Last week, I was invited to speak at The Ken Blanchard Companies as part of Grand Canyon Universities’ Executive Series. The presentation was called Work On Purpose: 4 Secrets to Connect Who You Are With What You Do. I opened by telling a story about a career-changing event that happened in my car while driving to work one morning. By the end of the presentation, I’d challenged the audience to connect who they were with what they did for a living. Then I took questions. Here was Question No. 1:
You left your job in order to find work with purpose. Do you think all people who are unhappy in their jobs should look for work with a purpose like you did?”
“Should I quit my job?” is a question on the minds of many of today’s workers.
As author and Fast Company contributor, Mark C. Crowley, notes, “Over the past year, Gallup researchers interviewed nearly 150,000 workers–people in all states and industries–and discovered that a stunning number are miserable in their jobs. More specifically, only 30% of the nation’s working population today admits to being fully engaged at work.”
Employees are feeling the fatigue of doing more with less. To cut costs, many businesses laid off workers. The survivors assumed extra duties to keep things humming. But over time, the stress of added responsibilities takes a toll. Often, new duties do not match their skills — duties that previously were handled by their downsized colleagues. And where there’s a mismatch, there’s more stress, unhappiness, and the potential for disengagement.
If you are among the 7 out of 10 workers suffering from “lean fatigue,” I suggest you take time to reflect before you refresh your resume. Here are 3 questions you should ask yourself first:
1. Am I Adding or Subtracting? The late, great motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said if you help other people get what they want, those people will help you get what you want. Are you looking for people to help you? Or are you looking for ways to help people? If you’re waiting for others to solve your engagement issue, you could be waiting a really long time. Break the habit of waiting for things to change, and look for ways to add value to every interaction at work.
2. Am I Using My Skills Instead of My Strengths? Author and consultant Marcus Buckingham suggests that we have a moral duty to understand our greatest strengths because our teams should use us where we are our strongest. He notes that this is harder to do than you might think because your strengths come so easily to you that you barely recognize them. It’s entirely possible to slide into a career that matches your skill set but not your greatest strengths. Here are Buckingham’s tips to pinpoint your strengths.
3. Am I Working from a Roadmap? Many people are not. They go through their careers like passengers on a bus. Scenes fly by the windows for mile after mile. Seatmates come and go. Opportunities to get off occur at regular intervals. But the hum of the road dulls their senses, and soon they end up lost. Their personal plans and dream destinations long forgotten. Use the simple guide in my free ebook, Work on Purpose, to create a Purpose Plan for yourself. Of course, it’s possible to find meaningful work without a Purpose Plan, just as you can get to your destination by riding a bus. But, with a plan, you are more likely to be alert and stay on your truth path.
I’m not suggesting that leaders should not take primary responsibility for the abysmal levels of employee engagement today. I’m suggesting that the turbulence of the last few years is likely to continue. While leaders struggle to create real change, challenge yourself to actively look for ways to add value, know your strengths, and have a roadmap to connect who you are with what you do.
Question: What one thing can you change to improve your engagement level at work? Please leave your comment below.