Monday, October 08, 2007

Career Lattice

There are a lot of people who long to love their work. They wish that they had the passion seen in those people who are living their life's calling. We spend so much time at our jobs that it is a tragedy to just going through the motions. Everyone deserves more than just "blah" in their career.

I know, I have been there. I have had jobs that I have loved, and jobs that I have hated, and worse yet is being stuck somewhere in between. The real curse is to have had a job that you loved, and then for whatever reason, to not have that in your life anymore. Once you have had that powerful spark for your vocation, nothing short of that will be satisfying again.

I once worked for a company for two years where I never felt that I fit in. It was a great company with very professional people, but I never believed I was part of the team. The funny thing was I never hung my pictures on the wall. At my current company I put the art up on the second day. It just felt like home from the moment I arrived.

Our society has long looked down on people who change jobs "too often", but I have never understood why someone should stay in miserable situation just because of what others might say. Should someone skip a great opportunity because of how it might look? If you are not in the right place, move on.

Today's twenty-somethings realize this, as Generation Y will not put up with sour workplaces and lack-luster corporate environments. Much is written (by Baby Boomers) calling these young professionals "self-absorbed", "lazy" and "spoiled", but the reality is that these kids want to have meaning in their lives, and they are not willing to settle for less. They are "seekers" looking for that spark that will fulfill them inside their soul. Never settle!

There are some who counsel to put your energy into the bad job and find your enjoyment elsewhere. But human beings are not built to compartmentalize, like it or not we are a whole package. When we try to stuff our emotions, feelings, and true beliefs into a corner, we tend to get out of balance. This leads to more problems. You have to be true to yourself.

An entrepreneur with 100 employees in her company recently told me that the future for employers is to discover and embrace the passions of those who work for you and then help them achieve their life's dreams. Sure, these aspirations might take them away from your company in a few years, but in the meantime you will have very dedicated and inspired personnel who will work hard to see your company thrive and succeed.

Two Deloitte executives, Cathy Benko and Anne Weisberg, have released a book called, "MASS CAREER CUSTOMIZATION: Aligning the Workplace with Today's Nontraditional Workforce" (Harvard Business School Press) that is dealing with these new realities of careers. I have not read this book, but like the premise that people are no longer on a career ladder, but rather on a career lattice. This concept accepts that people will move up, down, across and diagonally as they progress through their life and career. They will enter and leave organizations and companies will actively participate in the conversations of individuals career aspirations.

The interesting thing about a career lattice vs a career ladder is that there are lots of ways to reach the top, and plenty of room a the top. The ladder is limiting for everyone.

Don't forget, your network is your ticket to career success. The people whom know you best are the ones who can help you identify and vet out opportunities. Do not climb your lattice alone, as there are lots of people who are pulling for you to reach the top.

Have A Great Day.


1 comment:

Tom Magness said...

Thanks Thom. As an employer of plenty of Gen-Yers, I too believe that it is my purpose to enable their success...wherever that might take them. But if I am successful, that we can create a place where they are inspired, where they have fun, where they can see a future for them as they move within the "lattice," then I hope they will stay, and find their success with us.

But hope is not a method (as a great Army General once said)! It takes work. That's the fun part...what I call Leader Business. Thanks Thom.