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Team leaders use these techniques to produce meaningful work

21 September, 2017

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Date of Publication: 21 September, 2017
The Japanese call it “ikigai”. It’s the reason for living or, more substantially, the inner motivation that makes you wake up every morning. What are the things you can't wait to experience? What do you want to accomplish? That’s your daily drive, a concept that can also be applied to work life. As a manager, your drive involves people: leading them, coaching them, solving problems together. And taking care of their ikigai. How can you help your employees find and nurture a strong inner drive at work?

1) Find what they’re good at

Professor Cal Newport is a strong supporter of competence against passion: in his book “So good they can’t ignore you”, Newport suggests that true satisfaction comes from becoming good at something, whatever that is.

If your team members don’t feel motivated, help them identify their strengths. Encourage learning. Work towards expertise, both in hard and soft skills: you need the genius technician just as you need the creative problem-solver.

Feeling recognized as an expert - even an expert at customer relationships - is a boost of the highest type for morale and productivity.


2) Stimulate high-level thinking

It’s easy to forget the deeper meaning of daily office tasks. This is true not only for busy work: when your team lacks motivation, important activities can nevertheless be perceived as dull. A routine project could look like a waste of time, no matter how big the company mission is printed on that poster on the office wall.

But one must always consider consequences. E.g. that uninteresting activity may be a foot in the door of a new, exciting client. The hours spent crafting Powerpoint presentations about procedures and methods could end up reshaping the company culture. And so on.

Your team should consider this: what they are doing is always something higher than the task they are performing.


3) Focus on relationships

For many people, the biggest drive - and the scariest obstacle - is interacting with people. We look forward to meeting those we like; right as much as we feel uncomfortable being around co-workers, bosses and clients we don’t know too well, or by whom we feel judged for some reason.

Fortunately, doing meaningful work is a tonic for relationships. Feeling useful, expert, impactful, greatly reinforces our personal bonds in and out of the office.

Improving social connections is more than a legit reason for your employees to pursue excellence at their job.

And having a motivated team that respects and follows you will be great for your ikigai. Guaranteed.

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