The WHO of work – for WHOM & with WHOM

The list of interrogatives (who, what, when, where, why, how) always begins with “who” and when it comes to thinking about work, this really works!!!  WHO is a great place to start because it gets right to the heart of the matter when it comes to work – WHO do you want to help do what? Thinking about the WHO helps you to start to meaningfully break down some of the key organizing factors in structuring work.  We can think about the WHO in terms of WORK FOR – your sector or your field, the organization that you work for, or the particular communities that you serve with your work, or you can think about WORK WITH – your division, your organizational team, your colleagues.

Because these two pieces bear further explanation, I am going to treat each (FOR WHOM, and WITH WHOM) in separate entries in this series.  And for now, I am going to take the WHO as an invitation to tackle one of my favorite challenges: describing work.

I have tackled this a couple ways here on Career Linguist, though BRIGHTEN, and through the Career Profiles, but the central challenge here is in thinking about work, does the industry, or sector matter more than the function and tasks that you perform?  The answer is of course that “it depends.” Part of this process is to learn about what motivates you more – what pulls you  – industry, sector, organization, department, team, role/function, tasks, colleagues or clients?

Some ways to start learning about the WHO:

Ask directly about things like workstyle preferences in informational interviews.  You may even wish to bring Karen Newhouse’s diagram or Richard Bolles’ petals (the diagrams that inspired this blog series).

Pay attention to how people introduce themselves and their work (and include yourself in these observations).  What do they mention first – industry, sector, organization, department, team, function, tasks, colleagues or clients?  Which of these do they exclude?  Do they describe past or future constituent pieces of these?  What do you make of the patterns that you observe?

Begin at the beginning – to learn as much as you can about all of these aspects of work, I know of no better place to start than LinkedIn.  Starting with their list of industries, which is the most comprehensive of any that I have seen.

As a thought exercise, compare aspects of your dream job against one another – so for example, if your dream job is to perform the duties of a project manager at a particular organization, in a particular sector, see whether you can identify different people who are project managers at different organizations and sectors, then people at this organization who have different roles (and maybe different sectors?), and then a focus on the sector – what are all of the different worlds of work comprised in their “for WHOM.”  Which pieces of work remain most interesting to you?

So, see you here next Tuesday with more of the WHO, and in the meantime, “here’s to what’s next!!”