Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Are you in the wrong job?

Published:Sunday | April 2, 2017 | 4:00 AMTrevor Smith

Are you in the wrong job?

Not much has changed since the shocking Deloitte study that indicated that two out of every three members of the United States workforce were not engaged. I don't know what the situation is within your organisation, or even if you happen to be one of the two who are not engaged at work.

The commercial in which a general has to reveal a password to a wider audience and it spells out 'iHATEmyJob1', is very much to the point.

You will be surprised at the levels of the organisation to which low engagement goes. I was surprised when someone who aspired to the leadership of a creative and high-profile department, indicated that they did not feel inspired or motivated.

Another high-ranking professional indicated that they got by on the basis of sheer professionalism and discipline.

The reasons for low engagement in the workforce are many and varied. They also change over time, even with the same individual and/or organisation.

I am of the view that some of the challenges that individuals have with their jobs arise from the fact that it is not a good fit for them.

Why do people end up in the wrong job? What produces rounds pegs in square holes?


Many people end up in jobs by default. Some get hired because of a 'connection'. Others send random applications out and one of them bore fruit. Another group joins the family business as they are expected to. Some of those end up in roles for which they are not suited and for which they have very little enthusiasm. But guilt, loyalty and tradition keep them stuck there.


Financial needs push us to accept the idea that a job is a job. Get one and put food on the table. This lack of discrimination among jobs that neglect the importance of role fit, is a major source of round pegs in squares holes. This interest-role misfit has the potential to continue for extended periods as the need for money drives a level of performance that is sufficient to stave off dismissal. But there is a daily struggle, and job satisfaction is a distant thought.


Round-peg-square-hole misfits are not solely the fault of job seekers. Many organisations are guilty of poor recruitment and selection practices. Recruitment is not structured, and selection does not incorporate objective assessment.

The situation is compounded by weak onboarding and orientation methods. So, even if by chance the right candidate is selected, they are thrown off track by ineffectual induction into the organisation.


Circumstances change, and when organisations fail to plan and prepare for evolving developments, they end up with staff that is not able to effectively deal with the new situation and are misfits for their jobs.


1. Career guidance: Job seekers and their support groups must take greater care in identifying their interests and skills and work to match those to potential opportunities.

2. Structured screening: Organisations need to reflect on the cost of bad hires. There are substantial financial and other major costs to both the organisation and the applicant. They can be avoided by thoughtful and structured action. Approach each new hire with the rigour that would be applied to purchasing a new accounting system.

3. Vision and training needs analysis: Second-generation misfits can be kept to a minimum by careful forecasting of the talent needs of the entity. Examining future skill needs allows the organisation to prepare appropriate learning and development plans and equip or hire staff to address the requirements.


Appreciate the pain of someone who grinds daily through a job they hate! Choose wisely using objective assessments and career planning.

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• Trevor E. S. Smith is a behaviour modification coach with the Success with People Academy, home of the revolutionary FinxS Platform from Extended DISC. Hire smart with FinxS Behavioural Assessments. Conduct employee satisfaction surveys, 360 performance evaluations and team reports using logistics-friendly technology.