Job, Career, or Calling?

iStock_000006641794SmallHow do you view your work? Is it drudgery? Is it somewhat benign, somewhat engaging, or possibly even inspiring?

Most employees see work as a job, a means of funding life’s necessities. Some employees see work as a career, a profession they can contribute to for years. A very few see work as a calling, an avenue for meaningful contributions in service to others.

Jobs are a dime a dozen. People change jobs all the time. When one isn’t particularly engaged at work, there isn’t much lost when moving from one job to another.

A career brings a deeper level of commitment and engagement. A career requires long-term involvement, learning and progressing in skills over time. It’s a profession that requires investment of time, talent, and sacrifice.

Over the course of one’s career, one might work at a number of different companies that provide avenues for professional growth and development.

A calling is the deepest level of commitment and engagement. A calling is a purpose-driven, meaningful pursuit to improve the quality of life of others. It’s a service-oriented, heart-aligned, inspiring avenue. It may take years to discover your calling. Once you find it, time flies. Engaging in your calling recharges you and inspires you to your very core.

Some employees never find a calling in their workplace. They may find their calling outside of work – or they may never find their true calling, at all.

What causes employees to see work as a job, a career, or a calling? Leaders have a tremendous influence on employee’s perceptions of their work. Specifically, the leader’s plans, decisions, and actions, day in and day out, can make employees see their work as one of those three “levels” of inspiration.

Do leaders pay attention to their powerful influence on employee perceptions? Not really. Most leaders spend every waking moment on their product or service – developing them, marketing them, getting them into customers’ hands. Leaders put more thought into their products and services than into crafting a safe, inspiring team culture for employees.

Yet culture drives everything that happens in their organizations.

How can leaders ensure their work environment treats team members with respect and dignity, that inspires great performance, deep engagement, and WOW’ed customers?

Leaders do so through the creation of an organizational constitution. An organizational constitution is a formal document that outlines the business’ purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals.

Once these expectations are mapped out, leaders must model, coach, and reinforce them. Leaders must invest as much time and energy in team values and citizenship as they do in managing results. By doing so, they create workplace inspiration – not workplace fear and anxiety.

If team members are consistently treated with dignity and respect by bosses and peers, they actively engage in the success of the business. They apply discretionary energy. They have fun. They love serving customers.

Employees who act like that, who are engaged like that, feel called to their work.

Workplace inspiration doesn’t happen casually. It takes intentional effort on leaders’ parts, every day. Learn more about how an organizational constitution can change your culture for GOOD with my free ChangeThis manifesto, titled, “What? Your Organization Doesn’t Have a Constitution?

Add your comments, insights, or questions below. How do you see your work – as a job, a career, or a calling? What are you called to do on this earth?

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway: the Great Boss Assessment and the Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

My new book from Wiley, The Culture Engine, guides leaders to create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. Get your free sample chapter here.

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