Why So Many Are In The Wrong Job

Written by: Alan Rodway

We contend that a lot of people in Australia are in the wrong job. Can that be proven? Probably not, but we suspect a lot of people would agree (those in the wrong job, those around them and those who employ them). So, what does ‘in the wrong job’ mean? Our definition is that someone is in the wrong job if they are not naturally inclined to exhibit the behaviours that could be regarded as high performance (and therefore don’t contribute to the overall success of the business nor its achievement of its fundamental purpose/s).

Note the words ‘naturally inclined’ in our definition. If someone is in the right job they are naturally inclined to exhibit high performance behaviours, do the things they should for the business to succeed. Those behaviours come naturally to them. Think about that … behaviours that come naturally and that the person wants to exhibit … as distinct from

behaviours that are resisted or require much higher levels of self discipline. The person is in the right job in the former case and the wrong job in the latter.

At this point, you may be thinking that it’s not a perfect world and this commentary is idealistic and impractical … “people need jobs and employers need employees”. To be blunt, it’s this total acceptance of imperfection that causes and perpetuates the problem. People in this country choose where they work (in the main) and employers choose who works for them. The hard fact is that both parties are often poor at their selections and part of that stems from the acceptance of the flawed principle of need rather than aspiration. If we accept that it’s just a job, people need them and employers need employees then we will continue to get significant imperfection across the board. It’s people who strive for a purposeful career and employers who hold out for people who will connect to their fundamental purpose/s who achieve so much, financially, emotionally, personally and professionally. They refuse to just go to work or to just have an employee.

People who work full time spend more time at work than in any other part of their lives. People who own and run businesses do the same and invest so much into their businesses, in so many ways. To not make every genuine attempt to have people in good fit roles is insane. Everyone benefits. It’s the not trying part that is so difficult to understand.

Employers too often choose employees at wrong times, too quickly, according to wrong criteria, only when they ‘need’ them, and subjectively. Employees too often choose the wrong job or stay in the wrong job, through perceived necessity, lack of perceived alternatives, thinking too short term or lack of commitment to their passions.

People often see their passions in life as being unrelated to their careers. The fact that it’s most of our lives makes that an absurdity. Surely it’s a basic tenant of career enjoyment and achievement to relate it to our passions in life. Someone who loves being with horses will long to finish the day if behind a desk. Someone who is creative will watch the clock doing data entry. People seem apprehensive to even ask the question what they are passionate about and then dare to relate that to their (potential) career. If you don’t want to go to work make your passion your career. So, why don’t more people do that? Primarily they don’t think they can earn an income from occupying their time in their passion … that’s only true in the short term but it is not true if it’s give enough time. Or they don’t think they are good enough at what they are passionate about … that is never true. The fact that passion exists inevitably brings about high performance. The real question is whether an income can be derived from your passion in the years to come … and that will be a yes if you give yourself enough time to set about making it happen … by taking the steps required … what you have to learn, practise, get to know, etc. Employers are just as guilty because they leave people in obviously wrong jobs for too long, sometimes for reasons of perceived integrity and sometimes for reasons of practicality. Neither stack up in the long term.

Surely, it has to be a most basic tenant for any business’s success to get people into the right jobs and just as surely it has to be a most basic tenant for any human being in Australia to find their way into their ideal career. Both are possible. It’s when we think we can’t, that we can’t.