I am always humbled by many people’s pride in what would initially appear to be a horrific job. These range from those who clean up often horrific levels of sewage and waste / work with toxic chemicals / operate on remote and harsh mine sites. You see the obvious level of pride and skill in their work coupled with a tremendous camaraderie and most importantly – a purpose in what they are doing.
And then I see some engineering professionals - often well paid with what appears to be good jobs - who absolutely hate what they are doing and make sure everyone knows how dissatisfied they are.
Why do some hate and others love
I thus puzzle why there are differences in how people approach their work. After all – it is a huge part of your life and it is best to either ‘chuck it in’ or re-assess how you approach it. A few modest suggestions on building meaning into your job.
Tie your Work to a Great Service
When you can clearly see your work leading to great outcomes for the greater good; you can be inspired to put more into it. It is thus vital to put your job into the context of what it is ultimately helping with in terms of service.
For example, we get a huge number of positive comments on a weekly basis from those who have been enriched by the courses they have attended at our college – these comments include students who have achieved promotions/enriched their communities with improved infrastructure (power stations/medical clinics) and indeed have saved lives with their acquired know-how and skills. The regular feedback of comments has definitely inspired everyone at the college – no matter what their job level - to see their jobs as considerably more meaningful than a simple nine to five activity.
Pursue Excellence in one’s Job
By insisting on focusing on a job to the highest level – you can certainly make the work considerably more meaningful and hopefully enjoyable. For example, ensuring that you are familiar with all aspects of the job and know how to deliver to the highest quality and that you are ‘top of your game’; can give huge satisfaction. Putting together strategies to improve the overall quality of the job outcomes can also be hugely positive tasks.
Work in Partnership as a Team and connect with others
Working in a team and connecting with others can be an enormous boost to one’s happiness and sense of fulfillment in the work at hand. Other strategies include understanding the contribution of others in your team as well as mentoring those starting off in their jobs. After all – it is all about people.
Remember the Nuts and Bolts of What the Job Gives you
One normally takes on a job for reasons which are quite boringly obvious but we forget this. Such as you need to earn money to pay the bills and put food on the table. Always remember that this is a key outcome of the job.
As Jim Collins remarks: It is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.
Thanks for a thought provoking article by John Coleman of the Harvard Business Review (Dec.29th, 2017)
Yours in engineering learning
Mackay’s Musings – 2nd January’18 #668
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