Over the 15 years in my career, I have met quite a number of people. While every one is uniquely different, when I analyse their career goals and ambitions, I realise that most people belong to one of four groups. Unlike personality types, people can and will fall into different groups at different points in their careers.
The four common groups that I’ve identified are:
1. Those who know what they want and how to get them
2. Those who know what they want but don’t know how to get them
3. Those who don’t know what they want
4. Those who are just happy and content
Group 1: Those who know what they want and how to get them
This group is a dream group and sometimes I’m lucky enough to have people that belong to this group as my direct reports. People in this group are often high achievers but they are also pragmatic and have S.M.A.R.T goals. They dream big and they understand it takes hard work, a good plan, commitment and a little bit of luck to realise their dreams. People in this group inspire others and show others how it can be done.
Group 2: Those who know what they want but don’t know how to get them
People from this group know what they want from their careers, they might say they want to be a CEO, CTO, General Manager, Supervisor, Expert and so on. If group 1 is a dream group, we could say group 2 is a dreamers group. Just knowing what you want is not the best state to be in. Knowing how to get there, identifying steps that need to be taken, seeking help, experience, education and knowledge required are crucial to achieving goals. Therefore, having good coaches, mentors and managers really help people in this group as they can provide guidance and advice. Good news is that over time, with experience and right mindset, people in this group usually end up in the above group, group 1.
Group 3: Those who don’t know what they want
As a manager and a mentor, I’ve had a few situations where I asked others what they want, and I received a blank stare. When prompted, I often received the answer, “oh, I don’t know what I want, can you tell me?”. Earlier in my career, I’d think to myself, how could I possibly help someone if they don’t even know what they want for themselves. But as I have gotten older, I have also become wiser; I’ve learned that we can help people in this group if we take enough time to know and understand them and if they have the right mindset. Asking right questions, showing them opportunities, giving them examples can help identify what they might want for their career. This may seem like hard work but it can actually be quite rewarding to be a mentor or manager of people in this group.
Group 4: Those who are just happy and content
People in this group sometimes also belong to people in group 3 or are an extension of it, those who don’t know what they want, and that is because they are perfectly content where they are. They can also belong to group 1, they know what they want and how to get them so they have clarity and are perfectly happy and satisfied with what they are doing. I’ve actually worked with a few people like that and they respond well to genuine support in helping them refine their skills, becoming better at their current role and getting stretch assignments that are in line with their long-term goals. While being content with what you have is wonderful, I believe that happiness and job satisfaction are infinite feelings and there is always room to feel happier and more satisfied with your career.
Have you identified which group you belong to right now? As I mentioned earlier, we can fall into a different group at a different time. As for me, sometimes, I am perfectly happy and fall into group 4 but other times, I have strong desire to be more, to do more and to become a better version of myself, and when that happens, I find myself in either group 1 or group 2. It can be quite exhausting yet motivating. I don’t claim to be an expert in career development, however, knowing which group I currently belong to and my team members belong to had helped me adjust myself and provide the right support, and it is my hope that you find this article helpful for you too.