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     Thousands of books and articles have been written on how to find or excel in a job. Jobs are simply arbitrary ways to package work and projects that need to be done to achieve the mission of an organization. Jobs are usually made up of a small batch of tasks in a given profession or trade.

Examples of Jobs/Positions:
  • bank teller
  • sales representative
  • fulfillment Coordinator
  • retail clerk
  • V.P. of marketing
  • security guard

    In small organizations, the job and the profession/trade overlap. One might perform all the practices required of a finance professional. In a large organization, a job in finance will focus on only one or two of the core practices of the profession – accounts payable, accounts receivable, or payroll. Consequently in large organizations, It’s possible to work for twenty years and only to have mastered one or two practices in a profession. This puts one at risk in a merger or downsizing.

When it comes to “career fit”, you want to examine the questions:
  • Do you have the competencies and skills required for the job?
  • Does the job leverage your personality?
  • Does the work align with your interests and passion?
  • Are you close to the customer?
  • Does the job stimulate your thinking and creativity?

    We usually take a job because the job description mentions competencies and skills we’ve acquired. However, personality and interests are rarely described in the job description. These days many people take jobs because of redeployment, scarcity of jobs, pay, or desire to stay in a certain location. Thousands of people in our workshops find themselves doing tasks they don’t enjoy. If you feel unmotivated or overly stressed, answer the questions above. You may find that you are in the right profession and right organization but wrong job. Or you may discover that you can negotiate with your manager and have more of what you like to do in your current job – using your natural talents and interests. This new energy will be good for the organization as well as for you. Jobs can be reinvented with a willing manager. Your performance will improve.

Other causes of "misfits" between the YOU and the job include:
  • People want to work in certain companies, and are willing to take any job at all to get their foot in the door.
  • Recruiters do not always tell the truth, or do not know the job well, so people take jobs with false expectations.
  • People have been more challenged in school or previous jobs, and are quickly disappointed, because the entry-level jobs are not challenging. More senior people are given the challenging jobs.
  • As people mature, marry, have families, and settle down, they have broader concerns than just their work. They’re willing to compromise some satisfaction with their job for other values.

Research shows that “misfits” for people early in their careers are between the YOU and the job. Whereas, “misfits” later in careers usually occur between YOU and their organization or industry.

Be True to Yourself
     We’ve defined the seven variables that comprise the inner circle (YOU) of our work lives as well as the four variables that comprise the outer circle (ENVIRONMENT). Our research shows that our personality and interests CHANGE VERY LITTLE IN OUR LIVES. It’s though we are hard-wired. Our values change slowly, and mostly in terms of priorities. So it’s critical that we understand ourselves well and appreciate our uniqueness. Our personality traits and interests are very difficult to change. On the other hand, learning and enhancing professional skills, business skills, team skills, and leadership skills is possible daily.

     Unfortunately, we frequently are unhappy and de-energized because we don’t have the right interests, values or personality traits for the job or organization. When choosing, we need to take all these variables into account, especially the ones that are hardest to change. We frequently “take the job” because we have the right skills and experience, not necessarily the personality, interests or values alignment.

     Being yourself is only possible when you choose environments (positions, organizations, industries and professions) that respect and value your uniqueness. Work to see that your interests, values and style are in sync with your choices. Put together feedback and learning plans to assure that you develop the competencies and skills required for the work you’ve chosen. Maximize your energy to achieve performance success by assuring a strong “career fit.”

     Find your strength - quick wit, heartfelt compassion, thoughtful questioning, business sense, opportunity seeking, historical awareness, or ability to draw. Build on them. Look for opportunities to use these natural talents in work. Expand your strength. Seek the environment that nurture and reinforce those strengths. You will become stronger and stronger, feel energized and peak performance will come naturally.

About the AuthorCaela Farren, Ph.D., is President of MasteryWorks, Inc. in McLean, VA. She has been a consultant, entrepreneur, and educator for over 30 years, Caela has worked with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide to get them on their mastery path. Caela’s practice and company builds strong links between changing trends in industries, changing strategies of organizations and the talents and aspirations of individuals. People who work with her company discover their passion, their mastery path, and bring renewed contribution and high performance to their organizations.

Caela is known internationally for her expertise in developing talent management products and services. Her solutions are user-friendly systems that serve the needs of both organizations and individuals. She is frequently quoted in the media regarding her thoughts and advice on changing careers and work patterns in the nation. Hundreds of organizations have implemented talent management solutions from MasteryWorks, Inc. — consulting, workshops, assessment instruments and web-based talent management portals.
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Choose Work that Fits YOU: Maximize Your Performance
by Caela Farren, Ph.D., MasteryWorks, Inc.
     As employers ramp up their search for talent and raise the performance bar, individuals need to be more choiceful about their work. You continue to change. Organizations change. The job or organization you originally chose may no longer suit you. High performance and lower stress rest on knowing yourself well and choosing work environments that fit you.

     A great career fit is like finding the perfect pair of shoes. They “fit” YOU – length, width, arches, support, material, etc. They fit the ENVIRONMENT you’ve chosen them for – running, dancing, climbing, walking, hiking, etc. When you have the right shoes, your energy, enjoyment and performance increase. You can run, climb, dance, play tennis, walk, or hike with great ease and enthusiasm. So, how does this metaphor apply to one’s career and performance?

     Each person is unique in the universe. We have a unique identity – evident in our finger print, our retina scan and DNA code. This uniqueness is not only physical but also psychological. Each person is pre-patterned in certain ways. There are special activities and settings where you feel comfortable. Others where you feel uneasy. The more clearly you can appreciate and articulate your uniqueness -know yourself - the more wisely you can make smart career choices. You will choose environments (organizations, jobs/projects, professions/trades, and industries) where you can BE YOURSELF and perform well. The MasteryWorks CareerFit™ model helps you assess yourself and make educated career choices.

     Thousands of participants in our workshops have learned to use this model to reassess existing work or choose other career options. They have agreed that when there is a poor “fit”, as described in this paper, they feel depressed, lack energy and have to work harder to perform adequately or above what’s expected. When they feel like they “fit” the work they’re doing, they feel energized, productive, and fulfilled. They’re in the flow.

CareerFit™ Framework
     This model defines critical elements of a career and demonstrates the subtle interaction between YOU and the ENVIRONMENT of work. You choose the Position, Profession, Organization, and Industry in which you work. Some of who YOU are is pre-patterned – your style and interests, especially. Other aspects of YOU change and are learned through education and culture – your values, competencies and skills. Both YOU and YOUR ENVIRONMENT work together to create a harmonious “fit”. The better the “fit” between YOU and those settings you choose, the happier and more productive you’ll be. 

The CareerFit™ Model
You - The Inner Circle
     You and your identity are changing – some aspects more than others. Answering the question “How Am I Unique?” clearly, and from a variety of vantage points, is important. The more you can learn about and articulate the seven variables in this model, the smarter you can be in choosing work environments that “fit” you. These are the seven critical areas of self-knowledge that will help you make smart career and work choices. We’ve noticed in our work, that many people don’t have clear definitions or examples of these important elements. This model empowers people to make the choices and changes that provide a better quality of life and work.

Personality Traits/Style
    Personality can be defined as the relatively enduring combination of traits which makes an individual unique and, at the same time, produces consistencies in his or her thoughts and behavior. There is a pattern to your self descriptions – how you do what you do.

Examples of Personality Traits:
  • intuitive
  • analytical
  • compassionate
  • entrepreneurial
  • decisive
  • thoughtful
  • aggressive
  • timid
  • outgoing
  • flashy
  • political
  • social
    Personality has been widely discussed in the literature. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a well-known assessment tool. It is based on four preferences that are combined to give your personality type.
    Personality traits have a huge impact on success and performance evaluations. They are mostly innate and don’t change much. For instance, a social, gregarious, outgoing, intuitive person may do very well in a sales or customer service position but not enjoy an analyst position. Such a person thrives in social situations. What comes naturally for such an individual would take immense personal energy for a more quiet, introspective, thoughtful person. Yes, such a person might figure out a way to be successful in a more gregarious environment but not without enormous energy.
     Values can be defined as those beliefs or principles of a person or social group in which they have an emotional investment (either for or against something); these are guiding principles that help in making decisions and taking action. Values provide a rudder for our choices and movement.

Examples of Values:
  • integrity
  • honesty
  • family
  • compassion
  • social justice
  • non-violence
  • wealth
  • power
  • winning
    Every organization has a set of lived values. We call this organization culture. Research suggests that as we mature, living in accord with our values becomes more and more pressing. A person may choose to leave an organization that conflicts with his or her values of family, honesty, integrity, fun, challenge, or innovation. It’s important to note that organization values change when new leaders show up. You may have joined an organization with one set of values and now find yourself in a very different organization culture. You are more likely to feel proud of an organization that fosters and rewards values similar to your own.

    Interests can be defined as those activities that stimulate curiosity, involvement, mental or emotional activity, passion or intense feeling. We talk about having an interest in a certain activity or vocation. There is a magnetic attraction between you and certain activities. They draw you in and absorb your interest.

Examples of Interests:
  • inventing
  • acting
  • building
  • landscaping
  • mathematics
  • helping people
  • teaching
  • writing
  • researching
    John Holland organized interests into four main categories – people, ideas, data, and things. We find this to be a helpful categorization of activities and have created an assessment instrument with 52 activities, organized into the four categories. Using the deck of cards or on-line version, individuals can determine which of the four interest categories contain activities they enjoy. (See TALENTSORT® Interest Cards Assessment )

    Individuals frequently get a strong “ahah” when they see that they may be spending the predominant amount of their time working in activities that really don’t interest or attract them. Individuals who like working with facts and figures (Data) might be spending most of their time with working with People. Or, individuals who love working with their hands (Things) spend their time supervising people or in administrative tasks. This lack of “fit” becomes an energy drain. Individuals can change jobs or negotiate tasks in their existing jobs to better fit their natural interests. This shift can result in higher productivity and less stress. Sometimes the “misfit” requires a job change or profession change.

     So you can see how these first three elements can shed light on why a person doesn’t “fit” a certain situation and consequently isn’t performing at the top of their game.

     Scarce human resources is one of today's facts of life. Therefore, it's more important than ever that the unique talents we have "fit" the work we're doing.

Business Skills
     Business Skills re those generic competencies, skills, knowledge and behaviors required for success in most work situations and organizations. They are highly transferable.

Examples of Business Skills:
  • communication skills
  • problem solving
  • conflict management
  • getting results
  • business acumen
  • writing
Professional Skills
     Professional Skills
are those competencies, skills, practices and knowledge areas that are unique to a profession or trade. They are less transferable and critical for mastery in a profession or trade.

Examples of Professional Skills:
  • IT - testing, software development, network administration, database management
  • Sales - client management, proposal writing, costing, contract negotiations
  • Carpentry - choosing materials, working with carpentry tools, understanding properties of different woods
Team Skills
     Team Skills are those competencies, skills, practices and knowledge areas needed to work effectively with groups of people, on projects, in formal and informal team settings. MasteryWorks has developed a tool that categorizes team skills into four competency areas–

  • generating and refining ideas;
  • building group esprit
  • organizing and integrating work; and
  • managing boundaries between teams and customers (See TEAMSMART Assessment Cards and Guide)
    All four competency areas are needed for team success. Some are more important at different phases of projects than others. In working with thousands of managers and employees, the category of managing boundaries was missing as a key strength in over 90% of those individuals.

Leadership Skills
     Leadership Skills are those competencies, skills, practices and knowledge areas required to achieve missions, implement strategies, and build a culture of learning and innovation.

Examples of Leadership Skills:
  • building alliances
  • strategic planning
  • managing results
  • facilitating change
  • developing people
  • innovation
    Many of our performance management forms and competency models focus on Business and Leadership Skills. Oftentimes, the unique Professional Skills are not listed as requirements for positions. Generalists have become more predominant than specialists. We believe that this is causing a global and national breakdown in many organizations due to the lack of depth and mastery of core professions and trades in the industry.

     Business skills, professional skills, team skills and leadership skills are learnable. Much of our formal and informal education centers on developing our skills. Each position, project or profession requires a certain proficiency in all four kinds of skills. These are frequently the main elements in a Job Description.

Environment - The Outer Circle
     Our “career fit” framework suggests that when YOU are in sync with your ENVIRONMENT, your productivity and energy increase. This is the source of engagement. The ideal is to choose work settings that “fit” YOU.

     Our Web of Work model displays the way work has been organized since the Industrial Revolution. Our way of organizing work derives from the need to satisfy twelve basic human needs. The needs haven’t changed much since the beginning of time. However, advancements in civilization and technology have given us new ways to address these basic needs – consequently new professions, industries, organizations, and jobs are emerging.
The Web of Work Model
     Professions and trades are the most enduring part of the Web of Work. They’ve evolved to take care of the twelve basic needs. Historically, people in the community or tribe emerged and were mentored to take care of these basic needs – health, shelter, security, learning, family, leisure, etc. People spotted and groomed young people who would learn their craft. Today, we’ve separated learning from working, so the natural mentoring and development in the professions and trades that occurred historically is often left in the hands of people detached from the work itself. (This is more true in the professions than the trades!) Frequently teachers have little or no relationship with their students, with little chance to observe their natural propensities for many trades or professions. Consequently, the focus of much of education is to prepare young people to “get a job” more than “find a profession or trade – a vocation” – that suits the individual and takes care of the community.

     Professions or Trades are recognized areas of expertise that are enduring and substantial. They are broad areas or disciplines that have recognized leaders, educational programs or apprenticeships, professional associations, and publications. It takes ten to seventeen years to master any profession or trade. There are a distinct set of competencies and skills required for mastery of any profession or trade. This is what distinguishes one profession or trade from another – the core practices.

Examples of Professions/Trades:
  • interior design
  • marketing
  • architecture
  • biology
  • painting
  • computer science
  • auto mechanics
  • education
  • accounting
  • counseling
  • carpentry
  • photography

    Some professions and trades will naturally fit you better than others because of the seven variables we’ve discussed earlier. Of course, at some level we all know this, but people make funny choices. Why? Because their father or mother always wanted them to be an “X” or a “Y.” Or, they chose a job and just happened to land in a profession. Unfortunately, thousands of people work for years in the profession their parents chose for them before choosing their own profession. The more you know about yourself and the professions or trades that interest you, the smarter your selection will be.

When it comes to “career fit”, you want to examine the questions:

  • Does this profession take care of a basic human need you care about?
  • Are you in a position that will enable you to enhance your mastery of the profession or trade?
  • Are mentors or teacher readily available?
  • Is this profession or trade valued by the organization leaders?

     Professionals and trades people cluster together for learning and development. Historically we had guilds, today we have industries. We define an industry as a cluster of organizations and professionals working together to take care of one or more basic needs -health, leisure, family, learning, economic security, community, transportation, social relationships, home/shelter, environment/safety, etc. This focus impacts the spirit and character of each industry. It also determines the kinds of professions and trades required.

Examples of Industries:
  • entertainment
  • healthcare
  • energy
  • construction
  • aerospace
  • equipment
  • publishing
  • travel
  • government
  • security
  • food services
  • environment

When it comes to “career fit”, you want to examine the questions:

  • Is your profession core or secondary to the industry?
  • Do your values “fit” the primary purpose of the industry?
  • Is the industry growing or shrinking nationally? Globally?

    Different industries require expertise from different professions or trades. Your profession will be core to some industries and secondary in others. Keep your eyes open. If you’re in a secondary profession and a merger, acquisition or redeployment occurs, you are more likely to be at risk.

     The more closely aligned your personal mission and values are with the focus of an industry, the happier and more challenged you will be. If you care about the environment, you will be more energized in those industries and organizations that are going “green.” This would be true whether you’re an accountant or an environmental scientist. Our values “fit” some industries better than others. When there is a “misfit”, we may feel unimportant, devalued, at risk, or lacking in integrity. When this happens, it takes much more energy to be a high performer.

     Taking care of the needs of our civilization requires joint action. People come together to achieve goals they could not attain by themselves. We define organizations as a group of people joined together for a specific purpose. Someone has a vision that becomes the organizing theme (“a computer on every desk”) or a larger human need or problem (Katrina) becomes the organizing force for thousands of people to achieve a specific mission. The mission or vision is the organizing principle of any organization. If that becomes fuzzy, lost, or unclear, energy dissipates and people no longer feel the emotional energy leading to innovation, breakthroughs, and major achievements.

Examples of Organizations:
  • e-bay
  • AT&T
  • the local PTA
  • Chicago Bears
  • Cleveland Orchestra
  • Fox News
  • SW Airlines
  • CapitalOne
  • Wikipedia
  • AARP
  • Safeway
  • The U.S. Mint
    Some organizations are temporary while others last for many years. Some include thousands of people while others are small, comprising only a few.

When it comes to “career fit”, you want to examine the questions:

  • Do the values and culture of the organization resonate with your own values?
  • Is there a clear, compelling organization mission?
  • Does the mission motivate you?
  • Do the strategies challenge your learning and creativity?
  • Is your profession/trade core or secondary to the mission of the organization?

Many organizations post their values on their website. However, the real culture and values of the culture and values of an organization show up in what’s rewarded and what’s frowned upon. Pay attention to assure that what’s important to you is really valued by the organization – work flexibility, access to leaders in the field, mentors, appreciation of differences, etc. Look at what’s rewarded on a day-to-day basis. Be sure that your values are in alignment. Do you feel good about the work you do? If not, you might feel an energy drain. You may be in the right job, in the wrong organization.


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