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Friday, July 25, 2014

Are You Satisfied With Your Career?

"Are you satisfied with your career?" asked Joan Black, CFRE, a highly experienced and respected fundraiser based in Calgary, Alberta.

The small group of us around the table smiled.

"No, that's a real question," Joan said. "Are you?"

The five of us were participating in strategic planning for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Foundation for Philanthropy-Canada at their annual summer retreat. Gradually, most began to answer her question, but I didn't know what to say.

At another point in time, I would have answered, "Of course, yes." I work in the charitable sector. We do good work. We do noble work, according to Archbishop Desmond Tutu!

What does "satisfied with your career" really mean?

To define this for myself, I turned to my favorite job satisfaction measurement tool, the Gallup Q12. This is a list of 12 yes or no statements that are indicators of job satisfaction.

Preliminary question: what are the elements of "my career?" 
My career is not just what I get paid to do; it includes what I do in my volunteer life, too. In my case, my volunteer work is equally, sometimes more, important to my paid work.

The 12 questions (modified a little)
Q1: In the last year, I have had opportunities to learn and grow.
Q2: In the last six months, someone has talked with me about my progress.
Q3: I have a best friend at work.
Q4: My associates are committed to doing quality work.
Q5: The mission of my organization makes me feel my job is important.
Q6: In my work, my opinions seem to count.
Q7: There is someone (in my career) who encourages my development.
Q8: Someone (in my career) seems to care about me as a person.
Q9: In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
Q10: At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
Q11: I have the tools I need to do my work right.
Q12: I know what's expected of me at work.

I can confidently say that I can answer "yes" to having a best friend at work (#3); my associates are committed to quality work (#4); I feel like my work is important (#5); and someone seems to care about me as a person (#8). But the other questions, I'm on the cusp. Some of this I can control--I can find opportunities to learn and grow (#1); I can acquire new tools to do my job (#11).

The others require outside feedback. I was surprised that I couldn't honestly answer "yes" to many, until I separated my paid work and my volunteer work. I could answer "yes" for my paid work (#6, #7, #9, #10), but not for my volunteer work. Since both my paid and unpaid work are equally important to me, I realized that I need to examine and rearrange what I do for my service.

I didn't expect to be so self-reflective as a result of an organizational strategic planning session, but I am grateful to Joan Black and our session facilitator, Juanita Gledhill, MCC Group, for triggering my introspection.

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