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What really matters to you?

Posted in Management @ Mar 19th 2015 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
What Really Matters To You

A version of this post appeared in the AVNJ Vol 19 No.3

I’ve been thinking about what makes people happy in their jobs in the veterinary industry. 

Why do some people speak highly of working in one organisation while someone else thinks it was their worst job ever?  It seems that like most things involving people, there is no right or wrong, there’s just different. 

And the big difference is often personal values.

Personal values are the guiding principles that you believe are important to have in your work and in your life.  These values guide you when making decisions, they determine your priorities and when they're different to the values that exist within your organisation, can be a source of unhappiness and stress.  For example if you value your family and spending time with them is important, then working in a job that involves working 70 hours a week, every week, is going to cause internal stress and conflict.  However if you value your career, enjoy working in a high pressure environment and don’t have the same family commitments then a 70 hour work week may be challenging and exciting.

Your personal values tend to be fairly stable although they don’t have strict limits or boundaries. 

As you move through different stages in your life you'll find you value different things.  You may start off enjoying the challenges of a job that requires a 70 hour work week but after starting a family you may start to value more flexibility in your job.

Similarly, the workplace values that exist within your veterinary practice set the tone for the culture of your organisation and they largely identify what is valued within the business.  

For example your workplace may value teamwork so a new employee who prefers to work alone is going to find the collaborative environment uncomfortable.  It’s no surprise that the values in your organisation are strongly impacted by the owners of the business, especially in a small business environment, and again you may find certain values changing over time due to management or ownership changes.

When your organisation values the same things that you do, then that can make for a great work environment.  Achieving a good fit between workplace and personal values seems to be becoming more important as workplaces become more collaborative and many people recognise the benefits of working for an organisation that offers such a fit.

So what does this mean?

Well it depends on how happy you are in your job right now.  If you love what you do and wake up each day looking forward to going into work, despite the inherent stresses that are a part of the veterinary industry then you may have found a workplace that offers a great match with your own personal goals – lucky you!

If you love your job but find your work environment stressful either due to the way the work is managed or the personalities involved then you may be working in a business that has a different set of values to your own.  The business may value behaviours and actions that are just not part of who you are.  This may be a sign that your workplace is not the right one for you at this point in time.

If you wake up and dread the thought of going into work and undertaking any part of your job then you may not only be working for the wrong business but you may  even be working in the wrong industry for your personal values. 

So what can you do?

The first step is to get to know what matters to you. 

What do you truly value?  There are a number of free on-line tests you can complete to help you understand your personal values. 

But to get you started here are some questions that will help you to understand what matters to you in a job:

  • How important are praise and recognition to you?
  • How much job security do you need?
  • Do you enjoy helping others?
  • Do you enjoy working alone or as part of a team?
  • Do you want to work with people?
  • How important is a large wage?
  • How important is flexibility in your job?
  • Do you enjoy change?

Spend some time thinking through your answers to these questions and you will start to get an idea of what matters to you in a job.

We spend far too many hours working to not be happy in our job and everyone deserves to be happy. 

The veterinary industry is tough – the hours can be unpredictable, the work stressful, the financial rewards low and on top of this, compassion fatigue is a very real threat.  It can also offer great personal satisfaction, the opportunity to do meaningful work and it’s almost never boring!  So the question is, how happy are you in your job? If you’ve recently started to feel unbalanced but you’re not sure why maybe it’s time to reassess the match between your personal values and those in your current workplace.   Keeping in touch with your values is a lifelong exercise so maybe now is a great time for a bit of self reflection. 

So tell me in the comments section below how you think your personal values have impacted on your happiness at work. 


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