What Motivates you at Work: Factors for Career Happiness!

Your dream job is another person's nightmare.    Don't worry about what jobs your classmates are pursueing, you need to chart your own course!

When I worked as a Business Career Advisor in Vancouver, BC, Canada I was given a great recruitment project from Starbucks Head Office...
Since ten years have passed, I can share this story with you. For those of you who may not know, Starbucks was founded in the Pacific Northwest - Seattle, WA to be exact. Vancouver, British Columbia is just across the border from Washington state and there is a Starbucks on every corner. On one corner of downtown Vancouver, there is a Starbucks on the Westbound side of the street and a Starbucks directly across on the Eastbound side of the street. Apparently, it is too much to ask - for commuters to cross the street.

Getting back to the story, I was so excited  about this great recruitment project which was going to employ about 15 of my students (assuming they passed the interviews). The lead required a student with a technical computer degree who could travel throughout the province, work independently and install their new Point of Purchase system at each store. Perk- all the free coffee/lattes you could guzzle. No boss monitoring you, generous allowance for driving mileage, paid cell phone and hotel and restaurant allowance.  I gleefully planned to present it to my students in a program meeting.The time came and  I presented it to the students. Immediately, I had several students complain?!! What type of lously job lead is that? I can't travel, be on the road, be away from my family. I don't like to drive. One student even said that he didn't like coffee! I was totally deflated. Luckily, other students were very excited about the opportunity. They were single, liked the freedom of the open road, the marquee company name, the technical challenges and the hotel/restaurant allowance!

Moral of the story - a nightmare job for one candidate, is a dream job for another.

What needs do you have as a job seeker? What are your preferences? What would make you happy? How can you differentiate between job offers? See the section below. The survey below was created for clinical, counseling use original chart.   However, I have adapted it for use in a career counseling context. I use this in client sessions and to sort through these careeer and personal motivators. Each of us will have different different balance of variables which can make us happy.

Sources of Motivational NeedsHow can each category of needs affect your happiness at work?

Behavioral
• Push vs Pull. Is it your goal to obtain desired, pleasant consequences (rewards, salary, bonus’)?
• Is it your goal to escape/avoid undesired, unpleasant consequences (angry boss, unhappy customers, failed projects)?
• Are you just running away from your current profession or are you genuinely attracted to a new profession?

Social
• Are there positive role models or people who you can emulate?
• How important is it for you to be a part of a group or a valued member of the work team?

Biological
• How important is your actual work environment: do you prefer a lively or sedate work environment?
• What do you like in your office? Does your décor impact the senses (taste, touch, smell, etc. decrease hunger, thirst, discomfort)?

Cognitive
• In your work tasks, do you like a low key or high stress environment? (ie: book-keeper versus air traffic controller)
• Is it important for you to do meaningful work or to understand why your contribution is important?
• How comfortable are you with uncertainty, changes and/or cognitive disequilibrium?
• Do you enjoy solving problems or making decisions, or would you prefer others do this for you?
• Do you like calculations or figuring something out?
• Do you prefer to eliminate threat or risks?

Affective
• How comfortable are you with conflict (increase/decrease affective dissonance)?
• Are you drawn to activities which increase good feelings?
• Are you drawn to activities which decrease bad feelings?
• Do you need a high level of work security? Do you attempt to decrease any threats to your self-esteem?
• Can you typically, maintain high levels of optimism and enthusiasm?

Conative
• Do you like to choose your own performance goals? Do you like to strive towards company-selected goals?
• Is your career choice related to your dream job?
• Do you strive to develop or maintain self-efficacy at work?
• Do you prefer to take control of your work life?
• Do you prefer to eliminate threats which impede attainment of your dream job?
• How much control would you like others’ to have over your career?

Spiritual
• How does your work relate to your life’s purpose?
• How does your work connect you to your spiritual or religious self?

Our social, emotional and psychological needs will impact our happiness and satisfaction with a particular work role. Your career path and career needs are unique.

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