What we do matters. Meaningful work often brings a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment to our lives. However, I want to pose an opinion that what we do should take a backseat to how we do it. There is a distinct difference between simply getting things done and acknowledging the hopes, dreams, and longings of other people along the way. How we work matters. The way we interact with others while we carry out the everyday tasks of life can either make or break that sense of fulfillment that we all crave through meaningful work. Are those we work with simply pawns in our chess game or rather critical components of a puzzle that is being creatively and masterfully drawn together through our daily routines? It is my assertion that an organization can only thrive when those involved within the organization truly succeed. This means that there is more at stake than profits and losses. While quarterly figures are ciritical for the trajectory of an organization, they do not fully tell the tale of organizational health. In today's economic climate, organizations are celebrated and shamed by their bottom line. However, some of the seemingly "overnight success" stories were not at all quick in their development. Rather, these are organizations who have adapted to changes in their field while caring for and highly valuing their employees, stakeholders, and customers.
Just yesterday, my family was enjoying a hamburger and fries at a local chain with its origins here in Central Arkansas. I noticed smiling faces, hot food, and pictures of the founding family posted on the wall. Its no wonder that this restaurant has grown to 8 locations in less than 10 years. What does this organization and other growing and successful organizations in our city like Tacos 4 Life, the Conway Chamber of Commerce, and the Faulkner County Senior Citizens Center have in common? Here are a few common denominators:
A) Healthy & Consistant Leadership
B) Organizational Clarity
C) Open Dialogue
Healthy & Consistent Leadership:
In every successful organization, there is a healthy leader or team of leaders who is consistently present. Every time the Undercover Boss* spends time his employees on the front lines, the organization wins. Good leaders create & maintain open door policies with the people they serve.
Why are we doing what we do? This question cannot be overstated. Passion is of utmost importance and one must believe in what he or she is doing in order to make any necessary and personal sacrifices for the good of the whole. Each member of our tribe must be able to answer the question, "why does this matter?"
Can the members of our organization communicate openly about their hopes, dreams, and fears? Are the platforms in place to have this type of conversation and connection among peers? Do we plan and execute regular opportunities to facilitate open dialogue?
Some of the most sad and unsuccessful organizations that I have come across have great-intentioned leaders. Struggles can manifest themselves through poorly functioning teams, lack of execution, and even overwhelmed and overworked leadership. We must become excellent at follow-through in order to get our vision to where our people live.
In conclusion, I believe that what we do tells a story. It tells a story about what moves us and what we truly believe in. Some of the happiest people I have ever met make below average incomes and often go above and beyond the call of duty to sacrifice those whom they serve. In contrast, some of the most miserable people I have ever met are the most wealthy. They seem to grow increasingly dissatisfied in their field of work and live from vacation to vacation. Regardless of your current work context, I believe there is satisfaction to be had. The satisfaction that I refer to must stem from a general love of mankind and can only exist by shifting from seeing others as a means to your end to seeing others as a worthwhile investment of your time, energy, and money. When we pour into other people and help them to fulfill their own goals, dreams, and aspirations, good things happen. This helps the people around us win. When people around us win, they are more willing to sacrifice for the greater good. When people sacrifice, organizations win and fulfill the vision that they set out to achieve. In the meatime, the world becomes a better place and we become the healthy and whole people that we were originally designed by God to be.