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About Vocation

Written 1985.

vocations

A person’s happiness and satisfaction in life is a function of how he perceives work. People perceive their work in three general categories: jobs, careers, and vocation. People who perceive their work as a Vocation report the highest Satisfaction with Life in general.

A job is just a means of earning an income. When people have a job they look forward to breaks, quitting time, the weekend, holidays, and vacation. Outside of working hours, little or no thought, time, or energy is devoted to the work.

The word “vocation” comes from the Latin vocare, or voice – meaning to follow the voice of God, or to do what we are called to do. Young children know their calling but the System of Education and often their Parents make it very difficult for them to follow their Heart.  The main reason is that schools and many parents limit the vision of the child to a specific Career.

The word “career‘ has its origins in the Latin word for a Race-Track. A career is a race and the sad thing is that in a race only one person wins and many lose. People become highly frustrated and demotivated when they realize that they will not win the career. When this happens their work changes into a job or they start to look for their real vocation.

The most important difference between a Vocation and a Job is Direct Feedback. When you are a Nurse the positive response of the patient is the reward you are looking for. When you are an Artist or a Craftsman the enthusiasm of your customers for your product is a stimulus to move on. It is not strange that people who are experiencing their work as a job spend a lot of time in contexts (e.g. a soccer-club) where direct feedback is happening.

During the Industrial Revolution work became dehumanized and compartmentalized. Every worker controlled a small part of the production chain and/or was totally controlled by the production chain. The Feedback between the Result of the Work and Work is almost completely disappeared. Humans need Feed-Back. This is the main reason why the Employees in a Burocratic Factory Organization consider the Manager of their Career, their Boss, as their most important Customer.

When you want to understand Your real Vocation You could visit a Vocational Psychologist.

The creation of Vocational Psychology is linked to the emergence of the large commercial cities in which the factory system changed the keystone of the economy from agriculture to manufacturing. The factories needed specialized workers to operate and maintain the machines. The factories were managed by the principles of Scientific Management developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor. Scientific Management, the extreme drive to work Efficiently, is still the driving force behind the Automation of Work.

child labor

During the Industrial Revolution many young man left the countryside and went to the big cities to find a job. They worked 10 to 12 hours a day, six days a week. Far from home and family, they lived and slept at the workplace. Outside the shop open sewers, pickpockets, thugs, beggars, drunks, lovers for hire and abandoned children created a non-secure environment.

YMCA History

The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was founded in London, England, on June 6, 1844.

The YMCA created Dormitories, Gyms, Swimming pools, Bowling Alleys, Meeting Halls, Employment Bureaus, Libraries, Psychological Tests, Training Courses and Vocational Guidance Programs for the workers in the factories.

One of the important products of the YMCA was the Find Yourself Program that was transformed into a book by C.C. Robinson in 1912.

General Electric, the major manufacturer of light bulbs, had preliminary evidence that better lighting of the work place improved worker productivity. In 1924 AT&T’s Western Electric Hawthorne plant located in Cicero, Illinois, was chosen as the laboratory. The scientists detected that work was not only a physiological activity. The huge interest of the management in the workers of the Hawthorne Plant simply increased their productivity. This was a break with the Scientific Management School that saw work productivity as “mechanical”, and led to the decision to learn more about the psychology and the personality of the worker.

John Holland began his career as classification interviewer for the Army. In 1959 he published his Theory of Vocational Choice, in which he first described Six Types of Vocational Personalities.  In 1969, he and his colleagues at the American College Testing Program discovered that the Six Types fit a circular ordering of correlations called the Holland Hexagon. John Holland discovered that work is an Expression of the Personality.

Realistic people like well-ordered activities, or enjoy working with objects, tools, and machines.

Investigative people like activities that involve creative investigation of the world or nature.

Artistic people like unstructured activities, and enjoy using materials to create art.

Social people enjoy informing, training, developing, curing and enlightening others.

Enterprising people enjoy reaching organizational goals or achieving economic gain.

Conventional people enjoy manipulating data, record keeping, filing, reproducing materials, and organizing written or numerical data.

There is a strong relationship between the Holland Codes and other “circular” personality theories like the Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, The Big Five and the Worldviews of Will McWhinny. Statistical research shows that the spread between the different personality types is almost constant. Personality Types are also inherited from the parents.

Since the development of the Holland Hexagon in the seventies the statistics show a high stability in the nature of occupations. The often discussed dramatic shift in the nature of work is not apparent in these data.  Although employment in the Investigative area, the Researchers, doubled over a period of 40 year it remained only 6% of employment. The Realistic Work Type, the Craftsman, has still the most occupational titles and the largest number of individuals employed. The Artistic Work Type (the Creators, 2%) has the fewest occupational titles and the fewest number employed.

What is Happening?

Work is an Expression of the Personality and the Personality is an Expression of the Work a person is Performing.

Personality Types and Work Types are distributed according to an almost constant distribution.

Personality Types and Work Types are inherited from the Parents.

The distribution is Not Without Any Sense.

There are Many Workers (Sheep) and just a few Shepherds needed.

Somebody has to Take Care of the Shepherds and the Sheep.

Somebody has to Keep the Books.

The Mythics, The Creators, The Artists, the Goats, Shape the Future but it takes a long time before the Sheep and the Shepherds follow the Creators.

The Creators (2%) are extremely Obstinate and Willfull. They want to take Care of Themselves, don’t accept any Leader or Helper, don’t care about Bookkeeping and Money and don’t want to Collaborate. They just want to find out Everything by Themselves.

The Creators are always remembered when they are dead.

That’s Life.

LINKS

About the History of Work

About The History of the YMCA

The History of Vocational Psychology, Mark Savickas, David Bakerf

A Short Introduction in Vocational Psychology

About the Hawthorne Effect

About the Big Five

About the Enneagram

About Myers-Briggs

About The Statistics of Myers Briggs

About the Holland Hexagon

A  Holland perspective on the U.S. workforce from 1960 to 2000

A Holland Perspective on the U.S. Workforce from 1960 to 1990

A Beautiful Visualization of the Changes in the Workforce between 1890 and Now

About Mythics and World Views

How the Baby Boomers stopped their own Revolution

The Baby Boomers when they were Young
The Baby Boomers when they were Young

When I started to work in 1976 I never heard of something called HRM. My boss hired me.

He discussed my salary and gave me the assignments.

The salary of my colleagues was a secret. I also did not know why my salary was raised. It just happened.

Three years later I was promoted to manager (group leader). I was very surprised this happened.

My new manager (called a section leader) handed me the files of my employees. I had to take care of them.

They contained many secret documents about what the former managers thought about the employee. At that time the managers talked about the employees in complete secrecy.

We, the New Managers, did not like that. We opened up the secret files, destroyed the “not-objective” data, standardized the data and put the data in a Database later called a HRM-System.

Suddenly I was the one who was responsible for hiring and firing. Every group-leader was different. I was always very open to my employees. We worked as a team to create and maintain software-systems.

I loved to program and design and I never felt the need to stop this. Managing my group was simple. It took about 1 day a week. In this day I had to attend meetings with other managers.

Other group-leaders (mostly much older) were spending all of their time managing their group. I soon found out that they were really managed by their group. They were unable to resist the informal power of some of their employees. When the new salaries were fixed some of them got a lot of money. This became known in my group and I got into trouble.

Why is he paid more than I am paid? He is really doing nothing!

I went to talk with my colleague but he did not want to talk. I talked with my section-leader and I found out that my colleague was his personal friend. He “covered his ass“.

At that time there was a big difference between an employee and a manager. When you became a Manager you became part of an Elite with its own Privileges and Culture. The most important Rule was that people of this Elite always covered the ass of the other members. We, the New Managers, did not like that and we started to destroy the Old Management Culture.

The other group-leaders experienced the same situation. We started to talk about this issue at our Section-meeting. After many discussions we went to talk one level higher (the director). The end result of all our actions was a revolution. We removed all the old powers and took over.

This also happened when I was a student. I was part of the baby-boom-generation that reorganized society. We were the revolutionaries that wanted to create a better society based on the principles of the new age of Aquarius.

Now almost 30 years later my old colleagues and I have created a System that is blocking everything they stood for. Just like my section-leader they want to stay in power.

The Baby Boomers when they were Young
The Baby Boomers when they were Young

The big difference between 30 years ago and now is that the New Revolutionaries have to change a (Software) System. It is impossible to detect the Human Cause of all Evil.

We,  the Baby-Boom Managers have standardized almost everything. The Systems have taken over Control and the Sad Thing is that almost nobody knows what the Systems are really doing. They live a Life of their Own.

It is almost impossible to reach consencus because many many specialized managers are involved and they all defend their own territory. The Sad Thing is that almost nobody knows what their Territory really is about.

Everything is Magically connected to Everything Else by the PatchWork of Overlapping Systems. A Problem in One Area suddenly comes back in a completely different Area.

The only way to accomplish something is to play the Game of Politics. To play the Game of Politics you need to make friends and you have to stay in the right coalition.

To do this you sometimes have to abandon your friends to reach the Goal. The effect is that nobody trusts nobody anymore or friends are covering the Ass of their friends. The effect is that many incidents are covered up. The effect of the cover up is that many people don’t know what is really happening or (worse) many people know what is happening but discuss the issues in a secret place.

The effect of this is that many people are not working at all. They are gossiping all the time. The effect is a loss of productivity and the only Solution we can think of is to implement more Systems.

The most important effect is a Change of Focus. The focus is directed inside the Company and not outside the Company. Outside the Company somebody is providing the money to play the Game. He or She is called the Customer.

The Systems have transformed the Customer into a Standardized Object stored into a Computer.

The Systems have completely Blocked the View on the most important Asset of a Company, the Human.

What Happened?

We developed a system that wanted to treat Everybody the Same Way.

How did we do that?

Step 1: Classify what everybody is doing (programming, designing, project-management …).

Question: When somebody is capable of everything (a talent) what do you do?

Answer: Always start with the lowest classification in this way people believe work is moving Up.

Step 2: Define a Career Path.

Step 2.1. Define Low (junior), Normal and High (senior). Take care that this is a normal distribution. If you do that people keep the believe that a Senior is better than a Junior!

Step 2.2. Define importance. A designer is more important than a programmer. Manager is more important than designer.

Question: Why is a something more important than something else?

Answer: Something is more important when we pay a higher salary. If we do that people start to believe that money is the most important motivator.

Effect: Everybody wants to become a manager because a manager is the best! The negative effect is that a manager does not like the employees in his department who are better. They are his competitors.

Step 3: Define a test to prove you are allowed to move to the next level.

Question: What defines a talented programmer?

Answer: He has finished his training.

Effect: Employees have to spend a lot of time to pass exams. Training becomes more important than experience. People start to act out of the book.

Step 4: Create specialized departments (Training, Security, Data Management, ..).

To save money we started to train people outside the company. The teachers did not have any experience. They knew what was written in the books that were written by people that did not have any experience in the field they were teaching.

Later the teachers changed into consultants and started to tell the employees and the managers how to do it. Doing the trick is easy. Inventing new tricks and implementing the new tricks becomes very difficult. You have to convince many managers.

Effect: Innovation is tricky bussiness. You have to take a risk and when you fail you are out of the carreer-race. Old approaches are implemented with a different name.

Step 5: Create departments that are testing if the employees are doing what the trainers told them to do (Quality Management). When they don’t do what the trainers told them to do we just don’t promote them.

Effect:

Everybody is Equal.

I hope you see what I am trying to show you. By treating everybody the Same Way we finally have created the Same People.

The top (talent) and the bottom (sick, problems at home …) are gone.

We have Equalized the Population.

The steps 1 to 5 are not the only steps. The System has improved itself all the time.

Before the division employees took care of other employees. We have designed a special approach to take care of the sick and other causalities. This has given them a negative status.

The effect is that some of them deteriorate and others are afraid to tell what the matter is. They go on when they are sick or they ignore the problems at home.

The effect is more problems at home and/or stress-related diseases (Burn-Out).

We have divided managers in groups. Some of them manage resources (!) other use the resources.

The effect is the loss of the team-mentality.

We have divided resources into internal and external resources. We hire them from a specialized company.

The effect is a loss of company-pride a higher level of the team-mentality.

We have automated almost everything to speed up efficiency. The effect is that we have to know the number (the unique identifier) to know about people. We are unable to enter unique information about a person. They are standardized on a higher level.

We have created a special department called HRM. They are managed top-down.

The effect is that at every level we are unable to create a unique solution for a unique situation.

The Baby Boomers when they were Young
The Baby Boomers when they were Young

What To Do?

Work in teams.

Start to talk with the employees again.

Be honest and open.

When you feel somebody is special give him a special treatment. Explain this to everybody.

Don’t be afraid to take responsibility for what you have done. Admit mistakes.

Don’t store everything in a database. Forgetting something is a positive thing. It makes is possible to start all over again.

Don’t specialize too much. Get rid of all the departments that are too far away from your primary process, servicing the customer.

Rotate. Don’t keep a person too long in a specialized job. Give experienced people a change to teach or to specialize but never keep them in this job for long.

Stop politics. Never allow that people are playing games with people. Fire people who are playing dirty games.

Surprise people. Don’t plan careers. Give everybody the idea that everything is possible.

Stop the gossiping. Give everybody a change to tell what they don’t like and listen.

Demote. When somebody is incapable to do his job give him the job he is capable of and give him the salary of the job. This stops the expectation that everything always has to move up. When somebody gets into trouble when he is demoted make an exception.

Give employees a chance and the time to help other employees.

Don’t hire too much people outside your company. Give priority to teach your own employees to learn the trick of the outside specialists.

Give your own people the time and the tools to innovate.

Hire outside specialists to do the things that are already stable and repeatable or better automate these activities. They are most of the time very boring. This is a very usefull indication to use IT.

LINKS

About Long Term Cycles

About Vocation

About the Calvinistic Work Ethic

How to Destroy your Company by Implementing Packages

How the Baby Boomers were Educated

About Knowledge Workers

About the Effects of the French Revolution

Why the Industrial Revolution was a Social Revolution

About the Struggle of the Classes