Career Advice: Coaching By Cath

Enrich Your Connections; Enrich Your Work
01/06/2012

Applying for a new job or making a career change can be a scary leap that tests our personal confidence. We've all come across those rah-rah seminars where the motivational speaker excites the crowd and gets everyone to "build a power state" by jumping up and down and shouting a song or mantra loudly so that they can feel more confident. I've always found that sort of thing a bit disturbing. And as a life coach, it bothers me that some people think that's what I do for a living, and that life coaches are just about cheering people on to go after their dreams: "Yes, you can!" I call that cheer-leader coaching and I don't offer that service...

Some of the latest statistics on recruitment are claiming that between 50% and 70% of jobs are filled through networking, before the posts are advertised. If you want to progress your career, you need to be developing your networking skills, but that's not the only reason to get connecting in the workplace.

Mr Maslow would say that connecting is one of your basic needs
Go 'ol Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a staple theory in the world of motivation and he posits that we have different needs that we're motivated to fulfill and those needs sit on different levels. Maslow says we're driven to satisfy the "lower" level needs first, and will have great difficulty satisfying the higher level needs, like self-actualization, if the needs sitting on the levels below it are unmet.

Creative pursuits and the other elements of autonomy, mastery and purpose that Daniel Pink recommends need to be in place for you to enjoy consistently high levels of motivation and performance at work are all about the pursuit of self-actualization - the highest level need. And so Maslow would say that you have to be fulfilling the other lower level needs first, including your needs for physical comfort, safety, love and belonging and esteem, to be able to be successful at self-actualizing. From the perspective of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, fulfilling our need for connection is a box that has to be ticked before we're able to begin trying to create autonomy, mastery and purpose for ourselves.

Connecting improves your creativity, attitude, critical thinking and learning
Besides higher achievement and greater retention, cooperation tends to result in more of the following results when compared to competitive or individualistic efforts: (reference: Johnson & Johnson, 1989):

  • Willingness to take on difficult tasks and persist, despite difficulties, in working toward goal accomplishment. In addition, there is intrinsic motivation, high expectations for success, high incentive to achieve based on mutual benefit, high epistemic curiosity and continuing interest in learning, and high commitment to achieve.
  • Long-term retention of what is learned.
  • Higher-level reasoning, critical thinking, and meta-cognitive thought. Cooperative learning promotes a greater use of higher level reasoning strategies, moral reasoning strategies, insight and critical thinking than do competitive or individualistic learning strategies.
  • Creative thinking. In cooperative groups, members more frequently generate new ideas, strategies, and solutions that they would think of on their own.
  • Transfer of learning from one situation to another (group to individual transfer). Group-to-individual transfer occurs when individuals who learned within a cooperative group demonstrate mastery on a subsequent test taken individually. What individuals learn in a group today, they are able to do alone tomorrow.
  • Positive attitudes toward the tasks being completed. Cooperative efforts result in more positive attitudes toward the tasks being completed and greater continuing motivation to complete them. The positive attitudes extend to the work experience and the organization as a whole.
  • Time on task. Members of cooperative learning groups do seem to spend considerably more time on task than do students working competitively or individualistically.
  • One of the most common objections to working collaboratively and co-creating is that it takes longer, and as the final point shows, this is probably true. Connection and co-creation increases motivation and creativity and gets better results in the end, but it does take more time. This isn't a problem if you're focusing on doing what matters most, rather than trying to do everything, so using the co-creation model relies even more on being able to prioritize your projects. Connections are also a really important way to ensure that you have a live network that you can reach into and find great opportunities and get the edge on other applicants by having personal contacts when you're wanting a career or job change.

Get connecting
Connecting is one of the best ways to develop your career and secure the jobs you want. Perhaps more importantly though, connecting is core to your sustained intrinsic motivation, your learning, the quality of your thinking, your creativity, your positive mood and your overall performance.

So how connected are you?
And how could you improve the quality of your connections so that you can improve your motivation, mood, creativity, thinking and performance? For more on how to improve your motivation and do your best work, check out The Bottom-line on Drive over at Cath's Bottom-line Bookclub.

Author: Cath Duncan

Cath DuncanCath Duncan is a life and leadership coach and CareerJunction's resident Career Coach. Through one-to-one coaching and projects like the Bottom-line Bookclub, Cath helps people learn the Agile Living Strategies for thriving at work in this high-change era.

Read more about Cath | Get in touch with Cath

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