Over the past couple of months, I’ve had numerous conversations with leaders in both the private and public sector, discussing some of the key issues they face today and what they see as the main challenges they’ll face going forward.
In many of those conversations, a common theme inevitably surfaces – how do I get my employees to care more about the work we do? How do I create that environment where people are internally motivated to bring their discretionary efforts to the table?
Naturally, such questions invariably lead to discussions of how can we make work more meaningful for our employees; of how do we help them make contributions that matter to them as much as it matters to our organization.
It’s a train of thought that came to mind a few days ago when my oldest daughter returned home from high school happy to share some great news – “Leslie’s back working at our school”.
To help put this news in context, my daughters’ high school has had to make some serious budget cuts this academic year, which unfortunately included having to let go of some valuable and greatly-appreciated personnel at our high school.
Without question, Leslie is one of these employees. But thankfully, the school’s administration has found some other way to keep him involved and present in the school community, much to the excitement and delight of the students.
Now I’m sure many of you are probably thinking that Leslie is one of the ‘cool teachers’ at my daughters’ high school. The truth, however, is that Leslie is not one of the teachers – he’s the school’s security guard.
So why would my daughter and the other students be excited about his return? It’s not because they go to a dangerous school – far from it. Rather, it’s because of how Leslie approaches his job.
Since the day he started, Leslie made a point to not simply sit in his security booth. Instead, he would reach out to engage with the students, wanting to learn about their successes, and taking part in the fun activities meant to break up to monotony of the school routine.
So when news broke out that Leslie would no longer be working at the school, many of the students were sad to hear it because for many of them, he was the smiling, friendly face that greeted them at the end of their school day. He was also the cheery presence that kept them company while they waited for their parents to come pick them up.
The way Leslie approached his job reminded me of a study I share in some of my talks which found that all of us view our work in one of three ways: as a job, as a career, or as a calling.
Now, it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear a pediatrician or a firefighter talking about their work as being their calling. But for the majority of us, the more likely response we’d give is that we view our work as being our career.
In Leslie’s case, given how he used to be a professional guitarist whose work can be heard on certain album recordings, it should be a given that he’d view his current work as a high school security guard as nothing more than a job.
And yet, in my numerous conversations with him, it was obvious that Leslie never saw his role at my daughters’ high school as just a job, and he certainly didn’t view it as a career.
Indeed, it’s clear to anyone who spent time interacting with him that he definitely sees the work he does in our school as being his calling. Why is that? The answer is surprisingly simple – Click here to continue reading »”Leaders, It’s Time To Make Work Meaningful Again”