The Best Jobs 2020 and Beyond

 

So I saw a smart video about which are the best jobs.


They are not the ones that just pay the most!


Here are the three criteria to look for in your next dream job (aside from the money):


1) Autonomy – Work that is self-directed provides satisfaction that jobs that are closely or micro-managed do not. 


2) Mastery – Jobs that allow you get better at them over time  (technical proficiency) provide a sense of mastery and self-respect. 


3) Purpose – When you have a deep sense of purpose and meaning from your work there is simply no greater motivator and satisfier than this. 


I’d also add that the best places to work are the ones with:

  • The best bosses and the nicest people
  •  
  • A solid balance for work and life


Overall, if we can reconnect the profit motive with the purpose motive then we have truly have the best jobs out there. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Third-World Office

Paper Towels.jpeg

So hooray for paper towels. 


A good workspace is definitely conducive to productivity and morale. 


That means cleanliness, open collaborative spaces, quiet work areas/offices, ample supplies, and obviously good technology. 


I’ve been in world-class institutions in terms of their mission, but that were third-world in terms of their work conditions. 


In one place, the bathroom toilets kept getting clogged with paper towels, so they got rid of them altogether, which forced the employees to use toilet seat covers for hand towels–yes, believe it!


Of course, at least we had running water, but there was also often flooding in the cubicle areas and the windows were nailed shut–high-tech security, not. 


In another place, in the private sector, I remember a new CFO coming in and being so cheap that he actually got rid of the milk and creamer from people’s coffee. 


Talking about pennywise and dollar foolish. 


Don’t these institutions get that the way you treat people impacts the way they respond to their work.


How can we be the Superpower of the planet and can’t provide decent, normal work conditions to our workers. 


It goes without saying that treating people with respect, dignity, and value should be happening all the time, but doesn’t.


We’re not even talking six-figure bonuses and stock options either–just treat people like human beings and not indentured slaves or cattle. 


Wake up America–you’re people are worth working plumbing, paper towels, and some milk and creamer for their coffees and really a heck of a lot more than that. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Playing The Work Game Can End In More Ways Than One

Work Hard

This game takes working to a whole new level of absurdity. 


It’s called “Don’t Get Fired!


And it’s by a 29-year old South Korean programmer who found a way to vent his own frustration with the crazy working world by making it into a mobile game. 


The goal is to “rise through the ranks of a nameless corporation by performing an endless string of mind-numbing tasks, while avoiding  a long list of fireable offenses.”


I did a screenshot here after I passed the interview and did the tasks that the various levels of management told me to by yelling at me with exclamation marks. 


The more exclamation marks means the more yelling and critical the tasks are from the seniors in the organization. 


Here the added stressor is everyone is in “fever mode,” because the president is in town, so now you are getting work from everyone and have to manage all the competing priorities. 


See me, the intern in the lower right corner with the work piled up on my desk.


You have to tap furiously on each task to turn them green and eventually make them disappear as completed.


In the game, you basically “get fired again and again in a cycle of humiliation and false hope.” 


There are no less than “29 ways to get fired, including opening a box of donuts that doesn’t belong to you,…addressing colleagues with the wrong level of formality, or failing to laugh hard enough at the jokes of a company vice president.”


One game player said, “sometimes you just have to laugh at the futility of life” or in this case I think he is referring to meaningless work tasks. 


Mind-numbing tasks and yelling in the office are not what decent work life is about.  

It’s no wonder that doing meaningful work, being treated with dignity and respect, and having the opportunity to learn and grow are some of the most important aspects of a satisfying job.


Then why get fired, when instead you can get promoted. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Lie Of the Open Workspace

The Lie Of the Open Workspace

There are so many workplace liars—the problem is many of them are experienced and good at selling you a bunch of malarkey.

Often, they tell you what they want, either to save the company money or to make themselves look innovative, but either way it’s inevitably at your cost.

One of these lies is from chieftains that tell you’ll be better off working in an open workspace–i.e. thrown into a corporate bullpen.

Oh, by the way, vacate your office by Friday!

Sure there are a plethora of benefits to having common spaces to share ideas and open up communications—and these should be plentiful and stocked with comfy sofas, energy-inducing munchables, and ample white boards and tech gear to facilitate collaboration.

But when the pendulum swings all the way to the other side, and your personal office space become a hoteling situation, you know you are losing out to penny-pinching executives, who want to save on leasing office space, furniture, and the like in order to boost their personal bonuses at the end of the year.

Just ask yourself:

– Do people need privacy to handle sensitive personnel, budget, contracting, and strategic planning and execution issues (as well as occasional family or personal issues—we are all human)?

– Do you need time to close the door for some quiet time to think, innovate, and catch up on work?

– Is there a genuine human need to have a place to put your work and personal things to be productive and comfortable?

The truth is that people need and deserve a balanced work environment—one where people can move healthily between closed and open spaces, individual work and teamwork, privacy and sharing, creativity and productivity, individualism and conformity, comfort and cost-savings.

Anyone that tells you that people work better in a fully open environment where you have to book up a desk and computer is selling you on short-term organizational cost-savings at the expense of longer-term human capital satisfaction and productivity.

Next time, a “leader” tries to convince you of the merits of your not having a professional workspace, desk, computer, and so on—ask yourself whether you want to work in a Motel 6 every day or for a stable organization that values and invests in it people.

An appropriate blended environment of open and closed work spaces, where it shows that you are empowered and valued is a career, and not just a job;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to epochgraphics)

Bringing The Marriage Back Into Our Jobs

Federal Times (11 Sept 2011) reported on a human capital study done by the Partnership for Public Service (PPS) and Deloitte that found that “after the three-year [employment] mark, employee’ satisfaction scores plummets” from 77.2 the first year to 66.2 after the third year.

Tim McManus, the VP for PPS underscored the significance of employee dissatisfaction on productivity and retention, when he stated that “it’s more than just the end of the honeymoon period; your marriage is on the rocks.”

For sometime now, we have been hearing about the high frequency of job changing for Gen Xers and Yers; this week, I actually heard of someone who had changed jobs literally 50 times before the age of 30!

Certainly, I would imagine that living in a high-tech, fast-paced culture that we do now, contributes to the number and rate of job changes, where people are looking for lots of responsibility and recognition in short order or they simply move on. There is a notion that life is too short to waste it in an unproductive or unfulfilling job.

Further, the poor economy, where layoffs have become commonplace has likewise contributed to an employment culture where employers and employees no longer feel beholden to each other, and each is looking out for their own best interests rather than their mutual success.

Unfortunately, what is getting lost in this employment picture is the notion of career. To employers, a person has become a human capital asset–kept on-board only as long as they remain more of an asset than a liability. And correspondingly, to many employees a “job is just a job” now-a-days–it is a temporary phenomena for X hours a weeks for “as long as it lasts,” rather than a long-term place for personal and professional growth.

In a class this week, I had the privilege of hearing a terrific career development officer discuss the lifecycle of a job, as follows:

1) Steep Learning Curve — We all go through it…can anyway say, “how do you use the copy machine?”

2) Strong Expertise — This is the point where we are really excelling…we have become subject matter experts and are valued for that expertise.

3) Losing Your Edge — At a certain point, people start to lose interest, performance, or get out of sync with their boss or the organization.

4) Hitting Rock Bottom — If there is no course correction, employees who have “lost their edge” go on to become restless and dissatisfied and risk a precipitous decline.

Picture step 4 as a potential big SPLAT.

Most people start off their careers “bright eyes and bushy tailed,” but at some point, if they are not well-managed, they become discouraged, disillusioned, demoralized and so on.

Obviously, this hurts the organization and the employee–both suffer when the two are out of sync. However, employees may change jobs at any stage in the lifecycle of a job, but the later stages become more painful for boss and employee.

So as leaders, are there things we can do to keep job satisfaction scores high or does the very notion of a lifecycle of a job mean that eventually “all good things must come to an end”?

I think we certainly can do things to make for a longer and more fulfilling job life cycle–training and career opportunities, ethical management, good communication, recognition and rewards, mentoring and coaching, work-life balance, treating people fairly, and more.

At the same time, even in ideal situations, people, organizations, and markets change, and we must change with them. It is important to recognize, when things have changed inside ourselves and our organizations, and when it’s time to make a change outside in the job market. This is healthy when it’s done for the right reasons and when it results in new opportunities to learn, grow, and contribute.

Every situation brings new challenges and opportunities and we need to meet those head-on striving for job satisfaction, working through times of dissatisfaction, and recognizing life cycles are normal and natural–we are all human.

Good luck!

Helping Employees Find The Right Job Fit

I have a new article in Public CIO Magazine (August 2011) on the topic of how to handle poorly performing employees.

Finding the right candidate for a job is much like finding a spouse — it requires the right chemistry. There’s a critical difference between having great qualifications and being the right person for a particular job, which is a concept that organizational behavior specialist refer to as ‘person-job fit.'”

When you see employees struggling, try to bring them up to speed in every possible way. If that doesn’t work, help them find a better position to continue their path of professional and personal development.”

Read the rest of the article at Government Technology.
(Source Photo: here)