Happy Valentines Day everyone!
On this most romantic of days it’s worth talking about LOVE at work. And no, I’m not talking about the office romance kind of love. I’m talking about a different kind: the love we aspire to have with our work and what each of us can do to enhance that relationship – both for ourselves and for our colleagues and teams.
Loving your work (or even just being satisfied) is such an important factor in our overall health and happiness. On average, we spend well over twice as much time at work than with our spouse – and yet, a YouGov survey shows that in the UK for example only 17% of people love their jobs. So what can do about this? A huge amount has been written and continues to be published about how we should all follow our dreams and find the perfect job.
Much of this might be laudable, but doesn’t it also seem a bit like the world of dating and the Hollywood dream of the “perfect forever partner”? Maybe there is something to be learned in how to find love in our work in the same way that people approach romance. Isn’t there also merit on reflecting on the ingredients that will enhance your existing job? Or even once you find a great job, understanding how to stay in love with it over time?
With that in mind, what are some of the things we can all do to transform an ordinary job into the extraordinary? I’ve met a number of people that claim they love their jobs and I have to admit their positivity has made me look at my work differently. And for those of us in leadership positions… how can we work to create a deeper, richer experience for our people and our future?
From my work with dozens of organisations at fts global and WELLBUSINESS™, I believe this comes down to four essential ingredients:
Daniel Pink’s seminal book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” identified mastery and purpose as two of the three essential ingredients to increase both performance and satisfaction, significantly above salary and other material benefits. So whilst it’s becoming more common for organisations to talk about their mission, it’s equally important for employees to know their own purpose and to use this as a platform for their career and personal development .
For each of us, this means asking important questions about our own personal why – i.e. what do I care most about? How does my position in the organisation relate to my personal mission? The more we can be clear on this, the more we can then identify current and future projects to contribute to. And then for our organisations as whole, we must invest in identifying and communicating the why of the whole business or NGO – and engaging all our people in that critical journey.
The other ingredient Daniel Pink identifies for performance and satisfaction is autonomy. This means being a bold leader yourself, whilst at the same time as seeking to empower other talent in your teams. Bold leadership is more and more essential, as societal change accelerates and organisations face moments of transformation and ambiguity. And at the same time, we need to encourage and empower others to contribute more to the success of the organisational mission with creativity and innovation.
So much of business rests on the quality of communication both up and down the organisation, across teams and externally towards customers and stakeholders. Our natural habit is to focus on our own personal needs, relying on old habits of broadcast email and meetings in hour long chunks. Essential to any relationship is to listen more, to build a deeper understanding of the other party – and use that understanding to build common goals. If we can all give a little more effort to authentic listening and dialogue, then this will pay huge dividends over time.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” was a famous line from Peter Drucker, and certainly building a distinct, holistic culture at work is key to the distinctiveness and success. For those in leadership positions, building a culture of feedback and supporting processes is a critical way to ensure the organisation is always learning and improving.
And for those at all levels of the organisation, having a “culture” that you love means defining better ways of working other than simply working more and harder. Technology in particular has enabled us to be “always switched on”, including a US study indicating that 78% of people check their email frequently throughout the day. And 66% say that the first things they do in the morning are check email or voicemail. And yet research is mounting to show the damage this does to our mental health, as well as the inefficiencies of this state of permanent interruption. Establishing better routines and practices for yourself such as establishing email free time - are essential for resetting your relationship with your job and falling in love all over again!
Are you in love with your job? What do you feel would help deepen your professional relationship? Please let me know your thoughts below.