Why do you come to work every day? Why do you stroll down to the local coffee shop? How do you get out of bed at 6am? Do you give your all for your employer every day? Or, as may be the case for many, it feels as though the next day will be very similar to this one. Welcome to today’s workplace where the only diktat is to grow revenue more than last year. Given that a lot of people questioned the meaning of their lives during the pandemic, is this motivational? Does it encourage people to go the extra mile? Will you take on more responsibilities and work more hours to grow revenue again? “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” While there are many interpretations of this bible reference, it can mean that without a path or objective, people have meaningless lives or that they are dissatisfied and unmotivated. So, today we explore groundhog day for employees without a compelling vision or plan.
Groundhog day for employees
First of all, let’s navigate the awkward fact that some jobs are routine and repetitive. It may not feel like it’s changing the world when you are cleaning or sorting parcels but it does matter. Without cleaning, a restaurant would lose its visitors. Without sorting parcels, some parcels may get delayed or even lost. Clearly, in these two very simple examples, there is a purpose to the work. However, it is the same day-in and day-out for those employees. Some employers don’t see the need to provide a vision to employees at all, believing them to be grateful just to have a job. Others use coercion and control to try and force employees to work as they want them to do.
For anyone who has watched the movie by the same title, there comes a point that the novelty of the situation wears a little thin. The main character realises that nothing matters and that whatever he does, it will start again tomorrow. It may be funny to watch, but the despair of the situation is real if there is no escape. Fortunately for many workers, they can at least try to change employer. It is perhaps no coincidence that many repetitive jobs like this are zero hours or via temp agencies supplying workers to many customers. This at least varies the work, though it probably has neither a vision or a plan to make things (or the wider world) better.
A compelling vision
“Excellence, simply delivered.” This is the vision (slogan) for a popular delivery company. It certainly says what it does on the tin. It implies that we focus on excellence and go about delivering your goods with the minimum of fuss. We can’t say for sure if this is what happens all of the time but it is at least clear. However, for someone scanning parcels every day, they already know that they need to scan the parcels in or out with routine efficiency. No amount of slogans will change the actual job that person does. So, how does that person motivate themselves to come to work? What makes them want to excel at their job every day and progress up the ladder? Probably not that slogan.
Without picking on too many organisations, you may have heard things like “Together. Connected.” or “Driving your future.” or “High performance. Delivered.” Sure, they are easy to understand but perhaps difficult to translate further down the chain. Ultimately, it depends on the experience delivered to your employees as to whether they believe in any such vision. A bold statement means nothing if the organisation is perceived as just a pay cheque. Why is this so important? Notice that all of these slogans imply some form of excellence and an experience. Best to make sure that your employees are having a great experience before making such commitments.
A plan and a credible roadmap
Every leader believes that they will make a huge difference to an organisation just by being a part of it. Soundbites, slogans and three-letter acronyms are not solely the preserve of politicians. No, no, no. Many a CEO or managing director espouses a better future for employees and the company. After 5-6 years in-post, did the organisation change beyond recognition? Similarly, when a political party moves on, do high-speed train links and information worker jobs suddenly appear? Apathy is spreading both politically and within organisations when people in positions of authority make their bold claims. Just as a political party manifesto no longer seems to be worth the paper it’s written on, neither are some CEO statements. After all, does the person at the helm, with all the trappings of their position, want to rock the boat too much?
Typically, leaders are great communicators. They speak with passion and conviction and tell stories that bring the listener on a journey with them. They espouse a vision of what they will achieve if you vote for them or if you focus on what they want you to do in future years. But, deep down, we all suspect a lot of this will never happen, but we like them enough at this point. The truly effective leaders can convince us that they have the skills, the tenacity and the plan to get us to where they are promising.
Show us a roadmap of what you intend to achieve over what time period and we may go along with it. At least, that is what should happen. Breaking people out of the cycle of monotony at work requires someone who can stand up with a plan and articulate your part in that plan. So, why do so few leaders do it?
Concluding on groundhog day for employees
Nobody wants to come to work to be bored. In fact, studies suggest that for a large percentage of us, our work actually comes to define how we value ourselves. So, if bosses cannot conjure up a vision of a better organisation, better jobs or a better world, why would we give our best?
If you need help with your vision, your value proposition, your employee experience or your strategic planning, Think Beyond is a handy partner. We support you to achieve your targets in the right way. We support your organisation to deliver for the multitude of stakeholders internally and externally. In summary, we offer no-nonsense services to alleviate your frustrations and identify improvements.