Yesterday I shared with you survey results that said that “meaningful work” wins out over “more money” by almost 2 to 1. The takeaway for me, and maybe for you, is that what we think people want from their jobs may not be what they actually want. This is a classic leadership mistake. We “know” the people on our teams, except that we don’t actually know them. What we know comes from bits of data we have collected along the way and a wheelbarrow full of assumptions. Now, for the brave among us, I would offer up a strategic tactic with the “aha” takeaway of this recent survey in mind. What if, in your next 1:1 meeting with one of your direct reports (you do those, right?), you ask them this question: I’m curious, what do you find meaningful about your work here? If they stammer a bit, start shifting in their seat, and it becomes too awkward, offer them this lifeline: Let’s back up a bit, how would you define meaningful work? Certainly, if given the mental space, your superstar can answer this. The reason you are asking? You want your superstar to stick around. And, working with them to find and define meaning in their work is one free leadership tactic that might help.
Future leader speaker and author of the book Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future. Free stuff! Get the first five chapters of my new book, an executive summary, and the Future Leader Companion Workbook here.