Over the course of my work as a Career Coach and Trainer, many graduates and job seekers have sought my assistance to find a job. Some of them were not specific as to job they wanted. When I probed further to find out the kind of jobs they wanted, some would respond, “any job.” Their responses implied that they had no idea of their dream jobs or assignments but were willing to begin from somewhere.
A job is ‘whatever (task) your hand finds to do,’ usually to meet basic needs, but an assignment is what you dream or desire to do, in fulfilment of your purpose in life. For some people, their jobs could be compared to slavery – not dignified and financially unrewarding. For others, their jobs may be financially rewarding, but may not be their dream or assignment in life.
Everyone usually begins work with a job, and gradually transitions into their assignment. Some may have to quit their jobs to transition into their assignments as entrepreneurs or founders of organisations. Majority of people change their jobs or departments to switch into their assignments, whereas others change organisations or employers to get into their ideal place of work for their assignments. No matter how and where you begin your work life, it must not end in a job, but in your assignment.
Employees on assignment in the workplace have a sense of mission and connect emotionally and mentally to the vision of the organisation. They work as if they own the organisation that employed them and are committed to playing their respective roles as part of a team in pursuit of the corporate vision. They think beyond working to meet basic needs. They become what I call “entreployees” (entrepreneurial employees) in their workplaces. They are highly productive and become great assets to their organisations and society as whole. Whether they work in their assignments as employees or entrepreneurs, they have very high self-esteem; they are self-actualised and have a sense of significance in life. They are highly engaged at work to deliver more value to society and find fulfilment in their work life.
A job is what you do temporarily whilst preparing to switch into your assignment with the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities. History has taught us about many people who transitioned from their jobs to pursue their assignments, in some cases, to deliver nations from slavery and/colonialism. For instance, Kwame Nkrumah worked in a job as a teacher before he trained and prepared himself for his political assignment that led to the independence of the then Gold Coast (now Ghana) from British colonial rule. Nelson Mandela had worked in a job as a Lawyer before he began his assignment to end apartheid in South Africa. The Jewish leader, Jesus Christ, worked with his Father in a job as a carpenter whilst preparing Himself for His assignment to deliver the people of God from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Dr. Mrs. Ellen Hagan began her work life as an administrative assistant before finding her place of assignment in Human Resource (HR) and moved on to build one of the notable HR consulting companies in Ghana.
It must however be noted that, making the shift from a job to an assignment is a process that takes time. It may take months, years or decades for this changeover. The HR, serving as a coach, should help to realign and re-position staff members from their jobs to assignments and avoid “square pegs in round holes” syndrome for higher corporate productivity.
Career Coach/Trainer, Corporate Life Consulting