Activity: Importance of Various Role-Identities
STEP 1: Put a check mark in column A, next to each role that you identify with.
STEP 2: In column B, rank how important each role that you checked is in your life. For example, if you are a parent and that’s most important to you, put the number “1″ in column B adjacent to parent, then put “2″ in the role that is second in importance, and so on.
STEP 3: Now think about how much time you spend each week in any given role, and write the time estimate in column C. For example, for the worker/employee role just add up how much time on average you spend working and on work-related activities. For parent or spouse, put the actual time you spend with your kids or your partner.
Do you Play This Role?
Rank of how important it is.
How many hours per week do you spend on it?
This role and ranking exercise is similar to one used in a study conducted by Peggy Thoits, Ph.D., a sociologist currently at Indiana University. You might have noticed that roles listed in above aren’t listed in alphabetical order. They are listed in the order of importance according to Thoits’ interviews with 700 working adults. In her study most of the participants indicated that being a parent was the most important role they held in their lives, spouse was ranked as the second most important role, friend third, and so on. What’s most interesting is that people listed “worker” in the fifth position, right below being a religious observer, and above things like son or daughter or neighbor.
Look back up at your answers and think carefully about these questions:
- Did you rank the importance of your roles in a similar manner to others? How is what’s important to you, the same or different from the general population?
- How important is the worker/employee identity to you? Higher or lower than the fifth position?
- Look at column C where you indicated how much time you spend in each role. Is there a mismatch between the time you spend in each role and its order of importance?
We aren’t suggesting that they should completely match; being a parent might be the most important role, and your teenage kids certainly don’t want you spending 60 hours a week with them. But if you are spending so much more time as a worker than in the other roles, it should be easy to see how your employment plays a critical part in who you are and how you experience life. Given this importance, are you doing everything you can to reach full engagement at work?