In last weeks blog I discussed the idea of meaning in your team’s work. This has now been shown to be the most powerful motivator for people. Meaning comes above everything else in terms of inspiring people to work harder including a higher motivator than money. If you can cultivate an environment of meaning for you team you can enjoy some rich rewards. A highly engaged, driven, committed and productive team. However, creating this culture is not an easy thing to do, or else everyone would do it. So here is a blog on 5 areas you can focus on to make give your team a better sense of meaning in their work.
1. Their work must be bigger than just them
One of the biggest motivations for anyone in the workplace is realising their work has a positive impact on others. To know that what you do helps other people is a massive contributor to people find meaning. In all the research it is often cited as a major component. When a bin collector is asked about meaning in his work, he talks about dumping all the recycling at the end of the day. It gives him a sense that he is contributing to a healthier planet for his children. That is where the meaning is. The academic talks about seeing the graduation ceremony at the end of the year. All their work has helped people achieve something. Find someway for your team to impact others and they will have greater sense of meaning in their work.
2. Realise meaning is not always found in the positive
When talking about meaning it is hard not to get sucked into the idea that this is intertwined with keeping the work environment happy and positive. However, the research shows that meaning is not always derived from happy or positive experiences. One of the strongest examples is that of nurses. They talk about imes when they have had to use all their experience and skills to ease someone’s passing. Although this is a highly emotional and sad moment they find immense meaning in what they can do to make it as comfortable as possible for the patient. Don’t always try to nurture a happy environment as this is not always the best route towards meaning.
3. It doesn’t need to always be meaningful and it never will be
Although the idea of creating meaning in your team’s work is a hugely beneficial practice, always be conscious that you cannot and don’t need to always create meaning. Moments of meaning will be different for everyone and be highly emotional episodes in that individual’s life. Maybe you nail that big presentation or you crack that new software you have been working on for months and months. Whatever it is, as a leader, you need to be patient and realise that meaning comes and goes. It is creating the environment where people can have these experiences that is the key skill for you as a leader.
4. Meaning is not created in the the moment but only on reflection
One of the key findings of research into meaningful work is that people only see the meaning they experienced in their work when reflecting on what they did. As a leader you can have a direct impact on this by creating a culture of reflection. Taking time out to help your team members look back on what the did and giving time to think about it. By encouraging this sort of thinking meaning will become part of their narrative and will reinforce the positive feelings about their role. .
5. It is more meaningful when it can be felt closer to who they are
When talking about meaning in the workplace many people who are interviewed talked about times when they experienced something that really mattered to them personally. For example, you may have started your business to make your parents proud or you have the chance to use your skills to help a family member achieve something. When your work crosses into your personal life, it has more power and meaning to you than ever. If it can become part of who you are then you will find that you derive more pleasure that you have ever had. As a leader this is a hard one to help cultivate but there will be ways you can learn more about the individuals in your team and try to make the work more personal for them.
These are 5 areas you can work on to cultivate a culture of meaning in your team. The answers of how to do this will not come straight away but by simply becoming aware of them it will make a difference. GIve yourself time to think about them, be patient and you will soon have ideas of how you can encourage more meaning in your team’s work.
All research sourced from: http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/what-makes-work-meaningful-or-meaningless/