Crashing barriers to fulfillment at work
Inept leaders drain enthusiasm; create negative work-cultures, and generate unfulfilled, self-centered, inward-facing employees.
Great leaders know how to infuse people with fulfillment.
The barrier of meaningless work is broken when the value of work is understood and embraced.
When employee contributions aren’t valuable to your organization, their leader is inept. S/he is not effectively leveraging human resources.
Worse yet, team members that can’t explain the value of their work have inept leaders.
Worth of work:
Work that isn’t valued isn’t fulfilling.
Explain the worth of work in terms internal and external customers understand and value.
Why not invite a team member to your office and ask them to explain the value of their work. Don’t terrify them. Tell them you are exploring and then listen.
Explain the value of their work from your point of view.
Focus on value in terms of internal and external customers. In addition, describe value in behavioral not theoretical terms.
Include individuals with less glamorous positions like support and custodial staff.
One step more:
Crashing barriers to fulfillment at work
includes feeling valued by others.
Go one step more by asking team members to explain the worth of another employee’s work. Stick with terms that internal and external customers value.
What could happen at a, “Value of work,” meeting where people explain the value of other people’s work? How might it be run?
Interesting post! My wife was saying just the other day that working in a small company enables her to see the value she provides as the lone accountant at the company. So many companies fail to acknowledge the value of people’s work.
I ran a leadership development workshop last year where the participants acknowledged each other’s contributions / work at a company. The exercise broke down the walls because everyone experienced and understood the value of acknowledging the work of other people. The people now acknowledge each other, which has impacted the culture / vibe of the organization. And it impacted the home life of several participants, which was really powerful!
Thanks for the thought-provoking content and for making a difference!
It’s always wonderful to have comments that affirm, illustrate, and expand Leadership Freak posts.
Thanks for sharing your story.
Absolutely! Unfortunately in the profession that is education, this ineptness is widespread. People work with dysfunctional teams, teachers don’t feel their work has purpose, or their practice is valued. The result? Classrooms and schools full of children who could be getting so much more from their instruction, if only their teachers had the energy to spare and deliver it.
Interesting post, Dan. Could you provide some specific examples of inept leadership / unfulfilled employees? Does this happen more frequently in large orgs, small or both?
Great post Dan. It always amazes me when I hear someone tell me they have a “thankless job”. I have to curb my enthusiasm from lecture mode as I do think the problem is not only their leader not appreciating them, but their lack of belief in what they are doing. You would not have that job if it was not valued, so do it well and add some value.
Good post. Fits right in with my belief system that everyone has value – and everything they do has value – even when we might not like what they are doing.
Another advanced step the leader might want to take after asking the employee to explain the value of their work to the organization – ask the employee how that fits in with their intentions in life, and their core values. It deepens the understanding, and adds to the self-esteem and self-worth.
Just a thought.
Making your team understand the importance of what they do and the important of their contribution to the health of the company is very important, the hard part isn’t just doing it, but the fact different people must be treated in different ways. I have found in years not everyone can be stimulated and empowered in the same way, so as a leader you don’t just have to inspire, but also to adapt.
scary stuff.. you want me to work and to add value too!
I’m meeting with our Product dvbelopment fuinction tomorrow to explore this exactly. The approach is from a differnt angle, but to the same end and may be another way to approach the ‘value threat’. I’ve simply asked to validate how we select the current projects we work on, what criteria, what allocation of resources, where it takes us and what gets left behind.
I think people have a fear of not having value if they stop doing what they are doing. The irony being that if they don’t stop doing what they already do, they will have no value.
Man talk about relevant and insightful.
Your last line is a real kicker… its wisdom that applies in several arena’s and I think is the reason we may frequently spin our wheels.
Richard is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. He’s been out and in a bit. It’s always great to see him in. I have to update his profile… stay tuned
Stunningly relevant post with which to start a work week!
This weekend, on Facebook, Ken Blanchard asked “do you work for a Servant Leader?” and linked to this post by Bret Simmons, which incorporates questions to determine if you are working for a servant leader:
I didn’t want to go into detail on a Facebook page, but I will just say that my “internal” answer to that question made me sad, both from the standpoint of my current reporting relationship, the one prior to that, and the areas in which I feel I could have been a more effective servant leader when I was supervising. And the issue with the current relationship is not so much ineptitude as a “benign” approach that doesn’t aggressively seek out ways in which each valuable member of our organization can be energized about bringing their energy, vitality, and competencies to the table.
A couple of characteristics Bret brought up include the very basic: “My manager cares about my personal well-being” to the complex: “My manager has a thorough understanding of our organization and its goals.”
And to link back to your question, “What could happen at a, “Value of work,” meeting where people explain the value of other people’s work? How might it be run?”
I don’t really know how to articulate my vision of “how might it run” but I see the organizational equivalent of a “progressive dinner,” where you spend time in each environment before processing “the value of other people’s work.” I suppose some combination of “doing” and “seeing” in addition to the “telling.” What could happen? Just like with progressive dinners, someone may find that dish they have been avoiding because it was foreign to them was actually a hidden gem that they enjoy very much.
Thanks for a great comment. Any comment with the word “stunningly” in it has to be great!
Your comment goes along with Al’s (which follows) Before explaining the value of another’s work, be sure you know what their work is. Al suggests job swapping.
Thanks for leaving a useful link and adding value to the conversation.
Paula is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read her bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/paula-kiger
Hi Dan nice post to begin the week. The exercise of running a “value of work” meeting to me seems to be most productive if done at the department level where everyone has a different job description but they “rub elbows” and can attest and judge in better fashion. What some other creative organizations have done in the past is “swapping” jobs and then having a follow up meeting. Contrasting initial “value” impressions between both meetings might reveal a lot of more and surprise all concerned. Nothing jogs the mind better than “walking in someone Else’s shoes.” This activity has been done frequently with the administrative teams but I am not sure how often it happens at the departmental level. It would be interesting to hear from other folks and their experiences about this “swap.” Have a great week Dan, Al
Thanks for adding value to the conversation.
Your suggestion of a Departmental meeting addresses a problem I didn’t bring up. If the room is filled with people at the same level, there can be a competition between participants. They may not enjoy explaining the value of another persons work. I’m not saying thats good. I’m just saying it could be true.
Thanks for all you do.
Al is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/al-diaz
Hi Dan I appreciate your comment regarding department based “value of work” meetings. We have and are trying to change the mindset of your typical org chart as we have discussed before. I recently addressed the managers of the organization at their monthly meeting. The focus of discussion was the value that every member of an organization brings. The job of leadership is to put folks in jobs “they are smart at” and not worry so much about how smart someone is. I guess in your typical company departmental discussions and swapping would not be a productive exercise but we are trying to get away from that. Swapping jobs and having people cross-trained makes sense to me. We need to evolve to the “turf-less” concept and develop a culture of ownership which many folks out there are proposing. (Joe Tye-comes to mind). There is a company in Brazil where all of the staff decide on executive job descriptions and performance related salaries. (Don’t remember which one right now but am sure could find it checking my notes.) This past weekend was the official opening and ribbon cutting for our Regional Cancer Center. We had folks from all different areas of the organization volunteer to provide tours to the 1600 people that showed up. (Notice I did not say different levels). Those 50 plus volunteers that gave up their weekend will be getting a personal phone call expressing gratitude from our CEO in name of our entire Board. Disruptive innovation is needed not just on the creative and product side but also in management. Thanks for the feedback. Al
Riffing off of Invitation, Crashing barriers and Al’s path, have to wonder if it would make more sense to go to the employee rather than have the employee come to your office/your turf to identify values. You would ask the same unconditionally positive questions about the value of the work. Be there on the floor, on the line so that beyond just a verbal exchange you might have a ‘hands on’ demonstration of the value of the work. What could be more valuable than that? It would of course be more comfortable for the employee and literally/figuratively shows that you are there with him/her.
Doc I hear what your saying and don’t disagree with the supervisor-employee path per se. Although certainly a valuable interchange I would submit to you that the bigger bang will come from everyone’s appreciation of each others strengths and weaknesses. I guess posed differently your scenario begs the question, what is one trying to achieve? Cheers Doc and thanks for creating alternatives. Al
Great point Al. Being aware of proxemics. again both actual and figurative would be something a leader can be aware of. In going for a bigger bang, there might also be a secondary gain of going to the gemba to see values aligned (or not). The other obvious secondary gain might be that others in range also noting that the leader is right there with them. (probably what rankles me about the undercover boss tv show…shouldn’t the boss really know and not have to go undercover!?)
I do agree that swapping jobs would likely not be productive, although, being out there and covering for someone who needs a break might be a good approach.
Love your disruptive innovation perspective…keeps entropy at bay.
Allright Doc you are limited to 2 vocabulary look ups per comment! 🙂 Gemba? been to the orient I see. Rankle? Irritating would have been fine but I know you were trying to “rankle” me. 🙂 Proxemics I figured that one out. thanks for the enrichment Doc. AD
Don’t make me stop this car and separate you two! 😉
China in the 80s, but gemba is the lean stuff. What can I say, I am immersed in a two day lean training right now…actually do like many of the lean tenets–unrelenting pursuit of the elimination of waste (waste can be on many levels) and more importantly, respect for who and where the work gets done.
Proxemics can be overt and covert, great stuff to attend to…watch a large group of people and their personal space, the non-verbals that tell the rest of the story.
Rankle is just such a good word, allows you to get your hackles up! 😉
Interesting post Dan.
I have often experienced knowing how much I contributed and was valued in a place of work on the day I was leaving! It’s only then that people start to speak to you about the value of your work. And it’s too late then.
I agree that conversing about the work done face to face, in a group or individually, is an added value moment. Knowing how that role fits into the company’s bigger picture then cements a sense of purpose and value that may have not been there before.
Thanks for the opportunity to comment. KH
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