Help your superstars find and define the meaning in their work

Yesterday I shared with you survey results that said that “meaningful work” wins out over “more money” by almost 2 to 1. The takeaway for me, and maybe for you, is that what we think people want from their jobs may not be what they actually want. This is a classic leadership mistake. We “know” the people on our teams, except that we don’t actually know them. What we know comes from bits of data we have collected along the way and a wheelbarrow full of assumptions. Now, for the brave among us, I would offer up a strategic tactic with the “aha” takeaway of this recent survey in mind. What if, in your next 1:1 meeting with one of your direct reports (you do those, right?), you ask them this question: I’m curious, what do you find meaningful about your work here? If they stammer a bit, start shifting in their seat, and it becomes too awkward, offer them this lifeline: Let’s back up a bit, how would you define meaningful work? Certainly, if given the mental space, your superstar can answer this. The reason you are asking? You want your superstar to stick around. And, working with them to find and define meaning in their work is one free leadership tactic that might help.

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Leadership

Published on February 6, 2019

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