A few years ago, I heard a speaker at a conference talk about ‘finding out what your people’s purpose is.’ It was a comment which has stayed with me ever since because I believe that if we truly understand our people, really know what drives them, what matters to them, then we will be able to engage, manage and work together much more effectively.
That which drives us, which propels us out of bed in the morning, will vary greatly as we are all uniquely, wonderfully different. But chances are that for many of us, that which matters to us, above all else, isn’t work. That’s not to say that what we do isn’t hugely satisfying and important, and indeed, integral to our being. But, rather there may well be a different motive behind all that we do – be it our family, our hobby, our charitable interest, or a heartfelt ambition which has no correlation to our day job.
And yet, many employers don’t recognise this and instead expect employees to behave as if their number one priority is work. Some employers will expect their people to prioritise work, and its demands, above all else.
But they are missing the point. Because expecting employees to put work first creates dissatisfaction and demotivation. By creating cultures of long hours, where people are not empowered to bring themselves to work, by encroaching constantly on out of office times, by not giving people space to follow that which matters to them – be that attending a child’s sports’ day or doing voluntary work – creates frustration and ultimately, disengagement.
I am lucky. I love what I do – and in setting up The Engaging People Company, I have been able to marry my personal beliefs with my career. I want to make people happy, be it loved ones, friends, people I meet, people I work with, and myself. But behind that is a far bigger priority, a far deeper purpose – my family. Everything I do, I am doing for them.
And that’s what employers need to understand. And demonstrably too. Employers who get to know their people, understand what drives them, and who demonstrate respect for that which truly matters to the employee will create far better working relationships, leading to greater satisfaction, engagement, and productivity. Employers need to show that they understand what drives people – and empower them to fulfil their purpose, wherever feasible. Managing By Walking About allows employers to understand their people, create a dialogue and engender trust. And once managers understand that purpose, they need to be ready to support and empower their people to fulfil that through their management and engagement.
Employers should never create an expectation that work should be the priority, above all else, in an employee’s life. Because this will only lead to dissatisfaction, demotivation and possibly an employee departure.