Feeling unmotivated at work or want to develop your position? Use the appreciation-competence matrix to assess what you can change

Here’s a framework developed to assess your current job situation. So, if you feel unmotivated or dissatisfied at work or simply want to improve your job satisfaction, this is a good place to start to provide you with an insight about what you can change.

The idea behind the framework is very simple. List the tasks and responsibilities you have at work and analyse each according to the enjoyment you get from them and compare that to your performance. Spending 30 minutes doing this exercise can help you pinpoint what makes you happy at work and what drains your energy. The framework is also well suited for preparation for your next development discussion with your manager.

First, I will explain how to use the framework and second, how you can work with the results of your analysis.

List your tasks and responsibilities then map them
The first thing you need to do is list all the tasks you perform at work. Imagine you were asked to make a list of tasks and responsibilities for a job posting on your position. You might find inspiration in the original job posting. Otherwise, try thinking about you have done the last three months at work. What tasks have you worked on? Which projects have you been involved in?

Be very specific. E.g. if you worked on a project – list the different tasks you were responsible for. Did you prepare a workshop? Did you conduct quantitative analyses? Did you prepare the presentation for a steering committee meeting?

Now that you have the list of tasks and responsibilities, it’s time to fit them into the matrix. Draw the matrix on a piece of paper and write the tasks in the appropriate quadrant. First, evaluate if you are very good at performing the task. Try to be honest. It may help comparing yourself to others – are you outperforming them? What feedback have you received from your manager? Second, evaluate if you predominately like or dislike the task. Should be easy enough – are you looking forward to the next time you need to do this task?


Evaluate your overall result
First way to interpret your analysis is to assess if there’s a pattern. If you have placed more than half in a single quadrant, here’s what it indicates:

  • Increase exposure – Slam dunk! You’ve got a position where you perform well and enjoy what you are doing. Then you are ready to go to a more detailed level. See in the section below
  • Improve competence – Seems like you’ve found something you are passionate about, but you are probably struggling on a day to day basis. You may find you are not delivering the results you strive for even though you try very hard. One way to move on from here is to talk to your manager and discuss what you need to work on in order to improve your performance.
  • Learn to love or replace – Okay, so you find yourself in a position where you excel at what you do, but find it utterly unfulfilling. Ask yourself if you are staying in your job for comfort reasons. Otherwise, what else is keeping you there? In this case, you may also be able to utilise your manager to get input about what the two of you can change for you to derive more satisfaction from your work. Or maybe it’s even an opportunity to shift responsibilities within the company.
  • Eliminate or reduce – Clearly, something’s not right. You underperform and dislike most of your tasks. The obvious next move from here is to consider to change job.

Evaluate each task individually
Whether you find a clear pattern or not it is beneficial to analyse each individual task one at a time.

  • Increase exposure – Your key objective is to promote these tasks as much as possible to hang on to them and make them the very core of your position.
  • Improve competence – Seeing as you like doing these tasks; you need to figure out what to improve and then make a plan for how to get there.
  • Learn to love or replace – As the title says, you can either try to change your mindset about the task. For example, think about what purpose the task is serving and make it your purpose. Alternatively, you need to figure out a way to replace the task with other tasks – preferable with tasks in the top right quadrant. You can also think about if you can add “features” to the task than can move it into the top right quadrant itself.
  • Eliminate or reduce – These are hopeless. Therefore, you need to find a way to make them as insignificant as possible. Think about if you can delegate it to someone else, do it faster or find a completely alternative way of solving the task that is more fun or appeals more to your skillset.

This framework has been developed in cooperation with Natasja Petersen and we both fell it can be developed further. So, please feel free to provide your input in the comments below or by sending me a direct mail.

Please visit my blog, Career Minerals, for more posts like this.

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