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:
- With your job in mind, “What’s important to you?”
- With this project in mind, “What’s important to you?”
- With your colleagues in mind, “What’s important to you?”
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?
I love it. A very practical exercise. I’m going to play with this today.
“Play” is a great word for this. It takes some practice to make this work. Just the other day, I asked what was important and someone said, “That everyone has a voice.” But I didn’t ask the important follow-up, “What’s important about everyone having a voice?”
The next time I see this person, I’m going to ask the follow up.
My favorite line; “The work you assign has value when it connects to their values.” The quality of work goes way up when we care about what we are doing. Thanks for the post!
It’s funny how quickly we get consumed with what’s important to us and forget think about what’s important to others.
It is important to know others view on organizational goal or objectives. Uncovering process starts with knowing how others view and align their interest with the objectives. One important component that help to fulfill others values is about degree of expectancy about the objectives.
When others align with the objectives, they hope that they will achieve the reward after getting result,but when they do not find the values of their efforts, they starts creating detachment from the organizational values.
So, I think leaders should ensure that values are valued in time and fairly. Time and fairness is the critical elements that either reinforce values or hinder values with organizational values. Leaders should make the path of values and outcomes clear, transparent and realistic.
“Ensure that values are valued…” Nice one.
I’ll add that we can’t underestimate the power of shared values..but for that to happen we must all share our values. Leaders help people find shared values because shared values bind us together.
For me #4 would actually be moved to number one cause even though I have only ridden in a horse and buggy a couple of times in my life……I experienced a much more enjoyable when the horse, the engine if you will was attached in front!!!
Number four switched to one is WHY did you wake up today? One example answer is to love and provide for my family.
So then when ya know their juice help link 2 thru 4 with them that working towards agreed upon goals will help them accomplish their number one, their WHY.
As far as Mary goes, simple.
Mary why do you want to feel competent?
Mary…cause if I feel competent I have a sense of belonging, security and I am really an integral part if this thing. Feeling competent gives me the permission to tell myself I matter here.
Feeling competent means I will be able to love and provide for my family.
Cool Mary, dealio is what matters here is YOUR feeling about yourself constructed by the thoughts you string together into a story about you, here.
You want to feel competent, only one way to get there. Drumroll…everybody now in your best Allen Iverson…..PRACTICE!!!!! Whawhawhat?????????
You put the work in…you know that you know that you know you got your stuff!!! You know you are competent and others opinion does not change your opinion of you.
Basically Mary you can’t base your opinion of you based on the opinion of others. You can observe their input but the final analysis of you is how you see you. What you see is what you get Mary.
I believe in you or you would not be here. Now look up competent in the dictionary so you got the correct definition and then practice till you know that you know you got this.
Ok Mary now let me know how it’s is going I am here to listen if you need me.
Yeah that is about how it would go!!!
Then I would ask her about that Khan Academy BOA commercial!!! You see that Mary? Remember who was chirping about it with you long before anyone else was???
That’s is right Mary, Shifterp!!!!
Our education techniques we use now stink. What KA does rocks and from hence forward all it will do is grow and grow. It should it is better. Check it out, maybe??? Maybe not, maybe just a thumbs down.
Shifterp back to now
“What makes you tick?”
“What got you up this morning?”
As you know, I prefer “What” to “why.” Why is too ambiguous. “What” calls for specifics, illustrations, and examples.
Lol Dan you really don’t need to ask that my friend….my why makes me tick. It is a big-un too!!!
Yours does to it is just the definition you use to understand it is different than mine is all.
That is why different isn’t wrong. I do believe if you read Simons book, Start With Why and understand where he and I and the others in The Why Movement are coming from you would or possibly could find yourself coming to a different understanding. Maybe not but until you read Simons book(this is not a criticism by the way) but until you read his book your frame of reference is limited. Not wrong, bad, limited.
So if ya really don’t understand cause of this limited reference point in my world ya got yoself two choices. Continue on with a limited point of reference or expand your reference point. Cool way read Simons book.
Plus once you really get what this guy is saying our brains biologically interpret through the limbic portion of our brains.
You may say consciously how or what or whatever but the way ALL of our brains work is WHY first. It is not opinion it is biological fact and I believe you would get that if you read Simons book. Or listen to it. Audio books and all.
Not that you would agree, but that you could better see what makes me tick.
Another is looking ahead see what is coming, chirp about it when no one has heard of it then presto change-o VALIDATION!!!! My WHY is all over dat!
Like Khan Academy, mentioned it months ago. Hardly anyone listens. Now BOA joins in a partnership and has TV commercials about it. More listening NOW but what I said months ago was valid THEN!!! Coulda listened to me then instead of ignoring me and giving me thumbs downs!!!!! Lol
I bout fell out of my chair high fiving myself. Validation. Thank ya BOA!!!
My why is our Leadership as a whole stinks. The facts prove what I am saying. 70% to the bad. Might not like me or the facts but I am who I am and the facts are what they are. Barry Wehmillers way 72% to the good!! Will keep saying it and it will continue to be true and better. Time will prove it. It is already proven just who sees it??? Why wait any longer???? Do better, now!!!!! Lol
Truly Human Leadership Rocks!!! Google away!!
Just like you go to a behavioral scientist and lay that what or how stuff on them. When they answer be willing to hear how the brain intakes info, limbic portion first, why stuff makes sense to that part of the brain. Or don’t!! Work against the biology of your own brain!!! Or don’t!!! Makes me no never mind I am going with the flow of my three pound o grey matter!!!!!! Hehe
As long as the Pope has an art collection worth millions and one of Gods kids starves today my work will not be done. As long as one employee leaves work feeling no one cares about them and steals from the employer on their way home, my work will not be done.
As long as we are 24th in math and 34th in science and Khan Academy is better, till we are number one, my work will not be done.
All parts of my big ole WHY Dan!!! What’s yours????
When I expire I am going to be asked to splain myself and what I did during my spiritual being having a human experience, experience. Well then I am preparing to have a heck of a story not that I saw all this going on and did nothing about it. Don’t project the answer coming back at that juncture is gonna be one I like too much!!!!! So I am doing something about it, Now all day long!!!
Some say I am a Dreamer, but I’m not the only one!! Simon, Bob Chapman, Frank Kern, Peter Diamandis just to name a few of my Heros!!! Emmett Fox too what a ROCKSTAR!!!
So you glad you asked?? Lol
Take care. If you want to understand, not be understood…read Simons book and then lets chat. Till then one of us got one arm tied behind their back bout WHY.
Scotty P back to now!!!
Scott P., I appreciate your contributions each day but honestly never read them all the way. You may find value, as I have, in this topic: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/10-power-tips-for-leaders-who-talk-too-much. Condensing your best thoughts into fewer words could increase the number of people who benefit from them. I’m challenging myself to work on this and wanted to share. Best regards.
Thanks John, will do gave u thumbs up for you your kind suggestion
Well done. One of my favorite posts!
Thanks John. I love a good word
Great post! This works with volunteers as well as staff. When you connect with the values of a volunteer, they’re more engaged in serving. They’ll be dedicated, dependable volunteers who’re having fun along the way.
I find it works exceptionally well with volunteers. Buy-in is a great by-product of exploring values.
I love it when you give the example that illustrates your point perfectly. Thanks very much. Will use your tip about follow-on questions and see if I can unearth some values I had not picked up on before.
Your feedback is helpful. Uncovering values, as you indicate is an ongoing process. I find that once they are discovered and respected relationships get better and work becomes more fulfilling.
As I indicated, my challenge is asking the second, third, or fourth … ‘What’s important about that,” question until I see what makes people tick. Too often, I settle for the superficial answer and miss the opportunity.
Thank you for this wonderful post. Sharing it now. You have touched upon some valid and powerful points here. As a coach, I use these very approaches to help my clients. Doing work that matters and having fun doing it brings out the best in people and leaders must work to enable the same. There is incredible talent and capabilities out there, it just needs the right playground to surface.
Hi Dan-Loved your blog and this article in particular. The fancy designations at work can be misleading others about what you do for living but in hearts of heart everyone loves a boss who can help you find a meaning in “what,how and why” of work. I have benefited working with ( not for) great bosses and genuinely believe passed on the same traits to my teams. The mantra is “there is no one size fits all strategy for finding meaning in your work”.
Happy Boss Day to everyone.
This would link you to another interesting discussion on motivating through metrics, incentives or purpose..