Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

Three Signs of a Miserable Job: Irrelevance

March 19, 2008

In an earlier post, I introduced the concept of Anonymity as it relates to job misery. This time around, I would like to focus on Irrelevance. Patrick Lencioni has the following to say about irrelevance:

“Everyone needs to know that their job matters, to someone. Anyone. Without seeing a connection between the work and the satisfaction of another person or group of people, an employee simply will not find lasting fulfillment. Even the most cynical employees need to know that their work matters to someone, even if it’s just the boss.”

Think about it. How would you feel about your job if what you did had absolutely no measurable impact on anyone? What if the thing you poured your heart into mattered to no one? That would be absolutely horrible. The good news is that your job does matter to people. If you are an administrative assistant, doing good work has a positive impact on your boss. If you are a leader, then everything you say and do matters to the people who choose to work for you. If you are a programmer, your quality development matters to your co-workers, boss, customers, technical support engineers….

You get the picture. So, how can you overcome feelings of irrelevance in the workplace? If you are a leader, it’s pretty easy: let your people know that what they do matters to you — that if they do a good job, it makes your life better. Acknowledging that your people draw satisfaction from doing things that make your day isn’t egotistical. It is honest. More importantly, though, is helping your people understand how their work impacts others (customers, co-workers, etc.). As a leader, it is your responsibility to help your people grow and feel fulfillment in their jobs. They will do better work if they feel accountable to someone other than themselves.

If you’re not a leader, then finding relevance where you feel there is none might be a bit tougher. I encourage you to have an open, honest discussion with your boss about your feelings. Have them help you identify to whom the work you do really matters. You also need to do some soul searching. Think long and hard about who you impact on a daily basis. Make it tangible. If you have customer interaction on a daily basis, clearly, that is a marker of relevance. If you don’t have direct customer interaction but, say, develop a product that ships to customers, think harder. You can’t derive relevance from an abstract. You need something tangible to see that your work matters. Think about who’s life would be made more difficult if you didn’t do an excellent job. Who’s day is harder if you don’t show up for work? These are the people to whom you matter.

Remember, there are people that care about the work you do. If you’re a leader, acknowledge those people and help those around you see the relevance in their jobs. If you’re not a leader, figure this out quickly, and you’ll soon be leading others.

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Solo Entrepreneurs

March 18, 2008

Here is a great article from InformationWeek about solo entrepreneurs — how people have started very compelling, legitimate and profitable businesses utilizing high-speed internet connectivity, mobile applications and delivering value to their customers.

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Three Signs of a Miserable Job: Anonymity

March 15, 2008

I recently read Patrick Lencioni’s book “Three Signs of a Miserable Job”. A brilliant overview of how leaders in an organization can foster an environment where people love what they do for a living. In Patrick’s model, there are three key areas that contribute to overall job satisfaction: Anonymity, Irrelevance and Immeasurement.

In this post, I will discuss Anonymity, its importance and what leaders can do to make their people feel cared about at work.

According to Lencioni, “People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. All human beings need to be understood and appreciated for their unique qualities by someone in a position of authority. People who see themselves as invisible, generic or anonymous cannot love their jobs, no matter what they are doing.”

As a leader, I have seen the value of really knowing my people cause great results. The simple act of acknowledging that they have a life outside the confines of the office creates a relationship between leader and employee that transcends the latest project or office politics. My team wants to perform better because they feel a bond to me as their leader that is substantial and personal. Think about it: do you perform better when you want to do something for someone or when you have to do something for someone? It’s a no-brainer. When I ask my team to do the impossible in a very short time frame (which is too often), they do so willingly, and it fills me with pride to see them step up.

So, how do you really get to know your people and remove the barrier of anonymity in your workplace? It’s easy. All you have to do is care. You need to treat your team as talented contributors as opposed to simply resources for getting things done. When you ask about their weekend, have a genuine interest in their response. If they have children, understand that their kids are more important to them than anything that happens in the office. If they are just starting off in life, be willing to sit down with them and walk through the steps of buying a house, refinancing a mortgage or setting up their 401(k).

Simple actions like this humanize the workplace and create an environment where everyone feels better about spending their time together striving for a common goal. You can’t fake this stuff. You can’t go through the motions and not genuinely care about your people. This can’t be a means to an end. It has to be real, heartfelt and tangible. If you have to fake it, your team will see through your actions and create a distrust of you, your sincerity and your integrity.

To close, a former boss of mine said something that is relevant to the dismantling of anonymity in the workplace: “Treat your people like volunteers, and they will move mountains for you. Treat them like employees, and you’ll never know what they are able to accomplish.”

If you have any thoughts or comments on ways to remove anonymity on your team, let us know by leaving comments. Through the sharing of information and ideas, we all benefit.

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Job Titles

March 5, 2008

Dan Miller has posted an interesting entry about job titles. It is difficult to come up with something more meaningless that a job title. What value does it serve? It allows Human Resources to quantify people based on a loosely defined set of skills that people may or may not utilize in their jobs. Thinking in regards to Talent as opposed to Human Resources, I think that titles should be abolished. They are self-limiting and encourage people to see themselves in the confines of a probably irrelevant set of qualifications.

An organization that relies on growing Talent as opposed to the mechanistic structure of Human Resources should abolish job titles or at least allow their Talent to define their own creative titles based on their unique skills.