Finding and Assigning Work that Matters


No one wants to waste time doing things that don’t matter. But, what’s meaningful to one is insignificant to another. Some find details meaningful, for example, while others find them insignificant and frustrating.

People feel they matter when
they do things that matter to them.

You assign projects; they assign meaning.

Help people engage in work that matters by understanding what matters to them.

Uncover what matters:

  1. With your job in mind, “What’s important to you?”
  2. With this project in mind, “What’s important to you?”
  3. With your colleagues in mind, “What’s important to you?”
  4. ???

Shallow to deeper:

When you ask, “What’s important to you,” responses often center on activities. Ask, “What’s important about those activities?” Follow ups reveal values.

The point of asking, “What’s important?”
is about values not activities.

The most valuable thing to
know about others is what they value.

The work you assign has value when it connects to their values. Successful leaders explain the big picture and explain what’s important in terms of what’s important to them.


You’re preparing a presentation to the corporate team. Mary wants to rehearse.

Ask, “What’s important about rehearsal?”

She says, “I want to feel prepared.”

“That’s cool. So, what’s important about feeling prepared?”

She says, “I want to make a good impression.”

“That makes sense. And what’s important about making a good impression”

She says, “I want the CFO to think we’re competent.”


In the future say, “Mary, I want this project to come off perfectly so we’ll earn the respect of the corporate team. We need to look like we have it together.”

Mary’s eyes light up. She’s doing work that matters.

Enhance your value by helping others fulfill their values.

How can leaders help others uncover and  fulfill their values?

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