29 Jan

A difference in values: a sign to change your job

What are your accidental values? The behavioural traits that you spontaneously exhibit on a day-to-day basis (read more about values here). The traits you show when you are not consciously thinking about your behaviour.

Accidental values don’t belong to just individuals, they are also exhibited by an organisation on a daily basis. How people communicate with each other, how they engage with their customers, what gets attention within the organisation and what gets celebrated.  Another term for this would be the company’s culture. How people conduct themselves within the working environment and how they engage with each other are  behavioural traits which stem directly from the company’s value system. The company’s accidental values that is, not their stated values.

If a company’s stated core values are not ingrained in the working environment and day to day behaviour, if the majority of people within the business are not walking the talk, then this is were you might find yourself wanting to shift jobs and even careers. There may be a clash in values.

Before confirming that difference of values and beliefs are a reason for your need to shift jobs, ask yourself the following.

  1. What are my core values? Am I aware of them and do I try to live them everyday?
  2. What are my accidental values? This one may be quite tricky as there is a fair bit of self-reflection and honesty required. You may even ask a trusted colleague for their honest feedback and input.
  3. What are the company’s core values? How do these compare against the daily accidental values? In other words, are these core values applied everyday?
    1. Who and what gets attention and why?
    2. What is the customer feedback saying?
    3. What gets discussed at the water cooler by the staff?
  4. How different are my values, core and accidental, from the company’s values?

You may have discovered that when reviewing the behaviour level in last week’s post  that you were faced with similar questions and thoughts.

If this exercise confirms a need to change, what action plan do you need to implement and  how would you prevent this from happening again in your next position?

25 Jan

Strengths first, skills second

When last did you check that the skills you possess are the skills you are utilising in your current job? Or, are you winging your way through your daily tasks with a very basic skill set and wondering why you are getting frustrated everyday? Are these frustrations causing you to hate your job and prompting you to look elsewhere for employment?

Over the past 2 weeks we have looked at Gregory Bateson’s Logical Levels of Change with regards to job or career change. We have so far discussed the environmental and behaviour levels. This week we focus on the Skills and Capabilities level.

Let’s do an exercise:

  1. Write down your top three strengths and passions. For example. “I am very good at organising events and co-ordinating people. I am an excellent communicator and I really enjoy motivating people” etc. Remember these strengths are not necessarily what you are currently utilising in your position, but what you are good at and passionate about doing.
  2. Are you utilising these strengths in your current position?
  3. If not, why not? And do you want to?
  4. If you are not utilising these strengths, then what do you need to do or change in order to start utilising them in your job? What skills would you need to acquire?
  5. If you are utilising these strengths, do you believe they could be enhanced even more? What additional skills could you master to carry this out?

We often find that when we are utilising our strengths in our day to day work tasks we find the work more engaging and enjoyable. We are more focused, less distracted and more highly motivated to continue with the job at hand. By default we become passionate employees.

So instead of just thinking about your current skills and/or skills you need to acquire in order to get the job done, first think about and define your strengths and your passions. This can assist with re-focusing you within your current position or directing you to the right job and career. Once these are defined then the necessary skills can be learned.

We can all become more skilful in what we do, but if we aren’t passionate about it and building up our strengths then I believe we are doing ourselves an injustice.

Next week we will discuss values and beliefs.

17 Jan

Is your professional behaviour working for or against you?

Thinking of changing your job or career? This can be a major step in your life and the decision to change should not be taken likely. Understanding why you need the change is probably the most important thing to pin down and once confirmed will assist you in choosing the right path. In last week’s post we explored environmental reasons as possible motivators for change. In this post we will look specifically at behaviour.

The behaviour level in Gregory Bateson’s Logical Levels of Change is an interesting one as you can evaluate behaviour in two different ways. Firstly, how you behave within your current work environment. Are you considering a change because your behaviour changes for the worst within your current environment. Secondly, how you observe and react to other people’s behaviour in that particular environment. One could align day-to-day work behaviour with the invisible side of an organisation – its corporate culture.

Let’s firstly examine your behaviour being a reason for change.

Does your current working environment cause you to behave differently? This can be a tricky question as the majority of the time, we like to think that we are stable individuals whose behaviour is consistent between our work and private lives. In some cases this is true, but in others there can be a vast difference.

If you believe your behaviour does change for the worse within your working environment, then is it your actual job and areas of responsibility or is it how you react to the job that requires a change?

Let’s say for example you struggle to manage your stress levels. So when you become stressed out your behaviour changes and you become moody, short tempered and aggressive. The problem could then lie in your ability to manage your stress levels, not necessarily the job.

If you did change your job or career, would that change guarantee a less stressful environment? Probably not, because how you manage your stress levels is not necessarily related to the job or task at hand, but simply how skilled or unskilled you are in managing stress or any other negative behaviour that might arise.

Would it not serve you better to work on your behaviour challenges in your current position than end up relocating your problems to a new environment? Is it the job or is it you?

When analysing your own behaviour take the following into consideration.

  1. How you tend to react in work situations. What is your behaviour pattern at work? Why are you behaving this way?
  2. What is your typical behaviour? On reflection, is that the type of behaviour you wanted to portray?
  3. Is your behaviour different to how you  would normally behave outside of the working environment?
  4. Does your behaviour make you happy, does your behaviour make you proud?

The second part of this evaluation is more challenging as it is an area that you cannot always control and that is other people’s behaviour. Trying to work within a business where other people’s behaviour constantly makes you feel uncomfortable can be incredibly daunting and exhausting.

Consider the following:

  1. If you verbalised your unhappiness, would your behaviour change for the better? In other words, is the behaviour isolated to one or two individuals and thus not a company culture issue.
  2. Are you in a position where you can influence a change in behaviour?
  3. Are you able to overlook your colleague’s behaviour because you enjoy your job?
  4. Do you believe that how people behave and conduct themselves is key to how you perform your duties and tasks?

If you believe your issues are behavioural, what is your action plan to remedy them? What is your change plan?

If you believe that the reason for your career or job change is not behaviour-related, then look out for next week’s blog post where Skills and Capabilities will be discussed.

08 Jan

Is your environment causing you to re-think your career?

A new year often brings ideas of career or job change. The idea might have been mulling around in your head for a few months, or you might have just been sparked by the new beginnings and potential of the year ahead.  Whatever the reason, it would be wise to explore why these ideas of change are surfacing and then whether or not to enact these changes or else confirm that the idea was just a fleeting thought and you are committed to sticking with the status quo. Allowing closure to take place helps you move on.

However when there is no closure and there is a desire to change, it is important to understand why. As the answer to this question, “Why do you want a career or job change?” should be very clear to you before you embark on a whole new chapter in your life. Making changes for the right reason and being honest with yourself will eliminate future frustrations and regret.

In this article I will be focusing on the question, “Why do you want a career or job change?”    and applying it to the first level of Gregory Bateson’s model of the Logical Levels of Change, Environment.

When you first contemplate a career or job change, it is very natural to initially look outside of oneself and blame someone or something “out there” in the immediate environment for the reason as to why you want to change.

Take a look at the following questions and try and answer them as honestly as you can. This exercise is aimed to clarify if your environment is or is not the main reason for your need for change.

  1.  What are your biggest frustration about your working environment? These would be the things you allow to dominate your thoughts on a regular basis. Focus especially on environmental areas such as your physical working space, equipment, resources, offices day-to-day general policies and procedures, fellow colleagues, etc.Then ask yourself why? You need to be specific as to why you feel this way.For example. Do you hear yourself saying the following?
    • “If I had some proper peace and quiet at work with fewer interruptions…
    • If I had more available resources on this current project…”
    • “I wish I was able to work flexible hours…”
  2. If you had to eliminate any of these frustrations, how would you feel about the actual work you do and your current area of responsibilities?
  3. If you couldn’t eliminate any of these frustrations, how would you feel about your work?
  4. Can you separate your environment from your job? This may initially be a simple question, but it is suggested that you take a moment to think about it and consider how much they influence each other. Do you go to work for the job or the working environment? If you agree with the latter, how would you see your job  if your environment radically changed?
  5. If you believe your issues are environmental, what is your action plan to improve it? What is your change plan?

If the reason for your career or job change is not located in your immediate environment, then look out for next week’s blog post on behaviour.