Does Your Work Have Meaning?

Photo: FamilyMWR

Photo: FamilyMWR

A recent edition of the Mckinsey Quarterly had some rather stunning statistics. The first was that people who are fully engaged at work – mind, body, and spirit (i.e. in the zone), are 5 times as productive. As in 500% more productive! Mckinsey also states that most people say that they and their teams are in that state – the “zone” – on average 10% of the time.

Finally, by doing a bit of simple math, you’ll see that if you could create the conditions that boost that percentage to a modest 30% you will double productivity. That is like suddenly having an entire second team (or your own personal stunt double)!

Here is the great part: You can create the conditions and encourage the skills that will make people much more engaged and productive.

The 3 keys to igniting this state are:

1. Having the necessary skills, experience, environment, tools

2. Having an emotionally healthy environment

3. Identifying meaning and creating alignment

The Missing Ingredient

McKinsey’s research showed the most common ingredient that was missing from the peak performance cocktail was “meaning”.

Most companies and managers understand the first one very well: The right people, environment and tools for the job. The second one is also not news to most modern managers since Goleman’s popularization of Emotional Intelligence.

The 3rd one is much less understood, but gaining traction with the new focus on Energy Management (one of the core pillars of our training offerings). But it really is this simple: regardless of all other aspects or attributes of any given job, if you do not have a clear goal that you are aligned with, do not believe that your work has meaning – to you personally, to society, your customers, and serves no greater good – then it is just another paycheck.

If however you are aligned with the goal, are personally invested in the outcome for your personal benefit, or to the customer, or society as a whole, you will perform at a much higher level, especially if you are firing on all cylinders in the other dimensions (keys 1 & 2).

So how do you create meaning?

Here are a few ideas:

• Engagement breeds investment – If you engage people in the decisions and direction, solicit their opinions and perspective, they will be much more engaged and invested in the outcome, even if they disagree with the final decision.

• Make it a part of your story – Communicate the benefits of your team’s mission or goals to customers, employees, and community, not just executives, board members, or shareholders.

• Expand your circle – Link company goals and performance to charitable giving or community causes.

So how do you create or find meaning in your work? How do you sustain it? Would love to hear your ideas!

 

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