“ARE YOU SERIOUS!?” I thought to myself as I got off the phone with my supervisor. This was the fourth time I had reworked this report – each time having had different directions, parameters, and requirements. Usually, I like things on my “done” list and not my “to do” list but this time I felt a little different. I was frustrated, unmotivated and, yes, a little angry that I was going to have to work through this data again. This resulted in me having a conversation with myself that spooled me up even more. At the peak of my self induced conversational frenzy, my supervisor walked in the door. I don’t know if it was a look of surprise or death that I gave him as he stepped closer to me and began to speak but I know that it wasn’t pleasant. In a very low, calm voice he said, “Chip, I know that this has been frustrating, but let me tell you everything that’s been going on with this data call and why it’s so important.” He then explained all the information that hadn’t been given to him at first but he also explained the value of what we were doing (in a nutshell, that the requirements we were justifying would, in the end, ensure others’ safety). Immediately, my self-talk changed from that of righteous indignation to that of an attitude of “how can I do more?” I learned an important lesson that day….VALUE MOTIVATES! That giving people the “why” of what they do creates value for them and, in turn, for the team.
From that day forward I have worked to link people to value by valuing them in three ways.
First, I value the person. Each person brings something unique to the team. I have always envied my “Spock like” logical co-workers who approach each task as if they’re about to perform brain surgery. That’s not me and not in my “gift set.” What I do bring is passion for the task and creativity in getting it done. Those that have recognized this and valued it, motivated me to do more. As a supervisor, when I took the time to get to know my people, know their gifts and fit the job to their strengths, we were able to get more done as a team – each and every time.
Second, I value the contribution. Let’s face it, we spend most of our waking hours at work or thinking about work. In the end, work has to mean more than just a paycheck. Each of us (including myself) wants to feel that we’re making a difference in some way – that our contribution to the end result matters. The easiest way to let people know is, yes, to just tell them. Just as my supervisor communicated the importance of my contribution to the end result, I have worked to let others know the same. Telling a person is the first step – rewards are the second (a THANK YOU is a great start).
Third, I value the relationship. I’ve had very few jobs in my life where I woke up and thought, “HOLY CRAP!! I GET TO DO THIS TODAY!” For me, the joy in work has come partly from the type of work but mostly from the people I worked with. If we enjoyed each other, had fun, and were able to connect on a personal level, I was in my element. I am not saying that I have to be everyone’s best friend. That’s not possible. But, I am saying that we, as leaders, can create the type of environment where people flourish. This is done by sharing our time, our talents and our story. Anytime I’ve shared my story with another, it shared my humanity and encouraged them to do the same.
In today’s world, we’re all trying to do more with less and leverage what little we have left. Why not leverage the only real assets in our organization that matter – our people! If we want more value, it starts with relaying the value. By valuing the person, the contribution, and the relationship, your team will go further than you ever thought possible (and probably enjoy the trip a little more too).