Leon PurtonJun 19
I bet it took these 4 things
I have asked this question of others in the workplace recently. When asking this question, I am trying to understand what type of work gives people energy, what are the characteristics of that work that made it so? Despite a wide range of work, different organisations, and a breadth of personalities, there are some common themes in the answers I have received. Pause for a minute, and ask yourself that question…. When have I been most energised? What activity or result gave me that ‘accomplished’ buzz?
A few of the common themes I get when I ask this question are;
It probably wasn’t easy — You had to work for it, your efforts directly contributed to its success, but you had to navigate your way to the end with some inspired perspiration or cognitive horsepower. You completed something challenging.
Your efforts were valuable — You know that the contribution you made was paramount to the success of the activity. You added significant value to the end product. This is a self-motivated feeling of adding value, but perhaps it was acknowledged and re-enforced too.
You saw its importance — You know that the task fulfilled a bigger purpose. It contributed to the larger success of the team, or job, or organisation. Its importance added some pressure to you, but you know that it was worth the effort to achieve. You had clarity on how your efforts fit into the bigger purpose.
You had some autonomy— Despite the value, and the complexity of the task, you had enough control over the activity to know that the end product was yours… You had some autonomy in defining the direction and the focus of the outcome. While you had this autonomy, you know that you had the support of peers and managers in achieving it. Autonomy is not working independently, it is working in the manner the job requires, with you having sufficient control to influence the outcome. It felt like your task, not someone else’s you were doing for them.
These four things kept coming up in the answers. The next question I often ask people, is when do you feel like your work is taking away your energy? They simply answer, when those things aren’t met…
So — as leaders, what can we do? Leaders at every level have the responsibility of shaping the environment for work, creating a work environment and identifying tasks that deliver these characteristics to the tasks. Sometimes you have to work hard to create it, or foster it in the team. Remember as the leader you set the environment… Similarly, when you are given a task, work hard to shape your own environment such that you can create these things for yourself, here are the four things to look for or create;
- don’t chase easy work — find the work that challenges you or create challenges within the task,
- work to understand how you add value — how do you improve the outcome,
- know how this task contributes to the bigger picture—seek clarity on why it is important, and
- work in a manner that fits the requirements of the task—own your outcomes, but collaborate and communicate as necessary.
You can create the environment around you with your language, behaviours and actions. Use these criteria to assist in energising your workplace. You don’t need permission…
I’ve included two articles on your energy in the workplace and how it affects others, and doing work that matters, if you are energised for your work, it will affect those around you. Be the positivity you need.
Stay safe and keep smiling.