Going through the motions, coasting on autopilot, or just feeling plain old stuck--whatever you happen to call this uninspiring state, we all know how it feels to struggle with motivation in the workplace. These useful tips will get you and your team moving again in no time!
Seamlessly you go from leading a meeting, to supporting staff, to tending to your family; you’re not even sure where you find the energy to do all of this and it certainly doesn’t matter whether or not these tasks bring you any happiness because, quite simply put, they just gotta get done. Everything, including your team, is moving fast but for some odd reason you feel as if you’re not moving forward. Is it too much to ask that a spark of joy be found at the bottom of a routine task? That a glimmer of contentment be our reward for a job well done? Some may not think that mundane and tedious responsibilities can be anything but burdensome but, in this article, I present to you an opportunity to aid your team in reframing the way they view their tasks so that they may feel a greater sense of satisfaction upon their completion.
Yikes! I can hear you now, Okay there, Leadership Group, let’s see if you can get my team smiling about data entry... And to that we say, challenge accepted! Whether you’re finding it difficult to inspire your team, struggling to adapt to major changes at work, clashing with a colleague, or functioning purely out of necessity without any delight for the task at hand, one thing is certain, coasting through life on autopilot is a surefire way to feel stuck. But do not despair! This blog will get you and those you lead unstuck and moving in the right direction.
Why this feeling of stuckness:
The feeling of stuckness can be equated to a feeling of stagnancy. Does the work you’re tasked with leave much excitement to be desired? Are you barely getting by? Is morale low in the office? Perhaps many are experiencing the same thing, day in, day out: Shower. Coffee. Traffic. Emails. Meetings. Emails. Half a sandwich. Phone calls. Coffee. Compute. Half eaten sandwich. More traffic. Kids. Dinner. More emails... For most, feeling stuck is that feeling that things ‘just aren’t happening’ for them. And because we know that feelings are directly linked to needs, the question I ask those who are feeling stuck is, which of your needs are not being met right now? As leaders, your happiness is closely tied to the culture that surrounds you, meaning that the contentment of your employees (or lack thereof) will directly affect you. So when I am speaking to employers, I seek to uncover the unfulfilled needs of their employees. Equipping leaders with strategies to better fulfill the needs of their team (both individual and the collective) can counter that icky, no good feeling of a passionless workplace.
Feeling stuck and going through the daily motions is often attributed to a lack of motivation. In fact, a common complaint we receive from both employers and employees alike is that poor motivation is to blame for poor performance at work. But what lies behind poor motivation? It is our belief that when individuals “feel stuck” and unmotivated they are actually finding it difficult to 1) balance their time and energy levels, and/or 2) find a greater connection to the overall vision behind the task. If you can relate to such feelings, the following practices are for you!
PRACTICES FOR CREATING CONNECTION
- TO YOUR TASK:
You are typing away; numbers, letters and other symbols reflect in your tired eyes. The workload might be so uninspiring that the focus has become entirely about completion and compensation, and the notion that you could ever feel gratified completing this work is totally out of the question. If you’re feeling bored and uninspired, a need that may be unfulfilled is connection. That is, connection to the work, and its outcome.
Understanding how the work you do (or helping your employees to understand how the work they do) fits into the company’s overall vision is an integral part of motivation. If a strong connection between the task and the overall goal can be established, additional needs like to understand, be understood, appreciated, belong and cooperate can also be met.
Practice 1: Self reflect upon your shared vision and seek to answer and have your team answer the following questions:
- What do I do? Service.
- What greater good do I serve? Purpose.
- Where am I going? Destination.
- What principles inspire me to do great work? Values.
- How does my role align with, and contribute to, this greater good? Connection.
Practice 2: See the vision through storytelling. Whether you hold a staff meeting, a team building retreat, or speak to your employees on an individual basis, be sure to employ the use of storytelling to convey the connection between the job that they do and the bigger picture they contribute to. Use this as an opportunity to acknowledge their vital contribution and spark their interest. Make it fun!
- WITH THOSE YOU WORK WITH:
Are you a leader struggling to bring your team into alignment with a new approach? Or perhaps you are an employee who’s having a difficult time gelling with a co-worker. Understanding how work culture can impact your ability to be an effective leader and team player is vital to your success. Strained relationships and a divided team will hinder motivation and stifle good performance. If this is an occurrence in your place of work, then, again, the need here that is unfulfilled is connection. This time, connection to those you work with.
Practice 3: How to align employers and employees and build unity among the team. Hold dialogue regularly, particularly in times when a mistake or a misunderstanding arises. Speaking openly and honestly can minimize guilt, blame and shame, and renew trust, fellowship and motivated performance.
Regarding the person with whom you’ve had a misunderstanding, ask yourself: How does their role connect to my vision? What is their vision? How can I use conscious communication to inspire this individual to see how they contribute to the greater vision/goal of the company?
Whether you are the CEO of a world renowned company or a hardworking entry level employee, you will benefit from feeling connected. Connection to not only the people we work with and work for, but also to what we do, can bring meaning to any task we are faced with. This meaning can invite a sense of pride and satisfaction into your life, thus, motivating you to do your best and carry on to the next priority. If feeling stuck is the result of dissatisfaction with your present duties, let’s confront all that is inhibiting your motivation so that you can shift gears from autopilot to fully engaged and find enjoyment and satisfaction in the important work you do.
Food for afterthought:
Can you describe a situation where you....
-Found that an employee lacked motivation?
-Noticed a pattern of mistakes being made by an individual that contributed to tension in the workplace?
-Could use conscious communication to inspire your team to connect to the greater vision they support?
Try the practices listed above and see what you’re able to create.
To peace, joy and forward movement!