Daniel Pink the author of the book DRIVE: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, is a marketing expert and a bit of a futurist. In a recent interview, he talked about how many people in America today feel deprived of context in their work. In fact, 75% of people interviewed don’t feel that what they do matters, or that they’re making a measurable contribution to their company or to the world. Depressing, huh?
There are several reasons that this feeling occurs. Maybe the corporate culture discourages being part of a team. Maybe the company doesn’t involve their employees in the organization’s success (or lack thereof). Maybe the employee simply isn’t getting any feedback as to whether their work is integral to the success of the business.
If you find yourself in a position where you’re feeling deprived of context in your work, ask yourself why. Do you feel a driving need to make a difference in the world and in people’s lives? Do you want to be recognized for your contribution to your company? Do you feel isolated, as though you’re working in a void? Once you have an honest answer, you can begin to work toward solving the issues around your problem.
Here are some ideas for creating context in your work life.
- If you’re not getting feedback from your boss or co-workers, create your own “annual review” form. (You can base it on the form I’ve provided here. Take an inventory of your skills; then, ask yourself where you feel your progress should be measured and what you could be doing better. You might even create a copy of this form to present to your boss or peers.
- If you’re lacking a team structure, create your own team. Ask your co-workers to meet on a regular basis to discuss projects, smooth over trouble spots, and create working plans for the future. You can even offer each other unofficial “annual reviews” to help bring communications issues to light.
- Ask for feedback. As Dan Pink points out, without feedback you’ll never achieve mastery. If you want to grow within your field and perfect your skill set, you need objective, honest information. If your boss won’t (or can’t) provide this, ask your peers, or seek out a mentor or coach.
- If you can’t come up with a way to feel satisfied and fulfilled in your current job, it’s probably time to leave. You might look for a new job with a company that stresses employee enrollment and accountability (i.e., the Toyota Management style). Research proves that when team members are actively enrolled in the performance of a company, it has a profound effect on morale and productivity. Or, if you’re active in a particular cause, look for a company whose values align with that cause, and in whose mission you can believe.
When we feel that what we do makes a difference in the world, it can change the way we view the daily grind. If you’re having trouble identifying what you need to feel valued at work, give me a call. We can work together to assess what you need from your boss and your career, and help you find a place where you can continue to grow.
To learn more about how I can help you facilitate this process, read my recent case study here.