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Satisfaction Just Ahead

CEO or lowest person on the totem pole, we all want job satisfaction, right?

But what exactly makes up “satisfaction”? Take a simple snack-time example, …salty versus sweet. I’m a potato chip, popcorn type of craver, so cookies, candy, soda do nothing for me….they just don’t satisfy.

Although personal job satisfaction comes in a multitude of flavors; for the purposes of this article I purpose “job satisfaction” encompass feeling good about what you accomplish and how you accomplish our tasks and roles; including how you feel about the work done by others under your supervision.

Qualifications like education, experience, and general competence being equal, why might someone succeed and someone else fail in the exact same position?

Maybe you’ve had this experience; you’re qualified for the job, like the product or service the company peddles, get along with co-workers and management, yet something is off with your day to day work-life experience. With all it has going for it, and all you bring to the table, the position is still a poor fit.

Like a pair of jeans that are a style you like, in your size… BUT… you just don’t love’m. And, if you go ahead and buy’em and wear’em, they annoy you. You thought those jeans would be your next favorite pair, but they just didn’t live up to your expectations, and soon end up in the pile headed to the thrift store…take it away Macklemore…

Work translation: you accept the job offer/stay with the company/take the promotion and then you feel undervalued, bored and or stressed out… in essence you’re dissatisfied.

Or maybe you’re the CEO/Manager/Boss Person whose just hired what seemed a perfectly qualified candidate, yet they’re not living up to expectations.

Did you make a mistake?

The answer is No…and Yes!

No, because being qualified i.e.- having the necessary skills, experience, and demonstrated success can all be positive signs toward future success…and Yes, because there is more to success, satisfaction, and the fulfillment of expectations then skill, experience and company culture fit…

You could call the distinction between a seemingly good fit, and an in-reality, actual good fit conative. Conative, you say? No it’s not a misspelling. Heard of Conative? Maybe not, because the word went out of common usage long ago, but it could be the key to your satisfaction…and maybe a whole lot more…

Conative basically means the inherent way you work. Your natural modus operandi (MO) for action. Different then personality evaluations (Myers-Briggs, Big 5, Enneagram etc), or intellectual and or emotional IQ assessments; which all hold great value, yet can have little relevancy as to job satisfaction and or success in a position from either the employee or employer’s perspective. Skills, previous experience, EQ, IQ and personality describe who you are, not how you work.

Conative defines the HOW. How we work has the potential to dictate satisfaction and success. When we’re doing work that utilizes our conative strengths, we are in “the flow”. You know what I mean, time disappears, ideas and solutions come with ease, not meaning we aren’t working hard, it just a sign we’re using our natural conative abilities to their best advantage.

Imagine being “in the flow” all the time…

A couple facts about conative skills:

1. Everyone has them, there is no better or worse. There are only ideal pairings for roles, tasks and teams. This produces “flow” and flow=satisfaction.

2. Conative skills do not change with time. For a short time, we can all take on tasks and roles that are outside our conative strengths, but for long term success and satisfaction we need to be doing in ways we naturally excel.

Here is an example. Many job descriptions state they want someone who can work in a fast-paced environment. Straight forward right? But hold on, not so…fast…

Fast as in… a lot of the same tasks coming at an increasing rapid pace? Think: good at Wack-a-mole.

Fast as in… changing deadlines? Think: time-allocation, re-prioritization and reorganization of people, resources, processes, like a juggler.

Fast as in… needing to improvise or change directions at a moments notice? Or changing guidelines, ambiguity and making decisions with the clock ticking? Or thinking quickly on your feet…like a lawyer in a trial witha suprise witness. Think: Strategic like a chess player or a ER doctor. Exacting attention to detail, covering all the bases so nothing slips through the cracks.

These are all valid examples of fast-paced environments, but by no means do these examples use the same kinds of conative skills.

Please read this next part carefully (and 2x if you are in HR).

It is impossible (a.k.a NOT POSSIBLE) for one person to excel in all these variations…. it’s just not how we humans are built.

From a conative perspective, looking at position descriptions on many company and job websites reveals the pervasive lack of understanding as to the role conative skills play. When a long list of “required” traits crisscrosses so many abilities in ways that would be impossible for one human-being to posses, beware…this employer may be expecting the impossible.

And let’s face it, then there are those companies that simply use the description of “fast-paced” as a way to justify a wholly dysfunctional, disorganized, mismanaged business, under which no employee could truly succeed. Avoid these employer’s like the plague. Spot them by knowing your conative strengths.

On the other hand, if that same long list is accompanied by detailed descriptions, and acknowledges a successful candidate may have a percentage, but not all the traits from their list of 30; this company may well understand the role of conative skills – and be able to recognize your’s and the value you bring.

The great news is no one has to be great at ALL the variations, just a natural conative fit for the ones that best match the role. So you’re great at wack-a-mole, but what the company really wanted was someone who can restrategize on a dime…poor conative fit…even if you have the technical skills and befitting previous titles won’t end up in a happy match.

The Kolbe A Index documents conative skill across the spectrum of action – the HOW we do what we do. These fall under 4 headings:

Fact Finding – how you gather and store information.

Follow Thru – how you organize.

Quick Start – how you deal with risk and uncertainty.

Implementation – how you handle tangibles.

These four modes of action each have variations of engagement/interaction – how you take action from the perspectives of initiation, reaction, and counteraction. Stabilizing, modifying, innovating, systematizing, maintaining, adapting, strategizing, explaining, restoring, protecting or envisioning are the descriptors.

When you have an understanding of your personal conative dynamics, you effectively have a blueprint for satisfaction.The Kolbe Indexes provide detailed insight to help evaluate a positions, candidates, or team dynamics.When you understand the conative, you can better avoid missteps and steer the most direct course toward success.

Eitherway, knowing your conative strengths and being able to articulate them in ways relevant to the position by identifying tasks, goals and roles that best utilize your strengths, while equally bringing clarity to the tasks and roles best suited to team members with different conative strengths. This means expectations all around can be met, and everyone – employer and employee can end up satisfied.

We all have natural strengths that guide our most effective ways of being.

When we’re performing to our highest standards, giving the organization we work for our best results possible and we’re energized by the tasks and roles of our position, that is the foundation of satisfaction…

For further conative exploration (a conative geek-out) let’s connect and get you conatively