What do you need from your job?

I’ve had a number of reasons to think about work lately, the role it plays in my life and what types of work I find fulfilling. Juggling multiple clients, sometimes failing to juggle multiple clients, going back into the office last fall, etc. When I was younger, if you’d asked me what I needed from a job, I would have said “enough money to live on, something that will keep me from being bored, and a sense that I’m making a difference in the world.”

Somewhere along the line, though, I’ve either developed or realized a different set of needs. I took management courses in my graduate programs, but I never could figure out how I was supposed to apply any of those theories in reality when I found myself managing others. But as I’ve experienced more and started to realize how much people differ in what motivates them, I’m wondering if I wouldn’t find some of those materials more meaninfgul.

So here’s what I need from a job in order to find it satisfying, as far as I can tell right now:

  • I need to have a lot of work to do most of the time.
  • I need to feel like I am responsible for something, and that my taking responsibility for that thing takes weight off of someone else.
  • I need to help make things run better. I need to figure out solutions to organizational systems problems, and I need my input to be taken seriously. I don’t always have all the answers, but I’m really good at this, and it kills me to not use those skills.
  • I need to have a big picture understanding of how things work, even if my piece is very small.
  • I need to work with other people as a team, where everyone is focused on how we can all work together to get the job done.
  • I need to work for and with people with high standards for themselves and those around them.
  • I need to know that if I make a mistake, someone will notice and tell me directly, so I can avoid making that kind of mistake again.
  • I need to always be figuring out ways to do my job better.

How about you? What makes a job good for you?

6 thoughts on “What do you need from your job?

  1. Lorri

    Ditto and…

    I need to feel as though there is always room to learn something new. Once I know how to do everything about my job, I always go looking for another.

    I need to know my work is valued in some way. Just a compliment here and there keeps me focused and knowing that I make a difference in the workplace.

    I need to have interaction with people. I think I would go crazy if I did not speak to another person all day or that I was coding in isolation all day.

    I think that is about it. If you don’t mind, I would love to show your list to my manager. We have been trying to set some goals for the Art Buyer position and this will help tons.


  2. Bonnie

    Even in an entry level position, I need to be treated like an adult and not like I’m brain dead because I’m in my twenties.

    When under the supervision of a man or a significantly older woman, I need to know they don’t think of me as their daughter, but as their employee.

    I need to be given responsibility and trusted with it, without someone constantly double checking everything I do.

    These are things that I run into constantly, and it doesn’t help that I have a young face, so it’ll probably be happening even when I’m thirty five. People make assumptions when they think you’re young and dumb.

  3. Grace

    That’s a really good question. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately too. For me, the most important thing is to be given a task and then left alone to do it as I see fit, not micromanaged.

    In a perfect world, though, I’d have a job where I had complete control of my own time, so that doing things faster than most people do would become a benefit and not a hindrance.

  4. Fragrant Liar

    What makes a job good for me? Well, depends. If we’re talking about my day J.O.B., that would be a simple appreciation for a job done well, and frequently above average. Being taken for granted seems to happen when you’ve been in a job for any length of time.

    My first inclination was to say passion, but that really applies to writing and related activities like blogging. Writing is my first love. What makes that really good for me is when I’ve got an idea that gets me excited, and I feel like I can really do something worthwhile with it. Being in flow when writing is THE BEST. And of course, when people read what I’ve written and they enjoy it, that’s the ultimate payback.

    Still dreaming of a full-time writing gig, doing my own writing and not someone else’s.

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