Why isn’t work meaningful for all?


A recent McKinsey report talks about MQ ( along the same lines as IQ and Goleman’s EQ).  The term stands for ‘meaning at work.

The report goes on to talk about how people who really understand how their work has meaning are able to be much more productive.  This feeling of ‘meaning’ is often described as a sense of being in ‘flow’ or being in the zone.

It isn’t difficult to see how some people in the workplace find it hard to reconcile their daily tasks with the organisation’s bigger goals. Some feel alienated and unhappy about not knowing what’s going on.  Often people are even more frustrated by having no control over what happens to them or their team mates.

The report talks about the importance of telling stories for adding meaning.  The best stories relate specifically to how each individual makes a difference to the outcomes of the work they are involved in.

This communications focus shouldn’t be on counting widgets or how many calls they manage in a short time frame, but instead on how their work makes a difference – to their customers, their workmates and their community, as well as to themselves.  The stories are even more effective if each person tells their own.

This is a salutary message to everyone involved in implementing change. Big picture images, statistics and logical messages might be fine for the already converted, but to the individual employees  need real stories that they can relate to.  Even better would be to get them to write their stories themselves.

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