By Jur Kester
Who am I? What makes me happy? What makes me feel fulfilled and motivated? What kind of impact do I want to make?
At the end of 2021, I asked these questions to 25 young professionals. I wanted to learn more about their ambition, passion and drive in order to find out what is needed to make young professionals happy, fulfilled and motivated.
When you think about it, it's pretty hard to describe who you are and what makes you happy, fulfilled or motivated. Let’s give it a try, starting with myself, also a passionate young professional.
I have always been very fortunate in life including being supported by a loving family, studying at a private university, and traveling all over the world. You can consider me part of the group with 7 vinkjes. I am privileged and get many opportunities.
Belonging to a team and being appreciated for who I am makes me happy. I don’t want my daily routine to solelyconsist of meaningless and boring tasks. I want my work to add to the overall mission, which I believe should be bigger than filling the pockets of shareholders. This mission of the organization I work for should align with the impact I want to make: to guide and support businesses to make the world a better place.
Although my answers were different from the answers of the 25 young professionals I spoke to, the underlying themes were similar. I identified three essential themes that make us happier, more fulfilled and more motivated.
It’s not the perfect job that leads to fulfillment, it’s the people. During the pandemic we lacked opportunities for real connection with colleagues, it made us stuck to our daily tasks which we most of the time found not very fulfilling. We are happy when we feel the connection with like minded people and together work towards a common goal. The self-worth we receive from being part of a team and being recognized for it is much greater and deeper than the self-worth we would receive from driving a fancy company car.
We have many great ideas and we want to see if they work, but we are not sure how and when. For us to speak up, the environment should be psychologically safe. A misconception of our leadership is that because we have a reasonably healthy work environment, it is psychologically safe. In reality, psychologically safe environments are rare and should be consciously fostered. When our leadership would show vulnerability and honestly say ‘we don’t know’, space opens up for us to step in.
Our job should be meaningful, but honestly, we don’t really have a clue yet what that means. We want to make an impact, but we are not sure yet how. We haven’t really discovered what makes us intrinsically motivated because for obvious reasons we lack experience. Therefore, we choose a job that is supported by our parents and friends, but doesn’t intrinsically motivate us. After a while we recognize something is missing, this feeling grows and eventually makes us decide to leave. Sometimes this cycle repeats itself multiple times before we find something that really fits. Instead of checking boxes and moving on to the next job, we should first discover what truly makes us happy, fulfilled and motivated. A journey of self-discovery to find out what intrinsically motivates us would save us and the organization a lot of struggles.
What should organizations do
In the conversations with young professionals, several suggestions were made for our organizations to take action in:
What should we do
We should not just wait for management and HR to organize inter-company projects to let us connect with like minded people or wait to make impact a priority by including it in our personal KPIs. We should not just wait for a seat at the big table or for the psychological safe environment to magically happen. Just like management and HR, it’s our responsibility to step up and take initiative.
Better Future organizes a young professional leadership day on the 20th of May in Rotterdam called LEADING EPIC SHIFTS. In this full day program young professionals from many different organizations come together, we are going to discover what makes us intrinsically motivated and we will translate this into an actionable plan for our current role and organization. There are still spots available, so if you are a passionate young professional, join us!
Want to learn more about the young professional leadership day: email@example.com