Everyone can (and should) own their career

I generally try not to ‘should’ people, but in this case I will. Who’s a career owner? In short, anyone who takes responsibility for his or her career and its direction.

We think of business owners and entrepreneurs as owning their careers, but everyone can…if they choose to do so.  I’m passionate about helping people who are inside organizations as employees define their talents and best direction.  Why? Because as renters of their work, employees today are not contributing, not satisfied and not emotionally connected to it.  And when most of us spend at least a third or more of our days, weeks and months at work, why not make it something not so…well, work-like? Something that gives us energy, allows us to use our talents and makes us significant contributors to our organization’s success?

I do clearly remember my Mother saying “It’s not supposed to be fun…that’s why it’s called work!” But that was in the middle of the Industrial economy, where values reflected the not-so-distant depression era and World War II. Work was manual labor in factories, fields, manufacturing facilities and mechanical shops.  Not so today: there’s limited manual labor driving our economy, computers dominate almost every industry sector,  and continual skills improvement and education are required to stay on top of a changing world.

So what? Here’s so what: this lack of connection with work is costing employees a healthful environment for much of their lives, huge amounts of self-confidence and the motivation of making satisfying contributions; it’s also costing organizations over $375 billion annually in lost productivity.  Given this number (and Gallup has been publishing this information for years), it’s amazing to me that organizations do almost nothing to change this…because it costs money.

So, rather than waiting any longer, employees can choose to take responsibility (i.e. ownership) for their careers, increasing engagement in the work they do, their contribution and their belief-in-self at the same time. When workers’ hearts are connected to their heads and hands, everybody wins: workers, customers and the organization.

The ‘heart’ connection is an emotional link and it comes most often from using strengths and talents, being really satisfied and content with the work.  The emotional link feeds the ‘head’ so there is a clear recognition of the value of the work and its outcomes, and this in turn feeds the ‘hands’ so that excellence in results becomes the standard.

What organization wouldn’t want workers like this? An amazing number, apparently, based upon those that provide no growth opportunities or career options and choose to focus on employee weaknesses.

So it just makes sense: the time has come for everyone who works to take on career ownership. The process to accomplish this is simple, but not easy…takes work on the part of the employee and takes some time to pull the pieces together. But once you own your career, you always own it. Your security belongs to you, you call the shots, and you determine your growth direction. It’s a tremendously smart direction in today’s challenging world of work.

Over the next weeks and months I’ll define the process, the pieces on how to take career responsibility. It’s something you can do on your own, within your current organization, with or without organizational support.  With even a bit of internal support, you can implement growth and career direction within your current workplace. And even without support, you have some certainty around your most satisfying work and best career direction.  So you have information upon which you can choose to take action…or not.

Is your 2009 career direction satisfying or stifling? Stop back, and we’ll help you make sure that you’re doing the choosing.