One of my favourite stories from the time of NASA’s Apollo space missions involves a visit by a group of guests to Mission Control. As they were walking down one of the building’s hallways, they spotted a man in a lab coat walking in the opposite direction and as they neared them, they asked him what he did at NASA. The man looked at the visitors and replied matter-of-factly, “I’m helping to put a man on the Moon”.
Of course, what makes this NASA employee’s response so noteworthy is the fact that he wasn’t one of the engineers or scientists involved in designing the rockets or overseeing the lunar missions. Instead, he was the building’s janitor.
It’s a story that came to mind in a discussion I had last week with a team of leaders where we were discussing the challenge many organizations face of improving the levels of employee engagement found within the various teams and departments that make up their organization.
Often times, these discussions reveal both a wariness and a sense of uncertainty regarding the complexity and difficulties involved in trying to reignite the internal motivations of our employees to bring their full selves to the work they do.
And yet, what this story of the NASA janitor reveals is the both the possibility and opportunity for us to use our leadership to create that kind of environment where our employees feel valued; where they know that the work and contributions they make matter because it’s tied to the larger purpose that defines our collective efforts.
Indeed, every time I’ve shared this story with clients and conference attendees, I see in their faces that look of understanding and hope that they too might be able to inspire all of their employees – regardless of the role they play in their organization – to feel that sense of connection and value to the shared purpose that defines why they do what they do.
Of course, there are numerous studies out there that have revealed the ease by which we can create that kind of sentiment within our workforce. For example, in a study I collaborated on with Phillips North America around employee engagement and workplace attitudes, one of the more intriguing findings was the fact that more than 50% of the respondents said they’d gladly take a pay cut in order to do meaningful work.
What this reveals is that people want to know that what they do matters; that it makes a difference and creates value [Share on Twitter], not just for their organization, but for themselves as well.
Unfortunately, the challenge we now face is how to keep our focus on initiatives meant to help inspire our employees while grappling with Click here to continue reading »”Creating A Workplace Environment Where Employees Matter”