Career Fulfillment? It Starts with Value.


I don’t need headlines to tell me that the vast majority of professionals throughout the country are considering massive career changes because they’re just not happy.  I’ve got a “boots on the ground” perspective.  

As a leadership development coach, I get hundreds of queries from professionals who want support in career transitions.  They want a better fit for their talents, personality, and whole life needs.

I get that.  Entirely.

I always caution people, though, who are considering significant career transitions that before they walk away from their employer, they’ve got to do the work to see if it’s really their employer … or could it actually be them?  (Or, even, a little of both?)

To assess, I ask them two questions they need to be honest and candid about to help discern what’s really going on at work.  

Here they are:

  1. Are you valued at work?
  2. Do you add value?

The first question – Are you valued?relates to how your employer treats you, which is represented in your total rewards package, as well as the behaviors your manager expresses to engage and support you.

Valued employees feel as if their employer cares about them and work to accommodate them at every stage of their career.  That doesn’t mean that their employer coddles or pampers them; rather, they offer a positive work environment, complete with a skilled boss who knows how to both manage and lead people well.

A good manager and leader:

  • Gives you insightful feedback
  • Encourages you to set stretch goals
  • Asks you about your career aspirations
  • Is open to new ideas on how to get the work done

A good manager and leader also demonstrate SPARK behaviors, something I was honored to write about in my book, SPARK.

If you’re not feeling valued, before you leave I encourage you to raise this issue with your manager.  You never know, one courageous conversation could unlock a whole new way of working for you.

The next question – Do you add value?is a trickier one to answer because it requires you to drop your ego, do some reflection, and see if it’s you – it could be possible that you’re the one who’s stuck.

Whether you work for a  business, non-profit, or governmental agency, you’re filling a role that’s intended to drive a specific result.  Whether you’re teaching Jane Austen to 11th graders, monitoring work on an assembly line, or the creative director at a design firm, your actions are connected to something that’s important to your organization’s performance.  

Employees who add value are aligned to organization results, seek to self-improve (even when formal development opportunities aren’t available), and take a tremendous amount of initiative to be relevant.

As you reflect, ask yourself: Which is it – Am I valued?  Do I add value?  And, more importantly: What can I better influence so that if I stay, I’m more fulfilled, or if I leave, I’m clearer on what I’m seeking from both an employer and myself to ensure long-term career success.

Best of luck with the reflection, self-candor, and – ultimately – action, whether that’s in the career transition or you doing the work on you.

I’m with you 

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