Energy is our fuel for the journey. If we don't have enough, we will not likely be able to sustain our journey. When we find our jobs to be energizing, at the end of most days, we have a sense of accomplishment and finish with at least as much energy as we had when we started. Furthermore, we retain our excitement and enthusiasm and look forward to returning to repeat the experience time and time again, as long as it remains energizing. During our time away from such a job, we likely will have enough energy to do other important things that make for a fulfilling life. I believe this to be the essence of job satisfaction.
When we find that our job drains our energy, we leave at the end of most days with a lot less energy than we had when we started. We feel that we are a lot more tired than we believe is justified by what we accomplished during the day. This is because so much of our energy was spent trying to play an uncomfortable "role" and/or overcome barriers in our path. During our time away from such a job, we try to do things to help "recharge our batteries" so we can perform satisfactorily the next time. If required to do this over an extended period, it will sap our energy, leaving us with only enough to "survive" the experience. There is a fairly good chance we will not have enough energy left to do those other important things that make our life fulfilling.
The following are two key factors that affect our energy or Job Satisfaction:
Fit – The degree of alignment between the role we must play in order to be successful and the one we prefer to play has a direct effect on our energy. We have been told, coached, even encouraged, to prepare ourselves for a life of financial security. As a result, we tend to develop our knowledge and skills in areas that we think will allow us to make a "good living." Doing so does not necessarily mean that we are enjoying the experience. We sometimes feel absolutely "wrung out" at the end of the day.
Whether or not we have Job Satisfaction depends to a great extent on whether or not we are able to accomplish what we set out to accomplish while still "being ourselves." An important question is, “Can I perform successfully while doing things in ways that are most comfortable for me?” If not, am I willing to pay this “energy price” to meet my and others' expectations?
Support — The more challenging the role, the more support we will need to help us meet the challenge. This support can come from many sources, a very important one of which is the way things are done in the organization. There are ways things should be done (formal procedures), and there are the ways things are actually done (informal practices). To the extent that we believe that the procedures and practices make it easier for us to succeed, we will feel "supported." In this case, even if we find our role to be challenging, we may enjoy working in such a supportive environment.
If these procedures and practices erect barriers that make it more difficult for us to succeed, we will sense a lack of support. This makes our efforts far more tedious than necessary. The energy that we use to overcome these barriers could be devoted to more "productive pursuits." For this reason, it is in everyone's best interests for us to have at least enough support to compensate for the energy we lose while playing a challenging role.
These factors are very important in determining the amount of "fuel" we have for our journey toward the envisioned future. Answering the questions, "Can I be myself and be successful?" and"Do I have the help I need to meet the challenges I face?" tells us if we're in the "right" job and working for the "right" employer, respectively. If we answer both of these questions in the affirmative, we are "energized" and have Job Satisfaction. I believe this is the first step on our journey towards Full Engagement.
What do you believe? Let me know in the comment area below.