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Reflections from Melissa Sassi: Six Considerations to Avoid a Job that Sucks

By Melissa Sassi posted Fri October 15, 2021 12:59 PM


I recently read an article from Jeff Saperstein’s 6 Guidelines for Finding Flexible Hours & Rewarding Work So You Can Stay Away From Awful Jobs that includes some interesting research and insight from Google’s Dart Lindsley. In the article, Saperstein reflects on the necessary building blocks of what we hire our jobs to do for us. His article highlights the six elements that unite the world around why we do what we do in our jobs or why we choose to do what we do…essentially why WE hire OUR EMPLOYERS when we agree to take a job.

I always heard that we should interview our future bosses and companies as much as they interview us when we go in for a job interview but had never thought of the concept as something beyond the hiring process. Reading this article and subsequently talking with both Jeff and Dart, I realized something that has created a fundamental shift in how one should see the employee-employer relationship.

In short, we are all customers of our employers and we are not only inputs into equations that bring about output. We are, in a sense, customers of our employers. We expect value to be created in our career journeys. If that value ceases to be provided by our employers, then I may consider “hiring” another company that can provide us with more value. What a fundamental shift in how we look at the future of work, right?

Here is a short recap of what Jeff included in his list and my reflections on each of the six factors noted in his article.

  1. Autonomy

I absolutely need the freedom to set my own hours and define my own path to reach the goals not only defined by my employer, but I need to have the ability to achieve my own personal and professional goals in life. According to Jeff, the more autonomy you have, the happier you are. I absolutely agree with this point. I am not sure how I would survive if I had someone else determining my daily pathway and way of working. I have been down that road with “the bad boss” in my career. It was no fun at all, and thankfully my current work environment is in “the good boss” zone.

  1. Mastery

According to Jeff, we must all feel as if we are building skills and competencies that are deemed of value in the workforce and to the world. This, for me, also rings true. As a learn-it-all who advocates for my own opportunities for mastering skills, I also instill this in others. As we all prepare for the future of work, it remains clear that we must all be lifelong learners with a commitment to bettering ourselves on a variety of fronts, including what I call the trifecta of skills: (1) digital skills and readiness, (2) professional skill development or habitudes (habits and attitudes), (3) entrepreneurial spirit. More on this concept in a future blog post!

  1. Progress

I constantly need to feel that I matter to the world, and for me, that often comes through hard work, progression against my goals, and achievement. While reaching milestones prescribed by my employer is important, it rings true that I must also achieve my personal growth goals or I feel less fulfilled as a person.

  1. Purpose

I do a ton of talks on weaving purpose and passion into the job where you wake up in the morning and feel fired up to start your day. This, for me, is a must. I spent ten years of my life working in a job that did not wake me up in the morning and it took me another few years to align my purpose and passion with my work…something I can say that I finally have achieved. While such alignment is important, it’s also quite stressful to realize that your hobby from way back when is now your actual day job. When people ask about my hobbies, I now struggle talking about other things that work. This might be the downside of being so fired up that you lose interest in activities that cannot be called hobbies anymore. Wait, does this make me less interesting at parties? Hey, what can I say? I get to make the world a better place in my day job, so why can’t my job also be considered a hobby?

  1. Values aligned with interest

I have been in a job where my interests were not aligned to my job, and boy was that boring and mundane. There is now a fire in my eyes when I speak about my projects, achievements, and day-to-day activities. I cannot imagine now being put in a position where my interests were misaligned with my job. Again, Jeff is on point in this respect as well.

  1. Choose a listening organization

I must be heard when I voice my aspirations, frustrations, pain points, joys, ideas, recommendations, and whatever else I might share with those around me. I have also been in environments where I did not feel seen or heard, and this is frustrating on many levels. It made me feel like I did not matter and/or my ideas were not good enough…I was an imposter who did not belong in my seat at the table. While I may still suffer from imposter syndrome from time to time, I am thankful to be part of a team and organization that listens even if I may not get 100% of what I want all the time.

What do you hire your job to do for you? Check out Dart’s research, and do not forget to take part in his survey that’s all about hiring your job to fulfil your needs and aspirations in life.

Expect to read about what I consider to be the Trifecta of Skills to Master in my next blog post, which dives deep into the skills necessary for the future of work…what should you be doing when you explore the concept of lifelong learning and being future ready.

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Your Chief Penguin,

Melissa Sassi
Chief Penguin, IBM Z
Student & Entrepreneur Experience