As an employee are you truly happy in your job or are you just marking time? If, lately it takes all the mental strength and energy that you possess to get out of bed and into the office in the mornings to face your colleagues, it would seem as if somewhere something has gone horribly wrong. Surely, your angst did not just happen over-night, so what is it that you and I as employees really and truly want?
We remember it as if it were yesterday, after months (perhaps years) of applying when we finally landed a job. Mind, you it was not the cushy one with the leather-backed swivel chair and the BMW in the parking lot, that we imagined but we decided to work with the programme and jumped right in with much, vim, vigour and, as they say, vitality. We are now in our third year and we wonder why do bother to make that fateful trek to work. Each day becomes a new adventure in plotting our escape from the corporate jungle. If it is not working out, what is it that we want?
I have done a very informal survey of the Jamaican employees and the first answer that they give is that 'more dollars' on their monthly stipend will make them happy — nothing else. I am not sure that that is the full picture, because there are some people with well-paying jobs who would, tomorrow gladly work in under-ground mines with all its lurking dangers, than continue employment with their current supervisors. So, money is not it at all for everyone.
Teresa Amabile is a professor and director of research at Harvard Business School and Steven Kramer is a developmental psychologist and researcher, they are coauthors of The Progress Principle. They have both shed a light of this vexing question. Over the past 15 years, they have studied what makes people happy and engaged at work. Their research method was simple: they collected confidential electronic diaries from 238 professionals in seven companies, each day for several months and overall those diaries described nearly 12,000 days -- how people felt, and the events that stood out in their minds.
Systematically analysing those diaries, they compared the events occurring on the best days with those on the worst and what they discovered was that the key factor that can be used to make employees miserable on the job is "to simply keep them from making progress in meaningful work." Said the writers, "People want to make a valuable contribution, and feel great when they make progress toward doing so. Knowing this progress principle is the first step to knowing how to destroy an employee's work life.
Many leaders, from team managers to CEOs, are already surprisingly expert at smothering employee engagement. In fact, on one-third of those 12,000 days, the person writing the diary was either unhappy at work, demotivated by the work, or both." It is true too, think about how many times you yourself think that you are on the brink of handing the company the key to their success, only to have it side-swiped and trampled on by your team members or supervisors. It hurts doesn't it?
In an article entitled, "How to utterly and completely destroy your employees work life" Amabile and Kramer pointed out that in their journey to discover the answer to what makes an employee happy, they said that they also learned a lot about unhappiness at work. Amabile and Kramer pointed to several ways in which employees were frustrated. If you want to be a dream-killer manager they pointed out that there were several dozen ways to inhibit employees' progress.
"Goal-setting is a great place to start. Give conflicting goals, change them as frequently as possible, and allow people no autonomy in meeting them. If you get this formula just right, the destructive effects on motivation and performance can be truly dramatic." Have you ever had a supervisor who does this in your company? How often does it make you want to scream and head for the hills?
Killing the messenger was another way to make people at work miserable. Said the authors,
"If you do get wind of problems in the trenches, deny, deny, deny. And if possible, strike back. Here's a great example from our research. In an open Q&A with one company's chief operating officer, an employee asked about the morale problem and got this answer: "There is no morale problem in this company. And, for anybody who thinks there is, we have a nice big bus waiting outside to take you wherever you want to look for work."
Employees spend most of their lives working in organisations, most of them who have not gotten to be jaundiced over time, genuinely want to be a part of the total experience in the growth and development of their workplace. How will we as their colleagues and supervisors make a difference in their lives?
Yvonne Grinam-Nicholson, (MBA, ABC) is a Business Communications Consultant with RO Communications Jamaica, specializing in business communications and financial publications. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at www.rocommunications.com and post your comments.