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Fiona Reith, associate career coach

Our associate career coach Fiona Reith explains how being in a role that conflicts with your values can lead to job dissatisfaction.

What ignites a fire in your belly? What has you shouting at the TV in frustration? Or so moved you find yourself welling up? If you’ve had to stand up for yourself or others recently what was it that galvanised you into action?

The issues we care about most deeply are the core values and principles that underpin many of the choices we make in life, including how and with whom we spend our spare time and even the charitable causes we support. Living according to our values is what gives us a spring in our steps and motivates us to turn ideas into action.

Granted, this might all appear a bit woolly and disconnected from the world of work. However, when the values or mission statement of the organisation you’re currently employed by are out of synch with the stuff that’s most important to you, or your day-to-day responsibilities leave you questioning why you even bother clocking in every morning, the net result is a serious lack of job satisfaction. Indeed, people who are most content with their work or jobs are in careers where most of their values are being met. People who feel most unfulfilled with their careers hold values that conflict with their jobs or employers.

During the early years of our careers, gaining quality experience and decent earnings are typically some of the main drivers for City professionals and rightly so. But other factors might come into play too – gaining international experience often matters to those of you with a sense of adventure whilst fighting for justice might lead some of you to pursue a career in law.

In his book  ‘Drive’ business thought-leader Daniel Pink makes the scientific case very convincingly that, beyond a certain point, money is no longer a key motivator. Instead, values like autonomy (having the latitude to choose your projects or achieve results your way) and mastery (having the chance to specialise or learn something new) begin to matter more. Another way to look at values is to split them into working with others (team work, influence etc), self-expression (creativity, independence, career progression, excitement etc) and extrinsic reward (kudos, prestige, job security etc).

Your values ecosystem is constantly evolving and the pecking order will inevitably change as you gain more life experiences. Other common triggers that are likely to result in you re-assessing your values include marriage, starting a family, ageing parents, a life-altering illness, redundancy – the list goes on and trying to make sense of it all can for some become quite overwhelming meaning you struggle to convert your thoughts into goals and then action.

The Career MOT is great for helping you assess your values and whether or not you’re living them at work. Along with exploring your strengths, skills and interests we can help you pick out and define more precisely the values that might have become more of a priority now. Recent clients have found renewed satisfaction at work without necessarily big changes in direction by, for example, gaining a more flexible work/life balance when family come along or seeking out a less stuffy culture after realising they value this above more formal settings. Together as part of the coaching journey our career coaches can help you to formulate the strategy that makes it easier to search out or ask for the very thing that’s been missing all along.