Personal Growth

Finding Happiness at Work

I recently asked a new hire how she was feeling about her new job, and she replied, “I love it. I had never considered doing anything like this before, but my friends tell me that it makes sense that I would like it.” This felt like incredible validation for our hiring process.

Through trial and error, and some hard lessons, I have come to believe that one’s innate talents and fit with an organization matter more than one’s personal skill set when it comes to one’s happiness and ability to be effective at one’s job.

Early in my career I lucked into work that suited me – teaching mediation! It drew on many of my natural abilities and I loved it.

A few years later, when moving to a new city, I applied for a job with an organization that practiced collaborative labour relations. My mediation and training background seemed like a great fit. And they were, to an extent. I had skills that transferred from one industry to another. However, I soon found that I wasn’t entirely happy in my new job. Although I had the right set of skills, I found that moving from a facilitative role (mediation and training) to an advocacy role required a different way of being and thinking. So some years later, when I had the opportunity to get back into facilitation and training again, I jumped at the chance. And once again, I felt good at work.

On the other end of the employment continuum, I have also been on two kinds of hiring committees. Type One focussed on skills, education and proven experience. Type Two focused on innate talent and fit.

After living with the results of those committees, I now see clearly how Type One can lead to unhappy, frustrated employees and employers, and how Type Two leads to satisfaction and happiness at work. When employees are hired for fit with both a position and fit within an organization, the likelihood of a satisfying employment relationship skyrockets.

So, how about you?
Are you happy at work?
Are there tasks that you do each day at work that bring you satisfaction?
Does your work draw on your strengths?
When you describe your job, do people say, “That sounds like a natural for you”?
Do you fit in?

If you are able to answer “yes” to these questions, you are probably happy at work much of the time. You are also probably effective at your job. The next time you need to hire someone, or the next time you are looking for a job, consider talent and fit. You will significantly increase your chances of being happy at work or bringing someone into a job where they will be happy.

Eric Stutzman, Managing Director
ACHIEVE Centre for Leadership & Workplace Performance

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