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Career engagement advice from Arnold Kling:

Note Kevin Kelly’s succinct advice:

Don’t ever work for someone you don’t want to become.

My most succinct advice is: Work for a profit.

Young people assign high status to non-profits and low status to profit-seeking firms. The should do the opposite.

Profit-seeking firms are generally more sociotropic (the opposite of sociopathic) in two senses.

Externally, a profit means that the value of what you provide to consumers exceeds the cost of the inputs that you use to provide it. Almost by definition, profits indicate social betterment.

Internally, profit-seeking provides an incentive for employees to be treated well. The business needs to satisfy customers. In order to do that, it needs employees to be well trained, well supported, and well led. When employees are empowered to succeed, customers are satisfied. The businesses that thrive are those that encourage employee success.

A non-profit does not need to please customers. It only needs to please donors. This involves putting on good shows: powerpoint presentations; award ceremonies; annual reports. This gamesmanship permeates the organization. You get ahead by looking good to the manager above you, not by bringing out the best in the staff below you.

When you take a job, you want your boss and the employees around you to be aligned with your interests. You want to learn and develop. You want to be given opportunities to succeed in challenging situations. You don’t want to be set up to fail or stabbed in the back.

In short, you want to work in a sociotropic environment, not a sociopathic one. Profit-seeking firms are under more pressure to filter out the sociopaths. If you take a job at a non-profit and discover that your boss is a sociopath, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

2 Responses to “Work in a Sociotropic Environment”

  1. john barry says:

    Great post. I’ve witnessed what is described.

  2. Peter K. says:

    Sociotropic is NOT the opposite of sociopathic, in the sense intended.
    “Sociotropy is a personality trait associated with high levels of dependence and excessive need to please others. It is associated with a vulnerability to clinical depression. Individuals with sociotropy tend to be overly nurturant towards people whom they do not have close relationships with, but predisposed to be hostile towards anyone who becomes too close. People with sociotropy tend to have a strong need for social acceptance, which causes them to be overly nurturant towards people. ….
    “Sociotropric individuals highly value close interpersonal relationships, being loved and accepted, and having positive social interactions. Specialists have found that sociotropy interacted with interpersonal stress to influence subsequent depression.”
    http://dictionary.sensagent.com/sociotropy/en-en/

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