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Make work meaningful for your team

Tamanna Mishra
8th Sep 2017
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Continuing with my series on all that is missing from leadership and people management trainings in our workplaces, it is now time for what is perhaps the most crucial aspect – how to motivate your employees by showing them how meaningful their work is.

The pre-liberalization era of work serving singularly as a means to an end is well and truly over. Today, employees want to serve a purpose at work. They want to know they are making an impact. They want constant feedback. They are aware of ethical and moral grey areas in the workplace. Employment is now also the tool for self-actualization, an objective not many organizations are working to fulfil.

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Brand values and corporate citizenship goals aside, even in the most forward-thinking organizations, everyday work is monotonous. When you have reams of content to write, hundreds of emails asking for your attention, tens of meetings to attend every week, and killer commutes to top it all, it is difficult to remember the bigger picture. It is even harder to remember how your monotonous to-do lists makes an impact on it.

In such times, people managers are the most powerful voices to consistently remind and rehash the larger organizational purpose and how his or her team’s work is influencing it.

Constantly remind how your team’s work makes a difference in the world

The organizations that eventually thrive are the ones that make the world a better place. Remind your team, continuously, how its work impacts the end user. Healthcare technology saves lives. Media is the fourth estate of democracy. Every lasting job function has a bigger purpose in the world at large. Don’t let your team lose sight of its larger purpose even for one day.

Remind your team of the people whose lives are a little happier because of their efforts

Helping others is perhaps the most certain way to deliver motivation. Remind your team members to ask of themselves what they can do to make someone’s life easier or happier. For some industries, like healthcare, this is easy. In others, managers need to connect the dots. Remind your team that its work doesn’t necessarily need to cure cancer or put an end to social issues for it to have meaning. If you are helping the world communicate better, easing tasks of stressed urban professionals, keeping them safe, online and offline, you are delivering meaning.

An example of this is advertising, often labelled as a soul-less profession. Sure, it powers consumerism like little else can. But the team that created Coca Cola’s Small World Machine or Google’s Reunion delivered happiness. In their own small ways, these campaigns held incredible meaning. Connect these dots for your team members, because often they don’t notice the subtle positive impact of their everyday tasks.

Finally, remind your team of the bigger impact of every small win. A life-changing idea comes once in a lifetime. But every instance when your team delivers great work, makes a client successful, or collaborates well, it is a win in its own right. Encourage and celebrate the everyday wins, the small happiness at work. Eventually, it adds up.

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