What are the two things that matter most to you in your career?
Some suggestions to get you going: Flexibility? Tackling an issue? Being able to support a family? Having a creative outlet? Don’t worry if you can’t clearly identify your two things off the bat—according to LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky, simply asking the question can be a powerful way to assess your relationship to work.
“I’ve thought about this for 20 years,” Roslansky told Time executive editor John Simons in an interview at the Charter workplace summit on November 10. His own answer: “I want to work with people that I love working with. I want to come in and be excited to work with great people every day. And number two, I want to be working at a company or on a product that does good in the world.”
Roslansky explained that he plots those two points out on a simple two-by-two matrix, with the goal of always being in the upper right-hand quadrant where both things are true: He’s working with great people every day, and working on something that does good in the world. If he finds himself in a quadrant where just one is true, it’s time to make a change; if he’s in the lower left-hand quadrant, where neither are true, it’s time to make a big one.
The same matrix is also an excellent tool for managers to better understand what motivates and matters to their employees. Encouraging people to keep their answers simple and succinct is key, Roslansky said, noting that when we’re asked about what we care about at work, we tend to come up with long lists that include everything from making more money to learning new skills. Whittling that list down to two high-level guiding principles is actually much more instructive. “Codifying it down becomes a very productive exercise,,” said Roslansky. “So as a manager, you can help that person achieve what they’re trying to do in their career.”
Roslansky noted that for some people, these values might remain relatively constant, and for others they might change over time, or even frequently. The point is to create a system that allows you to make a measured, concrete assessment of where you are and where you want to be. That way, he said, “If you’re not in the top right quadrant, we at least have a framework in order to work to move it.”