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Amy Wrzesniewski, an organisational psychologist at the Stern School of business, New York University, studied workers and found everyone falls into one of the three categories. Some people see themselves as having a 'job', others have a 'career', and others have a 'calling'.
She found that roughly a third of her sample fell into each orientation, suggesting that people are equally distributed among jobs, careers and callings.
Here is the really important part!
The really important part of the study was that in any given occupation, people can have either a job, a career, or a calling orientation.
It doesn't matter if people deliver pizza for a living or are highly specialised surgeons, it only matters how they perceive their work. There are lawyers who hate their jobs and gravediggers who love theirs.
People with a job orientation are not particularly excited about their work. These are individuals we typically think of who are working because they "have to."
These people do not like or value the nature of their work, they look forward to breaks and the end of their shift. They would not recommend their work to a friend, and do not tend to think about their job when they are away from work.
Those with a job orientation are primarily motivated by money and other tangible benefits that their work provides, such as health insurance. They are usually very eager to retire.
How many people do you have like this?
People with a career orientation are more likely than their "job" counterparts to like their work.
Those with a career orientation are motivated by both primary (such as income) and secondary (such as social status) benefits of their work.
In particular, these individuals are attracted to power, responsibility, and possibility for advancement that their work brings. The idea of promotions, pay raises, paid vacations, and supervisory roles appeals to them. They may or may not like all aspects of their job, but they are motivated by the possibility of advancement. Career-oriented individuals sometimes look at their work as a steppingstone to somewhere better. They can't wait to get a promotion, because it means recognition of their good work and is a sign of their success in comparison with co-workers.
People with a calling orientation typically love and value what they do in and of itself.
They may be paid well for what they do but typically espouse the idea that they would "do this for free." Calling-oriented individuals commonly believe that their work contributes something necessary and good to the world and improves quality of life not only for themselves, but also for others.
These people like to think about their work, even when they are away from work, and would be likely to take their work with them on holiday. It is important to note that these are not simply workaholics (although some may be) who are absorbed only with their jobs but are people who believe they are creating a better world. They would be pretty upset if they were forced to stop working and do not look forward to retirement.
In my work I am often surprised and saddened by how many managers (even senior managers) see their work as a job.
This is not the natural state. There is a spiritual side to all human beings. I know, from working with hundreds of managers, that every person has a role to play and a contribution to make. When people find their Purpose they are filled with energy far greater than physical, emotional or mental energy. I have found that with a little help, most people can find deep meaning in their work, and the energy that goes with it.
It all comes down to identifying their genius and their purpose and then helping them rethink their work so that over a period of time they achieve what makes them feel great. And in the process the organisation benefits too. For more on Leadership development ...
We all have a genius factor. Most of us don't know what it is, therefore we don't use it very often. When we understand it and use it more often and deliberately, we become multiples more effective. For more on Finding Genius...
Each and everyone of us has a reason for being on this Earth. When we know it, we get enormous power from the focus and clarity it gives. It also gives our life deeper meaning. And yet research shows many people don't know their purpose or have not bothered to think it through. For more on finding Purpose...
If you want your people to see their work as a calling, give me a call.
I am available to come and talk to you and your management team.
Liberating the human spirit at work
I really believe there is a better way of making work happen - Itís mostly about breaking down silos and creating more depth, connection and meaning.