The interesting thing about this column is that it’s not only good advice on how to treat those you manage, it’s also good advice for you personally, regardless of your professional level.
Let’s begin by talking about you as the employee and then talk about you as an IT Manager. My question to you is this: Do you find meaning in your job or is it just a way to feed your family? Don’t get me wrong, working hard to feed your family is a noble and important goal, I have done it myself for most of my life. The questions behind the question are:
- Do you like what you are doing?
- Do you find meaning in your work?
- Come Friday afternoon (assuming you work standard business hours) are you thankful it’s a weekend because you are sick of your job or simply because you are looking forward to spending the weekend with loved ones?
- Does your job allow you to employ your best skills and talents?
- Is there some other job you would rather be doing?
- To coin an old expression, does your job get you juiced? (excited and energized)
My goal here is not to get you to quit your job. Rather, it’s to ask you to pause from your daily tasks for a few minutes and look at your job from the perspective of your values, interests, career objectives, and goals in life.
I’m asking you these questions for two reasons. First, as human beings, it’s a wonderful thing when people have meaningful and personally engaging work. It brings out the best in us. Therefore, as the reader of my column, I want to give you the personal benefit of this concept before describing how you can use it to help those working for you in the workplace. Second, helping your staff find meaning in their work can:
- Increase their productivity
- Enhance their job satisfaction
- Minimize employee turnover
- Grow employee engagement and motivation
- Build an atmosphere of innovation and teamwork
- Increase product/service quality
This may sound a little high reaching, but think about it this way. Do you do your best work when you are interested, engaged, and motivated or when you are unhappy, uninterested, and looking at the clock praying for the end of the workday to come quickly? Your staff members will answer this question the same way you just did. Hence, the more you can do as their manager to make them excited and energized about their work, the higher quality and higher value output you will get from them.
Certainly you can only do this within specified bounds, but next time you meet with one of your employees, consider asking what part of his/her job he/she likes the most and then try to expand that part of his/her workday. Then sit back and see what happens. Very probably the person will be happier, more highly motivated, work harder, and be more loyal to you for caring enough to ask the question and follow through on the answer you were given.
Taking this philosophy one step further, if you try this with multiple employees you may find that they all like doing slightly different things. Therefore, simply by redistributing the work to the people who like it best, you can greatly enhance your team’s productivity, thus, helping yourself.
One last point on this concept, of course there will be tasks that no one wants to do. You may find that the members of your team will be more willing to do the unwanted/unliked tasks because they appreciate the opportunity to get more of the work they do like. This is once again, a win for you as their manager.
Until next time, lead well, always communicate, and think business first and technology second.