You may know this scene: an all-hands meeting where your organization’s executives share an exciting vision and strategic plan.  It looks bright.  It is exciting.  Many morale-boosting shout-outs are given to those in the room who will make it all come together.

The problem?  Your team gets nary a mention.

Your team’s work is important.  It is valuable.  But it is not getting a lot of “love” these days.

One or two omissions, and it is irksome but not a problem.  But over time, it becomes distracting and discouraging.   People begin to wonder if their jobs are a dead end.  And in a time where engagement remains low, this added challenge is not a welcome one for leaders.

Good leaders want to be able to support their employees’ careers, and when there is a strategic shift in the organization that takes them out of the limelight, it can be hard to respond to.

How do you help your employees grow their careers when their work isn’t part of the strategic vision?

Unless you work closely with the executives who decide and communicate these things, and even then, you may not directly influence the degree of emphasis given to your part of the business.

The benefits of doing work that aligns neatly with one of your organization’s strategic pillars are obvious.  Greater visibility.  Growth opportunity.  And likely, better resources.

But strategic imperatives come and go.  And strategic alignment is only one factor to consider when gauging career satisfaction and viability.  By helping your employees consider the full range of factors, you can help them thrive and find fulfillment even when the spotlight is not on their work.  Use the seven career gauges below to help your employees look more comprehensively at the question of career satisfaction.

Seven Career Gauges

These gauges broaden perspective on career success and fulfillment.  At different points in a person’s career, they may value some of these more than others, so it is worth reviewing these with your employees regularly.

1) Loving what they do. Does the work satisfy them and bring them joy more often than not?

2) Doing what you are good at. Does the work give them the chance to use their skills most of the time?

3) Being paid fairly. Are they earning a market-level salary?  Are they able to meet their personal goals and needs with their income?

4) Opportunity to learn. Are they learning new skills or new parts of the business?

5) Opportunity to contribute. Do they have the chance to lead or autonomously contribute to their team’s work?

6) Strategically imperative work. Is their work strategically important to the business’s future direction?

7) Societally imperative work. Does their work contribute to the greater good of society?

Your Opportunities to Influence

Your job as a leader is not to try to persuade your employees that they should value one of the gauges more or less than they do.  Nor is it your job as a leader to make a hard sell to them on any of the gauges.

You do, however, have the opportunity to look at these gauges for ways you can positively influence them for people, directly or indirectly.

For example, as a leader you can influence them directly by actively looking for ways to use people’s skills, offer learning opportunities, and influence pay decisions.  You can influence them indirectly by sharing reminders about the greater societal impact their work is making.

Conclusion

Strategic alignment is an important element of career success and satisfaction, but it is not all that matters.  As a leader, you can help your employees think more broadly about their careers and facilitate their way to more fulfillment at work.

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