Making a Difference
How does your role make a difference?
This is a powerful question which I have started to ask when I am connecting with employees about their progress and potential. Research has proven that people who feel they are making a difference at work have higher levels of engagement and greater overall wellbeing.
Gallup recently identified that nearly 50% of America's working population are actively searching for jobs and watching out for new opportunities. Gallup re-framed the current societal "Great Resignation" into the "Great Discontent". Their data supports that the rise in resignations is not an industry, role or pay issue - it is a discontent with the workplace issue.
While it takes more than a 20% increase in salary to lure away an engaged employee, it takes next to nothing to poach a disengaged worker.
Maslow's famous human needs model places esteem and self-actualization at the top of the pyramid. In the workplace, esteem aligns with feelings of value, inclusion and accomplishment. Leaders can nurture these feelings by enabling others to act with autonomy, by providing continuous forward-focused coaching and expressing genuine and personalized appreciation.
Self-actualization is when we feel our roles (what we do) intersect with our souls (who we are) and we work with purpose. To elevate feelings of self-actualization, leaders can get to know the talents and aspirations of every person on their team and identify assignments and career pathways to help navigate employees to that aspirational intersection where role meets soul.
The highest level of self-actualization at work is to discover and integrate purpose into your job. Aristotle is quoted as saying that "At the intersection where your talents, gifts and abilities meet a human need, therein you will discover your purpose". As leaders, we can help employees define their purpose by aiming their unique talents towards "human needs". These can be client or customer needs and/or organizational needs; aligning talents to advance the mission, vision and values of your company.
An accelerant to helping your team identify their talents and strengths is Gallup's CliftonStrengths assessment. My "Top 5" strengths are Strategic (intuitive), Ideation (creative), Futuristic (inspiring), Positivity (hopeful) and Achiever (motivated). The way I intentionally aim my talents towards the needs of other people is to invest in the career development of my team members. I connect the talents of team members to the clients and customers they serve. In doing so, I am positively impacting their wellbeing and engagement and helping them feel included, valued and empowered - and that's how I make a difference.
In your next 1:1 session with your employees, go ahead and ask the question "how does your role make a difference"? If answering is a struggle, ask about recent successes and what aspects of their job they have been most proud of. Work with your team to connect their daily responsibilities to the the mission, values and purpose of your organization. If possible, identify the talents of your employees with CliftonStrengths and find ways the team members can aim their strengths towards the needs of people - and in doing so discover their purpose.
If the answer to "how does your role make a difference" comes quickly then follow it up with the next question..."how would you like to make a BIGGER difference?"!
I am a Senior Director in Sales at Universal Orlando and a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. I have a passion for studying and driving employee engagement. My purpose is to connect the talent of team members to the clients and customers they serve.
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