7 Ways to Infuse Meaning into Work

Tasks are drudgery. Meaningful work motivates. 

Focus on meaning.

Meaning is motivation.

Think big picture, not small task.

I just drove our grandson to baseball practice. It reminded me of the years we taxied our children to practices, school activities, and their friends’ houses.

Taxiing the kids is an act of love, not a burdensome task.

  • Tasks drain energy. Meaning fuels energy.
  • Tasks frustrate. Meaning fulfills.

Show up to serve and you’ll always have meaningful work. Show up to complete tasks and you’ll want to finish and go home.

7 ways to infuse meaning into work:

#1. Discuss the most meaningful moments in their day.

Shawn Achor reports that the most meaningful moments at work are often compliments from managers. (Big Potential)

#2. Know the personal goals of each person on your team.

Align tasks with personal goals and organizational mission.

How does working on a project help a team member learn skills they hope to acquire?

#3. Explain how their work impacts others.

“Completing this report makes work easier for tonight’s crew.”

#4. Provide challenge AND support.

Work without challenge is boring. But challenge without support discourages. Ask your team members how you might support their efforts without becoming responsible for their jobs.

#5. Avoid outward displays of favoritism.

Favoritism might motivate one but it demotivates everyone else.

#6. Provide autonomy.

Work through problems, generate options, and give people choices. Choice makes people feel in control.

#7. Build forward-facing relationships.

The question is where are we going, not what have you done. Engage in regular one-on-ones that focus on the future, not just daily tasks.

Bonus: End the day with two questions. (When, by Dan Pink.)

  1. What did you accomplish today? Celebrate success.
  2. What’s the plan for tomorrow? Look to the future.

How might leaders infuse meaning into work?