Job Satisfaction

“I’m having a ball up here tonight, y’all…and I’m at work right now!” – Mia Borders

If not an exact quote, it’s guaranteed close-enough to capture what emerging New Orleans musician Mia Borders thinks of her job.  Probably only somewhere in her mid-20’s, she seems to count these blessings in a way that exceeds her years.  She brings an obvious enthusiasm and passion to her work.  One that prominent business experts would counsel is a key to increasing job satisfaction in everyday corporate life.

Sometimes the best examples of life’s lessons appear in unexpected places.  Particularly at a Sunday evening show, with another Monday morning fast coming,  Ms. Borders’ comment no doubt struck a familiar chord with many in her audience.   However, as images of tour buses,  life on the road, and 24/7 time spent with co-workers come to mind, most in the crowd would probably agree the grass isn’t necessarily any greener in Mia’s world.  Nonetheless, there was something really refreshing about her comment and the way she seemed to her have her job satisfaction equation perfectly in balance.  It comes across in this (video link).

Not even a full week had passed before the Harvard Business Review published “Don’t Like Your Job? Change It (Without Quitting)” by Amy Gallo.  Apparently quite a few people really don’t like their jobs.  Or does this really mean that these are people who do understand just how fortunate they are to have a job in today’s economy…and more realistically view that there are a few aspects of their jobs they’d like to change or improve?  It’s the old glass half-empty vs half-full view….with the added twist here being one’s appreciation for even having a glass to hold in the first place!

In any case, the Gallo article really does a nice job in placing the ball back into every employee’s own court to take the steps they can to bring about positive changes in their own job satisfaction.  Gallo cites  “Turn the Job You Have into the Job You Want”  as a reference, which holds that employees usually have more leeway to make changes to their jobs than they may at first recognize.  “Looking at Yourself” first and foremost is the message Gallo sets forth – to more fully integrate interests, alter what we do, change with whom we interact, and otherwise find new meaning in what we do.

Just think of the collective spark that could energize our workplaces if more people started to head in this direction!

Core Strength

Corporate Rhythms

Seemingly disparate beats coalesce to form organizational rhythms. The effect has much in common with a communal drum circle. Some players solo, star, and soar.  A larger group continues to hold down the beat.  With changes in personnel, the collective ebbs and flows.  The beat goes on.

Complementary skill sets join.  We hear an emerging melody.  Some players center on a theme.  Others continue to explore wide open spaces.  Full melody emerges.  More players find the groove.  An increasingly amplified state ensues. Symphonic convergence has defined the corporate sound.

Business life is a rolling drum beat.   Listen and you will hear the sounds of predictively percussive repetition.  Day-by-day, people and organizations keep doing what they do.  Ironically, it can be harder to get people to stop doing things of questionable value than it can be to get them to start doing the right things more often.

Ask Darwin

Within Geoffrey Moore’s Dealing with Darwin framework, these corporate rhythms are known as context, while the emergent melodies are termed core.  Context is foundational work that on its own does not yield the organization’s greatest hits.  In contrast, core is what gives the organization its star power.  Focusing on core is how an organization achieves its competitive advantage and separates itself from the field.  Repurposing resources to concentrate on core is seen as the winning strategy.

Another one of Moore’s concepts is that product offerings and business architecture may fall into either “complex-systems” or “volume-operations” models.  Sometimes a previously integrated component within a complex-system breaks out to become a volume-operations model star.  Think of a computer chip that was originally part of a specific-use computing platform that finds its star market as an input for an entirely new group of products with mass consumer appeal.

While Moore’s work provides numerous company, product, and innovation type references, the beauty of our example above lies in its simplicity.  Drum beats equal context.  Through collaboration and teamwork, core is identified and subsequently mastered.  Innovation and collectivity have sparked a move from context to core.

Core Strength

Humans represent the world’s best known examples of Moore’s complex-systems.  People we know in a singular work context often have various skills, interests, and talents that remain hidden from view within their own inherent complexities.  Think of someone you know who very clearly excels in a given profession or functional skill area.  That very same person may possess other less visible but nonetheless highly significant areas of strength.  These may indeed be hidden gems of opportunity.

We will refer to this notion as having core strength.  It’s an intriguing and potentially rewarding concept to explore with respect to organizational development as well as in terms of unlocking one’s own potential.  This is especially true given today’s high state of economic uncertainty as core strengths often represent excellent foundations for new or next careers.  Explore the core!

photo credit – BMK, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Drum_circle_didacta_BMK.jpg

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