing personalized, customized reports on job matches for my clients is not something that can be easily routinized or automated.

Recent careers research, based on results employing 7725 participants and 62 career intervention studies (Brown, Ryan & Krane 2000), concluded that FIVE CRITICAL TREATMENT INGREDIENTS improve the effectiveness of career choice outcomes and decision-making.

1. Workbooks and written exercises. A JobJoy client usually writes out 8 stories about times in their life when they are doing what they enjoy most and do well, preferably stories about events/activities outside of work! This short 3 min video explains how, as does this short blog entry.

2. Individualized interpretations and feedback. Individualized feedback on test results, goals, future plans, etc. regardless of intervention format. I provide my clients with a personalized, customized JobJoy Report, a complete, accurate and reliable picture of their motivational pattern.

3. World of work information. My JobJoy Report matches a client’s motivational pattern to specific jobs in specific work settings. They are also given a strategy to move from where they are now into a better jobfit. I also use written materials that require clients to do their due diligence on job change, to write their goals, future plans, occupational analyses, etc.

4. Modeling. I insist that anyone can make a successful job change and earn more with better work-life balance. Yes, a job change is challenging…that is why I put a lot of emphasis on helping my clients conenct to other clients who have made successful job changes.

5. Attention to building support. This e-jobjoy newsletter is just one way that I provide ongoing support to clients but I try to help each client develop activities that will build support for their career choices or plans.

I use these five critical ingredients because they are proven tools and techniques for successful job change. Clients deserve not just any ol’ tool but proven effective tools. I take my responsibility, seriously, to facilitate proven methods that will match their strengths and motivations to specific jobs, in order to help them earn more and live a better story.