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What to Do When Work Feels Meaningless

Small actions

You may feel overwhelmed and obsess over the big things you can't influence. Instead, try to act on whatever aspect you can control, regardless how small.

Try a number of things and see what works. Small actions can generate feedback and allow you to discover more meaningful goals.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

What to Do When Work Feels Meaningless

What to Do When Work Feels Meaningless

https://hbr.org/2020/06/what-to-do-when-work-feels-meaningless

hbr.org

4

Key Ideas

A feeling of purpose

During crises, we can feel a heightened sense of purpose and connection. Crises lead many people to find deep value in their work, develop professionally, and grow personally.

While most of us don't have frontline roles, we can still discover ways to contribute through our everyday work.

Small actions

You may feel overwhelmed and obsess over the big things you can't influence. Instead, try to act on whatever aspect you can control, regardless how small.

Try a number of things and see what works. Small actions can generate feedback and allow you to discover more meaningful goals.

Consider your unique skills

Proactive employees use an approach where they redesign their work to better fit their strengths and interests.

During the current crisis you can fight the recession by keeping your business functioning, thereby feeding families. More significantly, you can shape your job to contribute solutions to the current problems of your community. By partnering with others, you can maximize your impact.

An opportunity to connect

If you're in a tight situation, you may not be able to do much to enhance the meaningfulness of your work. However, you can find meaning by envisioning the future.

Think what your potential dream job might be in 10 years' time. Imagine many jobs. Now work backward to find the paths that will lead you there. Also explore where your current projects and passions could lead you.

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Uncertainty Triggers Fear

Constant communication with the team is crucial for a manager, and the current state of affairs, when the world is in turmoil and most employees are sitting at home, it is increasingly difficult fo...

Two Tasks of a Manager

  • The first task for a manager is to be transparent, explaining to the team exactly what is known, and what isn’t known, and not to keep any team member in the dark.

  • The second task is to provide hope and a sense of possibility to the employees facing an uncertain future ahead.

Steel Yourself

Before any word is uttered to the employees, you need to understand your role and channel your leader 'avatar' in a time of crisis, as if preparing for a battle. Your steel nerves will be contagious(!) to your team members. You need to sound convincing, and it’s a good idea to follow the basics, like eating well, plenty of sleep and regular exercise.

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A long-term response

Global crises are always challenging to navigate. When the time for immediate response passes, we have to dig in for the long haul.

Factors that influence operations going forward will ...

An employee-driven approach

Employees' health and well-being should come first. There may be a perceived choice between productivity and well-being. But, engagement is a natural by-product of well-being.

People are worried about health, job security, their kids' education, life on the other side of the crisis. Micro-managing will not create focus. Tactics like time-tracking software will only compound the problem. Instead, focus on easing their fears. The more distractions we as leaders can clear away, the more effective our people will be.

Guiding principles for a crisis response

  • Part of the response is to hold performance and growth check-ins to acknowledge the contribution each employee is making and help them manage their longer-term professional goals.
  • Err on the side of overcommunicating. Create a communication plan and be consistent. E.g., a daily email from the heads of each unit, or video messages from the CEO. Share even the bad news, to prevent employees from inventing their own stories to fill the void.
  • Keep a tight feedback loop. Know how your employees are coping, how their work is affected, and how they think leadership can help.
  • Be mindful of the resources you're consuming. Don't consume additional masks, disinfectants, and other supplies that hospitals need.

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A Central Management Tool

A Central Management Tool

Physical presence does play a large part in moving our projects forward. Managing a project remotely requires a diligent and transparent approach to keep track and maintain the various tasks, deadl...

Keep teammates accountable

Creating accountability is a great way to manage the work remotely. Accountability is shifted to the teammates, who are now supposed to be responsible for their own work and decisions.

One way to build accountability in remote teams is to assign groups and let teammates hold each other responsible. Also make teammates share their work experience and any issues they face, publicly (within the team) so that it acts as a ready solution for others, reducing repeat work.

Document Everything

Even if the team is small, document, formalize and map each process, making it scalable and automatic.

Standard Operating Procedures, if used correctly in a remote setting, can act like a central nervous system.

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