10 Ways to Help Clients Find More Meaning in Their Careers
By Lori Jazvac.
Dr. Viktor Frankl, a neurologist and psychiatrist, believed that the search for meaning of human existence, coined as “Logotherapy,” represented one of humanity’s most powerful driving forces. Translated into our world of career management, when clients lack meaning, they may experience career stress and anxiety. For employers, a deficit in meaning might produce higher employee absenteeism, high turnover, and low employee engagement rates. Dr. Frankl would explain that we have an “inner pull” to search for better opportunities.
We can see examples that support the pursuit of meaning in today’s world. Many unemployed, as well as gainfully employed, people are either disengaged at work or on a relentless search for a different job that provides more meaning. Workopolis reports that 51% of people stay in any role for less than 2 years. Only 30% of people stay in one job for more than 4 years.
According to Frankl, meaning in life can be discovered “(1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.” In Frankl’s words, “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Here’s how to help clients regain meaning in their careers through self-reflection:
- Encourage your clients to understand personal attitudes and perceptions about work. Help your clients to adopt a positive, balanced view of the changing world of work and their place in it. You can build a healthy mindset by helping clients understand what makes their career “unique” and how they can make a significant contribution.
- Assess your clients’ values. Help your clients align their core values with their career goals and path; this will increase their career satisfaction. Determine their driving motivators. Help them discover why they work and what type of organizational culture best meets their needs and values. Ask what makes them want to get up in the morning. Is it work flexibility? Stimulating work? Team leadership?
- Remind your clients of their unique promise of value and key strengths. Encourage them to keep a weekly log so they can track the progress of their experience and milestones. This will reinforce their positive self-esteem while helping them to stay focused.
- Help your clients create a strong brand identity. Questions like the following will help clients better determine their areas of expertise and their overall brand identity. What do you stand for? What is your personal motto? What is your overall brand identity? When you are at your best, how do you affect others?
- Encourage 360 degree feedback. Encouraging your clients to elicit feedback from their employers, family, friends, colleagues, and community members can be helpful. A well-managed 360 degree process will produce an objective picture of their values, offerings, and contributions for greater self-realization.
- Support your client by redefining their goals. Establishing and tracking SMART (specific, measurable, action-driven, realistic and time-bound) career goals will keep your client accountable in achieving them.
- Champion your clients’ higher pursuits. Motivate your clients to keep developing their skills, talents, and expertise in challenging and interesting areas that are outside of their comfort zone. This will spark creative ideas for doing their work as well, and stimulate their engagement, inspiring them to seek out new projects and initiate suggestions for improvement.
- Help your clients leverage trusted networks. Exchanging stories of triumphs, lessons learned, and challenges can serve as a bridge of hope, encouragement, and wisdom. Discuss the elements, resources, or networks that have proved meaningful in your clients’ careers and carve out a plan for rekindling these options.
- Ask your clients to serve as mentors. By selflessly helping others, clients can fulfill their sense of altruism to drive innovation and solve problems, while realigning their focus on a larger purpose that involves community leadership and team building.
- Avoid making rash decisions. Balancing logic with intuition is essential in career-related decision-making. Advise your clients to assess their goals, thoroughly research and weigh their options, and consider the consequences of their career choices.
- Bonus Tip: Change perspectives. Direct your clients to adopt healthy interests such as physical exercise or new hobbies to balance their work and personal sphere. This may help re-channel energies and spark refreshing ideas along with engaging career prospects.