Why wrong role fit and exhaustion go hand-in-hand, and what to do about it

We all know at least one person who when asked how they ended up in their job reply by saying something along the lines of “I just kind of fell into it” or “circumstances led me in that direction.”  

You may even feel the same way about yourself and your own career. 

 Even if you have achieved success within your chosen field, if that job is not a good role fit for your skillset, chances are you will feel drained by it, because the effort and energy you are expending just to get things done will be so much greater than in a role more aligned to your abilities, where everything comes more naturally and is not forced.  

Most of us will have at least one aspect of our job that we need to work a bit harder on or do more training in to develop a skill that doesn’t come naturally to us. But when there are multiple aspects of our role that we don’t inherently like doing but must do  frequently, that’s when it’s time to consider whether that path is right for you.  

Career mobility is vital, as it helps align the right people with the right role. Organisations that manage to achieve this perform at a much higher level because they have a happier and more engaged workforce who really enjoy what they do, as opposed to finding aspects of their role a constant struggle and suffering as a consequence.  

Recently, I was introduced to a registered training organisation that wanted to provide a new range of training options on their curriculum. They were interested in evaluating whether our technology at AbilityMap could be applied at the front end of their process, where potential students were considering which area of work they should be pursuing. 

The organisation could see that if they defined the capabilities that were needed in each of those different areas, and a student did what we refer to as an imprint (where we use a series of questions and tasks to evaluate their abilities in different areas), they could identify and notify the student on which course of study most aligns with their inherent strengths.  

An independent consultant was appointed by the training firm to coordinate with us.  

She said that in order for us to work together, she needed to understand the imprint. We agreed that the best way for the consultant to get a true sense of the value of the imprint was to undergo the evaluation process herself.  

Within the imprint, there are 31 capabilities that broadly describe all the things people do from a human standpoint in the world of work. Typically, people have a distribution of strong inherent capabilities and areas where they don’t perform as well because it comes less naturally to them.  

The consultant had an imprint with a very normal distribution. However, when I showed her the areas in which she had strong inherent preference capability, it was in areas such as understanding other people’s needs, working within a team, building networks, managing safety and risk, and displaying consistency.  

When we looked at where she had low inherent capability, it was in business acumen, influencing and persuading, leading others, handling authority, setting goals and achieving plans.  

She was incredulous. Although she agreed with everything we identified in terms of her strengths, the areas where we found inherent weakness essentially matched the description of the skills required in the job she had been doing for the past ten years of her career.  

But just by having a simple conversation, we established that even though she had acquired the skills to be able to perform her role, it had come at an enormous personal cost.  

“Can I ask you a tough question,” I asked. “Are you happy doing what you do?”  

I could see that with her scores being so low in a number of core areas of her role that she must be working really hard to be able to perform her duties. 

That’s when the breakthrough came.   “Mike, I’m so exhausted and I’ve been exhausted for years.” 

This didn’t come as a surprise to me. I mean, she even scored low on operating independently, and she was an independent consultant! 

The thing is, sometimes we just need someone to point out what may have deep down been an inkling that we had all along but were not willing to accept because of the implications that acknowledgement may have on our career.  

But by being open enough to subject herself to the same evaluation that potential students would undertake, she gained a fascinating and valuable insight into her own choices, and we were able to have a genuine conversation about what this meant and how she might ultimately discover a much happier and more fulfilling work life.  

That is every bit as applicable to a student starting out on their career path as it is to someone deep into their working life. Even more so, because imagine the profound benefits to wellbeing of both individual and organisation when the right person is in the right job.  

It’s never too late to re-evaluate your career and it’s never too early to chart the right role fit for a future career. I’m proud that we’re helping people and organisations prioritise role fit every day. 

Role fit is vital, contact AbilityMap to help your business align the right people with the right role. 

<a href="https://abilitymap.com/author/merlin/" target="_self">Mike Erlin</a>

Mike Erlin

Mike Erlin, based in Sydney and a native San Franciscan, is an experienced technology executive across education & industry across North America & Asia Pacific. He’s built and led high performing teams for some of the globe’s most innovative and successful human capital technology companies. Prior to AbilityMap, Mike led Cornerstone OnDemand’s (CSOD) ANZ business for the Enterprise & Mid-market/SMB solutions.

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