Our thinking

Research shows we are not actively engaged in our jobs and also failing to see the need make a substantive change; we are often unsure of what we want to do next or how to articulate what we are looking for.

Career path

The art of knowing what makes you happy

21 March 2019

Now apart from referencing the Spice Girls and getting a cheesy song stuck in your head, knowing what we want is actually a pretty tough task.

Research shows we are not actively engaged in our jobs and also failing to see the need make a substantive change; we are often unsure of what we want to do next or how to articulate what we are looking for.

The Facts

The Gallup 'State of the Global Workplace Report' showed that 85% of the global workforce are not actively engaged at work. This is a significant problem when we consider the negative impact on employee productivity, idea generation and innovation. Gallup presents a number of strategies and activities to empower people across all levels, from societal to individually focussed, and is well worth the read. 'State of the Global Workplace Report'.

One key strategy identified to help face into the growing engagement challenge, is the need to build 'strength-based workplaces'. This involves giving employees more freedom to take on roles and responsibilities that will allow their natural strengths and talent to flourish. It suggests that employers will gain greater return from their employees by investing in understanding individual needs, building a culture of learning and re-inventing the workplace experience to meet the modern industrial landscape. In today’s work climate discussions, this is a certainly a theme we see emerging.

The approach may sound simple, however, it is of course plagued with big challenges. The problem often begins at an individual level, where many of us still struggle with knowing what we want to do and where we want to go.  LinkedIn Learning recently completed a survey and found that 37% of U.S. employees claim they have no sense of career path and 23% agree that they feel like they are on a treadmill going nowhere.

 Career Path Linked In

Creating meaningful conversations

The problem continues at a leadership and organisational level - we know that having a 'whole-of self' career conversation is a competence in itself as it requires:

  • Leadership capability and organisational focus and commitment.
  • Investment in self-awareness, including tools that offer robust insights and feedback that helps articulate career aspirations.
  • A workplace environment that is 'psychologically' safe and enables genuine and quality two-way feedback.

While organisational-led strategies need to adapt to meet the engagement challenge, as individuals we can begin to tackle the issue. We can commit to building our own self-awareness and understand why we are who we are, to ensure that we are clear and have the ability to articulate to others, with confidence, where we are headed and why.  

“Employees who use their strengths on the job are more likely than others to be intrinsically motivated by their work — simply because it feels less like work to them.” Gallup, 2017, 'State of the Global Workplace'.


So focus on what we want, what we really, really want!

Our work and research has allowed us to understand that gaining insight into our own desires and intrinsic motivators immediately enables a more robust dialogue in both professional and personal contexts. We need to be careful not to underestimate or undervalue the importance of time to reflect on who we are, what motivates us and learning how to articulate our aspirations, needs and preferences to others in a structured way. You can read more on our approach here.

So ask yourself what you really want out of your professional and personal life. Once you have completed your introspection and can articulate your needs and desires, feel free to finish it with a “zigazag-ah"!



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