Square pegs, round holes

Job fit is an obvious concern for any organization but what does it mean, to both the company and the individual?  Let’s start with the latter.  For employees, a bit of backward engineering might be in order.  What was wrong with your last job?  How about the one before that?  What was right about it?  How much of the problem was the job(s) and how much of it was you?

The typical person will hold multiple jobs in his/her lifetime but, usually, they will encompass just a few careers.  It’s not a semantic difference.  Too often, however, the terms are used interchangeably as people switch one company address for another, usually but not always for a bigger paycheck, and just as usually, running into the same frustration.  If only there was a word for doing the same thing repeatedly but looking for different results.

People leave jobs for any number of reasons and they leave regardless of the economy.  Even in the wake of the recession, nearly two-million people per month quit their jobs voluntarily.  Since then, the figure has climbed even higher and, again, these are people choosing to leave jobs.  Money is seldom the reason why.  The most common reason is dissatisfaction with management; people don’t leave organizations and paychecks, they leave people.  Think about the upheaval that causes all around.

Think about job fit from a couple of vantage points, both governed by a rule of three.  Organizations want 1)to find people who can do the job, 2) to have a sense of how they will job, and 3), to be relatively certain those people will enjoy their jobs.  That last part – enjoying the job – can be the toughest hurdle, for both the individual and the company.  No one applies for a job they expect to hate and no company hires someone who is expected to fail.  This provides an overview of meshing the key points of ability, behaviors, and interests.

Everyone has certain innate behavioral traits and varying degrees of ability to adapt those traits to the job.    The ideal setting, for both employer and employee, is one in which people can be who they are most of the time.  Most of the time is important; everyone has to modify certain personality traits based on the setting.  A highly sociable person will probably not like working in an isolated environment and a self-starter is not likely to thrive under micromanagement.  However, can the sociable person find enough outlets for workplace interaction to suit that component of his/her personality?  And can the self-starter adjust to a certain degree of scrutiny?  Just as important, can the organization take these aspects of their people’s personalities into account and manage them accordingly?

This post is full of questions but the figures about job-hopping and workplace satisfaction highlight the need for answers.  We spend a good deal of our lives at work or thinking about work, so the questions are worth pondering.  Put it this way – how long would you stay in a relationship where you felt smothered or alienated or unappreciated?  Probably not long.  My guess is you would either raise the issue with your partner and seek a resolution or end the relationship.  No reason the employer/employee relationship should not get the same level of consideration.