A year after deciding not to pursue HR work I have a better idea of what snuffed the flame of engagement after a long career when I loved the work.
I began in HR in a small sixty-five person business because I wanted to help make it a great place to work. A background in organizational development and a successful six-month development process that engaged 85% of our front-line staff finished and I moved to the human resource function, the area that most needed attention. When I left the organization some eighteen years later, we had become part of a Fortune 500 company with operations in three countries and over 50,000 employees.
Over the years I gained experience in most aspects of human resources and worked with senior management who believed in the power of engagement and supported front-line staff. I’d say I had a pretty ideal work environment. Despite that, when I left I discovered I needed to dissolve or reframe a lot of ideas I had accumulated, and my view of myself.
I first looked at the internal and external drivers.
- Personal Values
- Personal Vision
- Desire to Serve
This is a list of my internal drivers. Yours may look a bit different. Now let’s look at the external drivers.
- Company Leaders
- Company Values
- Company Vision
- Company Policies
- Front-line Opinion
As with the internal drivers, your external drivers may be a bit different.
From looking at the internal and external drivers you can see how, over time, it’s easy for your voice and vision to be overtaken by external voices and ideas.
So how do you get out from underneath and re-engage with the internal drivers that brought you to the work you love?
10 steps to reconnect with work you love
1. Identify and reconnect with your internal drivers.
Why do you do what you do? Pay particular attention to the values you want to embody in your work and to the vision you have for success in it. Is your desire to serve alive and well? If not, why not? What’s changed? How is your knowledge base? When did you last do some professional development that challenged you to be better? Is your conscience happy? Are any ethical concerns addressed promptly? Do you regularly observe the work of the people you serve? Do you know what’s great and what needs to be improved? Do you reflect on and gain insight from your day-to-day work life? Do you feel successful?
2. Assess your relationship with External Drivers.
Is what you do in tune with expert opinion or do you really feel it is irrelevant to your situation, and if so, why? Are you compliant with Employment Standards, Human Rights and WorkSafe legislation? Do you respond to the letter of the law or understand the intent? Are there many rules governing your work? If so, do you agree with them and believe they are needed? Are rules written or unwritten? What do you feel your professional colleagues expect? Where did you make assumptions? Are company policies clear, simple and direct? What assumptions have you made about front-line opinion? How frequently do you check it? Are the methods you use effective and accurate? How does your boss communicate expectations? Are they clear, written, communicated well? Does your boss embody Company values? Clarify as needed. How in sync are your efforts with Company Values? Do Company Leaders embody values that are important to you? Do they embody Company values? Does what you are doing build on your professional training or is it taking you in another direction?
Having a better understanding of your internal and external drivers lays a foundation for the next steps.
3. Review your strengths or discover them.
To what extent do you currently use your strengths at work? Estimate the amount of time you spend using your strengths. If you can hit the 20% mark you have a good chance of loving your job.
4. Look at how do you instinctively respond to situations.
Don’t know? Invest in the Kolbe A Index, an assessment that will give you insight into your motivations. Once you know your preferred method of operations, you can take steps to move toward doing more work that fits with your MO.
5. Log your highs and lows.
For two weeks log every high (activity where you felt very engaged) your lows (activity where you felt disengaged or bored). Once you’ve completed the log look for themes.
6. Have a dialogue with your professional role
You can dialogue either in a journal or by sitting first in one chair and then in another, speaking for yourself and then switching and speaking for your professional role. In each position ask what you like and dislike, what advice you have to give, what you would stop doing, and about what you would change. If you’ve done this verbally, make some notes after your dialogue to reflect on later. You can do this dialogue with a mentor or friend as well.
7. Write a profile of yourself.
Pick your favorite work related magazine and picture the article running three years from now. Which magazine did you chose? What are the accomplishments you highlight? Why did the magazine chose you for a profile?
8. What legacy you would leave if you left your job?
What would people thank you for and miss? What would you be most proud of? How would this position add to your career?
9. If, for some reason you couldn’t do this work, what would you do?
10. If, you attained enlightenment tonight, what would you do differently tomorrow?
Join the conversation: Do you sometimes feel disconnected from your work even though you love it? What do you do to reconnect? If you try any of these steps, let me know how they work for you!