Pay attention to the various media and it seems most believe that work is nothing but a chore. We just need to “get through the work day” so we can savour our time away from work. Of course this means we rule out enjoying around 1/2 our waking hours. (You do the math, I’ve got a blog to write.) I don’t want to write off half of my prime years without a fight. I don’t accept that work HAS to suck!
So why do so many accept that it does? One word, conditioning. Not the explicit kind of conditioning that we get through all the media messages (though that can’t be helping). No, we are conditioned through implicit messages our organizations send when average or poor results are deemed acceptable. You’re probably thinking. “My company would never accept poor results, nor would I”. Really? Ever ask an employee to take on a project and then not follow up on it for 6 months? Ever set a goal for a department or employee and then not ask for regular reports on progress? When you’ve asked, “So how’s that project coming along?”, did you get a blank stare and then some explanations about “being swamped”. And more, did you accept that explanation and say something like “okay, do your best,” Every time an organization sets a goal, or gives an employee a project but doesn’t show its importance by following up on it, they condition the staff to believe that the results don’t really matter. The longer it goes on, the more conditioned they become.
The more organizational conditioning teaches employees that the results of their efforts don’t really matter – if they get the same feedback, the same response, the same rewards, regardless of the quality of work they do, and the results they get – the less they’ll challenge themselves to find the better solution. When people aren’t challenged, apathy sets in, and then…boredom. When work becomes boring, it sucks to go to work.
Want to condition your people to challenge themselves to find the better solution?
- Clarify your organizational goals
- Align individuals’ goals with those of the organization and make sure each goal is important to the individual responsible for it.
- Make sure the goals are SMART. Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Tangible.
- Expect regular reports on progress and review them together.
- Celebrate successes and challenge them to keep improving.
When people see they are making progress towards worthwhile goals, the work itself becomes the reward whether they’ve reached the goal or not. When the work becomes the reward, it no longer sucks to go to work.