Derek Bishop


An engaging career?

Date added: 06th Aug 2014
Category: Employee Engagement

What did you want to be when you grew up?  Chances are that for many of us the career that we chose when we were young is not the career that we are in now.  And even for significant numbers of us the career which we started out in when we left school is far from our current daily toil.  The rise of portfolio careers, the portability of skills, even the expectation that jobs are no longer for life has resulted in a flexible and fluid working population which would have been unheard of in past times.

Even some ‘traditional’ careers which are still generally viewed as lifetime choices are not immune. Careers such as teaching, healthcare and the legal profession are now seen more as paths to or from other jobs rather than an end in their own right.  In fact, according to a recent survey by Kalaxia Pro, those within the legal profession are particularly vulnerable when it comes to career movement.  The survey revealed that 54% of those working in the legal profession thought that their career choice was a mistake with 37% looking to change profession.

Overall, the survey revealed that 49% of UK workers were looking to change jobs with 28% looking to change careers completely.  As if that wasn’t worrying enough, 24% of workers described themselves as “poor workers” simply because they were so disillusioned with their jobs.

Admittedly some people leave school with only a hazy idea of what career path to choose and may take some time in finding their ideal work sector but for the rest the fault has to be laid squarely at the feet of business leaders.  When a survey throws up comments such as meaningless work, stressful tasks and lack of training then there is something far wrong with organisational culture and employee engagement.

So where are employers going wrong?  Common failings include:

  • Ignoring the need to keep on top of the company culture and keep it in line with vision and values
  • Hiring for qualifications rather than cultural fit
  • Failing to take time to properly train and induct new employees not only in the job but also the beliefs and behaviours of the organisation
  • Allowing a silo mentality to develop
  • Saying one thing and behaving in another
  • Treating employees as costs on the balance sheet rather than as assets

We could go on but you get the idea…every time the leadership fails to step up to its leadership responsibilities the result is unhappy and disillusioned employees.   There is no excuse.  When employees in large numbers think their career choice is a mistake, when employees admit to working at less than their best, when large numbers get no satisfaction from their working lives then it is time for leaders to act or to step down.  Even the most mundane, repetitive task can be viewed positively if care is taken to engage the employee.  Even those who have genuinely reached their own personal career ceiling can still contribute in myriad ways if they are drawn into the engagement mix.  And even those who have genuinely made a mistake about their chosen path should be changing for positive reasons rather than simply to get away from something hateful.

Leadership is about engaging hearts and minds, about finding ways to bring out the best in people and to instilling beliefs and behaviours which lead to outstanding customer and organisational outcomes.  What did you want to be when you grew up?  Whatever it was, if you aren’t stepping up to the challenges of leadership then perhaps it is time that you looked for a change of career.

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