“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
We all need purpose and vision – an idea of where we’re going. We need a sense that our efforts are producing something of value to ourselves, our company, our families, our communities, our planet.
Purpose gives us direction. Without it, we tend to go in circles or on wild tangents, expending time, energy and resources without achieving any real sense of accomplishment.
When we move along the path of our purpose, though, we derive deep satisfaction. We feel an upsurging, “Yes! This is what I’m here for!”
When we work on purpose, we’re motivated, encouraged and enthusiastic about doing the job at hand. We are engaged.
With a global employee engagement rate of only 20%, it seems that there quite a bit of room for improving that sense of purpose in the workplace.
The first principle of Authentic Communication, BE, might offer some helpful insight here.
As Authentic Communicators, we believe that all communication begins with the communicator. We practice self-reflection to strengthen our understanding of ourselves. We set judgment aside and look at who we are as communicators, as teammates, as human beings on the great adventure of life.
We are not looking to change who we are. We are, instead, doing the honest and fearless work of getting to know – and accept – ourselves. This is when we pull back the layers to know the truth of who we are. For how can we practice Authentic Communication without a genuine connection to what is true, meaningful, and authentic for us as individuals?
There are many paths to self-awareness. One of my favorites is mindfulness. A daily sitting practice in which I observe the fluctuations of my mind has been a reliably honest teacher about my own patterns, habits, self-deceptions, and unique magnificence.
Another favorite of mine is Values Discovery. This is a two-part process. First, we rank our personal values using an organic system that mimics the way the mind prioritizes core beliefs in any real-world situation. Then, we tell stories that help us connect with these values – stories that bring our own values to life.
With self-awareness (or, “BE”) practices like these, we bring what is hidden into the light so that we can become aware of the parts of ourselves that, though perhaps not obvious to us, have a profound influence on our behaviors.
If, for example, we are not aware of or connected with our values, we lack a basic understanding of whether the work we’re doing is aligned with what is true and authentic for us.
Being in sync with our values needs knowledge of and engagement with those values. When we are in sync with our values, we are on purpose, full of energy, teeming with meaning and satisfaction. Being out of sync with our values – that is, not knowing them, not being connected with them, or not choosing to express them – can translate into doing work in a way that is unproductive, irrelevant, and even sabotages good results.
You can uncover a wealth of energy and engagement in your team by encouraging BE practices. Invite team members to commit to a discipline that develops self-awareness – daily journaling, mindfulness, values explorations, working with a coach. Then have them buddy-up with a teammate to share their BE journey. In this way, they can support and encourage each other, and hold each other accountable, too.
And please let me know what you discover about yourselves and your teams. I have no doubt that it will be magnificent.
1. Good News and Bad News
First the good news. Better interpersonal communication means stronger relationships and tighter teamwork. That translates into higher employee engagement, higher productivity, higher profitability – not to mention the mental health improvements that come when people experience more joy, purpose and vitality at work.
Now the bad news. Gallup’s most recent State of the Global Workplace Report says that 80% of employees globally (and 89% in Western Europe) are not engaged at work.
This is a crisis of massive proportion. It creates a climate for burnout, excessive stress and personal breakdowns. And, it's a major financial drain.
Companies of all sizes are losing significant amounts of money from higher absenteeism and lower productivity. One estimate says that every disengaged employee costs a company the equivalent of 34% of that person’s salary.
What does that mean for you? Well, add up all the money you pay your people, multiply that by 80% of the number of employees in your organization, and then multiply that by 34%. That’s a lot of cash going right out the door.
Back to the good news. You can help make work work better for your employees, yourself and your company. Applying the principles of Authentic Communication can help. I’ll be writing a short series of articles on how you can introduce this simple and rich methodology to help re-ignite enthusiasm and engagement in your team.
You can also check out my video, which talks about the employee engagement crisis and two other workplace trends of our time: trust erosion and loss of psychological safety.
I’d love to read your comments and learn how you support your teams and colleagues so they feel more engaged at work.
#Teamwork is #LovingWork
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