Maybe work is not supposed to be fun. After all, perhaps that is why it is called “work.” However, I take the view that work can be fulfilling and, at times, even fun. It doesn’t always seem like fun, though. You might even awaken excited for what will occur that day, walk into work in a cheery, optimistic mood and, before 8am, something happens to destroy that feeling. What are those things that rob work of the fun and fulfillment that it should bring. How can we eliminate or, at least manage, those things? Let take a look at a few of those things that rob work of fun:
- The feeling that you are adding no value – When you feel that the things you do have no real value to the company, to the ultimate customer, or anyone else, you tend to feel that your work is useless. You begin wondering what purpose you fulfill. And, you begin looking at your work as a job, not a career… as a paycheck, not as one that benefits others. The converse, of course, is work that you know matters to coworkers and customers. Knowing that someone is depending upon you makes a huge difference in your attitude and, frankly, the fulfillment you get from your work. By looking for how your work ties to others and the ultimate customer, you may find value in your work that you did not know existed. Or, by shifting what you do from less value adding to something more so, you will certainly regain some of the fun that you deserve to feel.
- Being excluded – Everyone feels better about their work when they feel they have input into what is done and how it is done. When you are excluded, you lose confidence and interest. As a leader, it is important to ensure that every employee has some part in the process and input into their job. Allowing this input also ensures that there is buy-in and personal attachment to the work, its quality, and its impact on the business.
- Bosses that micromanage – In my personal history, I was always the least motivated and least fulfilled when my boss micromanaged my work. When you are fully capable of doing a job and a manager insists on managing every detail of the job, the employee simply feels inadequate and disengaged. Allowing employees adequate freedom to perform their job instills a sense a pride in the work that makes the work more fun.
- Lack of relationships or connections – When an individual feels all alone in a job, they tend to derive less enjoyment out of that job. Having comrades that share challenges and victories makes the work much more satisfying. And, relationships tend to help you stay grounded, realistic, and true to your values.
- Petty rules and requirements – Nothing sucks the enjoyment out of a job more than the presence of petty, ridiculous rules and requirements. Elimination of these non-valued added rules can visibly improve the morale and improve productivity within days.
- Lack of autonomy – Employees gain fulfillment from being able to utilize their skills and abilities to make contributions. When they lose the ability to operate with some independence, they quickly lose interest altogether. Freeing employees to have appropriate autonomy is an overnight success regarding employee satisfaction and engagement.
- Unreasonable expectations – When employees feel that their job is impossible or that they are given unreasonable demands of performance, they quickly lose interest. I once worked with an individual in R&D that was given around 60 different development projects to accomplish in one year. This was simply impossible and everyone knew it. The management theory was to give an impossible number of projects and hope that even half or more were accomplished. Thus, 30 projects completed would be better than simply targeting 20 or 25, a reasonable target. However, the employee was disheartened by this impossible demand and soon left the company for a job more reasonable and predictable. Setting achievable, but challenging, targets are usually seen as a motivator, but an unattainable target extinguishes enthusiasm quickly.
- Unfair treatment or being disrespected – Everyone expects to be treated fairly or with respect in the workplace. When this does not happen, the joy of the job quickly dissipates. Bosses that have “favorites” or employees that always get the most difficult tasks rob individuals of their enthusiasm for their work.
- Lack of connection of your work to the big picture – When your work has no connection to the company strategy, it is easy to feel that your work has no value. Knowing that you are part of something bigger than your own job or own work helps motivate you to achieve more and enjoy it more. Finding a way to connect your job to the customer is usually a strong motivator and improves the quality and service of the work performed.
- Friendly fire – When employees are mistreated, disrespected, or their work is denounced by others, they quickly lose the will to continue. Knowing that you have the respect of those around you can spur you to success greater than otherwise believed. Leaders must quickly identify and extinguish internal conflict and “friendly fire” to avoid demotivating the team.
We don’t have to be locked into a situation in which we have no joy in the work we do. And, as leaders, we need to ensure that these situations do not exist for our team members. When employees are engaged and enjoy what they do, I guarantee they will produce more results, faster, and with greater quality.
Have a “top ten” day! Find something good in the work you do today.