Career, Job Search

Engineer Your Career Passion

Most people want to be satisfied and fulfilled by their work. What we do for work and thinking about our career is a central focus for most of my learners, colleagues, friends, and family. And why not? Our jobs take up our time, focus our priorities, or at least have our attention — as we spend  an average of 13 years of our life at work. Asking individuals to find their “career callings” is a stressful task. How can you find great work you love, when really you need a job to be functional, realistic, and something you can obtain? Finding a “job you love” may not pay the bills, support your needs, and be something you can do at the moment. Work can be fun, but not all work is. And, sometimes a job is just a job — it might be a job to support yourself and family, that is in the right geographic location, be the first step in your career, or just something you’re doing right now while you try to figure out the next steps to take in your professional life.

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That being said, many people seek meaning and purpose in their world of work. Which might be something that may never happen. Maybe we’re putting too much emphasis on this job fulfillment. Whether it is millennial burnout or workism as our professional identity, there seems to be no shortage of folks discussing and writing about the topic careers and work life these days. I appreciated how Elizabeth Gilbert breaks down how we think about our careers in a Hello Monday interview, specifically how we might confuse these four aspects of our life when it comes to reflecting on our work life:

  1. Hobby: Is something you do because you enjoy it and you don’t need anything back for it. It’s fun and you delight in it.
  2. Job: A thing you have because everyone has to have one. It doesn’t need to fulfill your emotional needs because it’s there to pay the bills and you have a life outside your job that is more interesting (e.g. family, hobbies, pursuits, etc.)
  3. Career: Should be something you are passionate about (mostly). A career is a job that you deeply care about.
  4. Vocation: A sacred calling of something that is very holy to you that is the center of your life that can never be taken away from you no matter what.

This framework presents ideas around careers vs. callings, specifically outlining what you do and how you do. In the span of your work life, you might find yourself in anyone or all four of these areas to find fulfillment OR to support your career planning.  Listen to the full podcast episode HERE.

Sometimes how we craft our work and leisure time leaves many professional unsatisfied by not answering their career callings and leading to professional regret (Berg, Grant, & Johnson, 2010). This synopsis by Gilbert is not entirely wrong. Our job attitudes and meaning-making at work is highly predictive of how individuals thrive and contribute to their organizations of employment (Wrzesniewski, 2003), specifically when job crafting in service of purpose is encouraged and supports the well-being of the employee (Tims, Bakker, & Derks, 2013). Each semester I teach a course in personal/professional development, where my learners go through modules to figure out their own trajectory for their academic and career path. Some are first-generation, first time in college students; whereas others have years of experience in their profession and are looking to finish a 4-year degree to advance, transition to a new career, and more. I know that identifying career callings and directions are challenging. So I typically do NOT give the traditional advice to “find your passion.” I think passions are often developed and created as we gain employment experience, learn more about ourselves, and find opportunities for discovery in the wold of work.

I know that I am not alone in this thinking

Listen to the recent WorkLife with Adam Grant podcast: The Perils of Following your Career Passion that shares how the “do what you love” is often terrible career advice.

What will your future work self look like? Do you know what you want to be doing? What can you do now to get you there? Your first job might not make you happy or your next career move might not be your “dream job” — but what will help you learn, grow and enhance YOU for the next step in your professional life? How can you develop your talents and build upon your skills, interest, and abilities? These are the questions I pose to my learners each semester. That is, to really think about what drives you into action and to identify how to these interests to individual skills and talents for work.

In studying unconventional career paths of “dark horses,” Rose and Ogas (2018) found that the pursuit of fulfillment requires work:

“Following your passion takes little effort. Engineering your passion, on the other hand, is a more serious undertaking. It requires that you diligently pursue a deeper understanding of yourself. Engineering passion is hard work-but the benefits are enormous” (pp. 76-77).

I think we all could put more effort into designing and building the career we want. Passion might be part of it, or we might decide this passion is something we do alongside our work life. There is no one standard formula for how our hobby, job, career, and calling exist with one another. Here are a few big questions to consider if you want to start engineering your career passion to create a fulfilling work experience and to support your future work self:

  • Legacy:
    • Where do you want to make a difference in the world?
    • What do you want to leave behind?
    • How can you start moving towards these goals?
    • Would your 10-year-old self be proud of what you are doing?
  • Mastery:
    • What sort of actions/skills put you into a state of flow?
    • What is something you can focus on for hours?. e.g. you might forget to eat, lose sleep, etc.
    • What knowledge, skills, or abilities do you want to learn?
    • What ways are you challenging yourself to actively improve, practice, or develop?
  • Action:
    • What are you doing (or not doing) today to move your career goals forward?
    • How are you honing your optimal skills and talents for the next job or career transition?
    • What ways are you making time to grow and develop your future work self now?
    • Who might you reach out to to support/advise/mentor with your career development in your organization, industry, and/or professional field?

References:

Berg, J. M., Grant, A. M., & Johnson, V. (2010). When callings are calling: Crafting work and leisure in pursuit of unanswered occupational callings. Organization Science, 21(5), 973-994.
Rose, T., & Ogas, O. (2018). Dark horse: Achieving success through the pursuit of fulfillment. HarperOne.
Tims, M., Bakker, A. B., & Derks, D. (2013). The impact of job crafting on job demands, job resources, and well-being. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 18(2), 230-240.
Wrzesniewski, A. (2003). Finding positive meaning in work. In K. Cameron & J. Dutton (eds.) Positive organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new discipline, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, pp. 296-308.
Collaboration, Learning Community, Virtual Communities, virtual teaming

HOW TO: Virtually Team and Facilitate Meetings

Did you know you can meet and share with your colleagues and peers beyond an event, campus, or meeting? Perhaps you find a shared research project idea or a group of you had an idea sparked while at a conference to continue working on or you have a great colleague from afar you want to work with – then virtual teaming might help you stay connected and allow for collaboration. Through effective management of a remote team and hosting semi-regular virtual meetings, you can to provide updates, share ideas, and seek support for these new projects/initiatives. Regular meetings allow members of your community to connect and communicate beyond emails or the listserv.

Synchronous meetings allow you to deliver information, encourage discussion, and involve your communities or teams in a dynamic way! A remote/online meeting is more dynamic, structured way to connect beyond a  listserv or any social media channel. It is recommended to make these type of group meetings effective by having defined objectives and outcomes, an agenda, and a facilitator. To avoid “The Conference Call in Real Life” situation, here are a few suggestions to plan and organize the facilitation of a remote/online meeting. Or maybe you are Rethinking Office Hours in a distance/online way to meet the needs of your students, staff, and faculty — the possibilities are endless!

To work with your team from afar, you will not only have to consider meeting but also manage your work. Whether you are collaborating on research, developing a presentation, organizing a program or planning a conference — you should consider how you are going to virtually manage your team’s time and tasks. This #acpa16 Genius Lab resource will introduce you to tools and strategies to effectively share information and outline a few project management basics to help you collaborate more effectively.

The “HOW TO” Steps

  1. Planning a viable agenda or series of agendas. Identify your purpose of the meeting, what you will discuss & the agenda structure, e.g. information, open discussion, updates.
  2. Effective use of technology. Try out and experiment with your technological applications and platforms in advance, so you are familiar with how they work & troubleshooting. Be sure to include any instructions to your community members on how they will have to log in or access your meeting space and materials.
  3. Preparing participants and pre-work or pre-meeting information. By sending information in advance helps to prepare your participants for the meeting by letting them read materials, review the agenda, and prepare items to talk about or ask questions on. Emailing a reminder with this information makes for a more functional remote/online meeting.
  4. Keeping participants focused and engaged. During your remote/online meeting, think about adding in a poll or survey question, provide a space for open discussion, consider other ways participants can “talk” at the meeting, e.g. Instant Message, chat functions, within the open, shared Google Doc, etc. Consider assigning roles during the meeting, such as meeting minutes, rotating chair/timekeeper, point-person or project leads, etc.
  5. Building trust and social capital. Establish a rapport with your team or group members at meetings during the in-person meeting (if possible) or through ongoing communication between meetings on the listserv or a social media platform. Get to know your members, and allow them to get to know you! Continue this beyond the face-to-face (F2F) time to build rapport.Remember to include introductions and/or an icebreaker during your meeting. Suggestions included the References (Ericksen, 2012).
  6. Maintaining momentum between meetings. The discussion and development within your community do not have to end at the close of a meeting. Encourage meetings to plan projects (webinar, research, writing, etc.) during the in-between times & leave space on the next agenda to report in & for progress updates.
    • Encourage members to follow up or reach out to you with ideas or suggestions after the meeting as well.
    • If there are multiple projects within your community, you might want to utilize a shared space like Dropbox and/or a wiki to keep all the information and developments in one central location for an easy leadership transition.

*NOTE: Consider the remote/online conferencing tools and meeting resources in advance. How you will facilitate interaction and dialogue before, during, and after your online/remote meeting? How you will engage your participants? When can they comment, give feedback or ask questions? Think about the types of interaction and needs for your meeting when deciding on your Meeting Collaboration Tools. Also, consider options you might have available at your own institution for meeting platforms and applications – ask and learn!

BONUS: Check out the Why We Collaborate NPR TED Radio Hour for MORE ideas about collaborating with your virtual team.

A Few Meeting Collaboration Tools & Resources:

References

Chavanu, B. (2013, July 6). Online meeting guide: Software and strategy. Make Use Of. Retrieved from http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/online-meeting-guide-software-and-strategy/

Craemer, M. (2014, March 2). 7 tips for effective conference calls. Seattle PI. Retrieved from http://blog.seattlepi.com/workplacewrangler/2014/03/02/7-tips-for-effective-conference-calls/

Ericksen, C. (2012, May 2). Eight great ice-breakers for online meetings. Cisco Blog. Retrieved from http://blogs.cisco.com/home/eight-great-icebreakers-for-online-meetings

Fried, J. (2010, October). Why work doesn’t happen at work. TEXxMidwest https://www.ted.com/talks/jason_fried_why_work_doesn_t_happen_at_work

Hogan, J. (2015, March 15). 25 ways educators across the country are using Google Hangouts. The Compelled Educator. Retrieved from http://thecompellededucator.blogspot.com/2015/03/24-ways-educators-across-country-are.html

Schindler, E. (2008, February 15). Running an effective teleconference or virtual meeting. CIO. Retrieved from http://www.cio.com/article/2437139/collaboration/running-an-effective-teleconference-or-virtual-meeting.html

Thomas, F. (2010, December 20). 5 tips for conducting a virtual meeting. Inc. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/12/5-tips-for-conducting-a-virtual-meeting.html

Wolf, L. (2010, October 13). How to host an effective virtual meeting. California Digital Library INFO News. Retrieved from http://www.cdlib.org/cdlinfo/2010/10/13/how-to-host-an-effective-virtual-meeting/

Young, J. (2009). Six critical success factors for running a successful virtual meeting. Facilitate.com Retrieved from https://www.facilitate.com/support/facilitator-toolkit/docs/Six-Critical-Success-Factors-for-Successful-Virtual-Meetings.pdf

MGMT 6860, Reflections

Considering the Impact of Work Design

Work Design is the “study, creation, and modification of the composition, content, structure, and environment within which jobs and roles are enacted… concerns who is doing the work, what is done at work, and the interrelationship of the different work elements, and the interplay of job and role enactment with the broader task, social, physical, and organizational context” (Morgeson & Humphrey, 2008, p. 47).

In thinking about the world of work – how often do you consider the design or composition of your work? Jobs are typically organized in similar positions with regards to work tasks performed or a set of activities to serve the organization. In thinking about job design, Morgeson and Humphrey (2008) identify this as the “content and structure of jobs that employees perform.” Those who research job design tend to review the tasks and activities performed on a regular basis, and also consider the team design and role requirements within teams.

Since a number of jobs are combined and collaborative, it might be more helpful to consider an Integrative Model of Work Design. Morgeson and Humphrey’s (2008) model will identify various work and worker characteristics – specifically those work attributes that includes task, social, and contextual sources.

1) Task Characteristics: autonomy, worker control, skill variety, task identity, task significance, feedback from the job, task variety, job complexity, information processes, specialization, problem solving. Worker characteristics include job knowledge, technical skills, self-management, cognitive ability, task experience, proactive personality, and needs for achievement

2) Social Characteristics: social support, feedback form others, interdependence,, interaction outside the organization, team experience, need for affiliation, and hardy personalities

3) Contextual Characteristics: physical demands, work conditions, ergonomics, equipment use, boundary spanning (interaction within the organization but outside one’s department/team), organizational support, workspace, virtuality of work (communication), consequence of facility, physical ability, propensity to trust, organizational experience

Future research considerations for work design could include:

  •  key theoretical perspectives on fit is the needs-supplies/demands-abilities duality
  • gravitational hypothesis: workers “gravitate” towards and stay in jobs that they are both capable of performing and fit with their individual differences
  • conceptualizing individual attributes at the team level takes an additive approach – studying team vs. individual composition models
  • role vs. team composition approach: how role holder characteristics impact performance rather than putting the focus only on individuals
  • understand the impact that learning  and knowledge-based organizations should consider for work design
  • influence of the following attributes: self-regulation, social-facilitation, workload sharing, convergence, etc
  • impact for informal work redesigns – job crafting – that emerges out of work experience and organizational change
Reference: 

Morgeson, F.P. & Humphrey, S.E. (2008). Job and team design: Toward a more integrative conceptualization of work design. In J. Martocchio (Ed.). Research in Personnel and Human Resource Management (Vol. 27, pp. 39-91). United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing.

Collaboration, web 2.0

Web 2.0 Goes to Work (for Education, Too!)

The McKinsey Quarterly presented a great business model of 6 ways that web 2.0 technologies can go to work for managers:

1. The transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top.

2. The best uses come from users—but they require help to scale.

3. What’s in the workflow is what gets used.

4. Appeal to the participants’ egos and needs—not just their wallets.

5. The right solution comes from the right participants.

6. Balance the top-down and self-management of risk.
I would argue that these business practices can also support best practices in higher education. If we think about our students, faculty & staff in our “business model” this might be a few things to consider on how to get web 2.0 to work for education:

1. Students need to part of the development & process of education.

2. Go to where students are – use the technologies are being used.

3. Incorporate web 2.0 tools into current resources & services

4. Interact & provide feedback to activity online.

5. Target tech-savvy students & staff to help facilitate online learning initiatives among peer groups.

6. Encourage online contributions from students with some moderation.