Let’s Get Personal: Is Your Work Consistent with Your Values?
Posted on November 18, 2013 by TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)
How often do you really stop to think about yourself and how your self fits with your work, your boss, and/or your organization? People likely do not consider this as often, or at least, as deeply, as they should. There’s plenty of research out there to explain how important it is to find a fit with the organization that employs you (Jex & Britt, 2008), but what if people aren’t actually assessing their selves realistically? I’m currently finishing my master’s thesis on the effects of one’s self-concept on attraction to organizations as future employers. As part of my study, I asked undergraduates to first write a paragraph about either their actual self or their ideal self. As I am now reading through these qualitative responses, it started me thinking about whether people really search for careers that are consistent with both who they are now and who they want to be. It seems as though adults search for and accept careers that enable them to eventually do what they really love later. As an example, perhaps a man takes a job (that he has convinced himself that he wants and is passionate about) in order to gain experience and accrue enough wealth to someday start a non-profit organization to help disadvantaged children. Perhaps this is merely an unfortunate fact of life in today’s economy, but the costs to individuals’ happiness as well as organizational health are large. If one’s values, hopes, and dreams are inconsistent with the values of the organization in which one works, neither side is benefiting much.
Is your current work something that matches your self-concept? This may actually be somewhat difficult to answer. To help matters, try writing down a paragraph or two about who you believe you actually are or who you would ideally like to be, regardless of what you do to make your living. Then, after taking the time to consider your self, read what you’ve written and think about the description as if it were about someone you don’t know well. What should that person be doing with his or her life? What kinds of activities would that person like to become involved in? What are the values that person holds? Then, finally, what should that person do as a career? Asking yourself many questions about your real values, goals, and motivations in life will likely cause you to think more seriously about the way you spend your time at work (i.e., most of your waking life).
Jex, S. M., & Britt, T. W. (2008). Organizational psychology: A scientist-practitioner approach. (2nd ed.). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Hoboken, NJ.