I was checking the statistics here to discover the search engine queries that bring people to All Things Workplace. I figured that the keywords were going to be mostly about leadership or management.
I was wrong.
"Job Satisfaction"..."Happiness at Work"..."Where Can I Find the Best Job?"..."Strengths and Weaknesses"..."How Can I Find A Job Where the Boss Listens to Me?"...those were the themes. Career issues--sometimes disguised as communications--turned out to be the number one driver.
Make no mistake. People are searching for how to feel good at work. We want to do well...and we want to feel good in the process.
Think about two variables
There's a relationship between how much you love your job and how well you perform. That's not a mystery. But there is a dynamic you need to know about in order to manage yourself and others:
1. Some people have to feel good about their job and their workplace before they can get busy and perform at their max.
2. Others have to have to first achieve super results in order to feel good about their jobs.
It's a "Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?" phenomenon. I picked up on this some years ago during a stretch where I was diagnosing "performance issues" for a client.
My conclusion: Managers hadn't caught onto the validity of the two approaches to performance. Naturally, the "feel good first" people were perceived as weenie-like non-performers. However, they actually had a huge commitment to doing well. They just needed something else to help them be able to get there.
What was it? They wanted the managers to understand who they were and what made them tick. That went along way to having the "right feeling" about the job.
The second category of people wanted a scorecard. They weren't about to "feel" good until they checked off their tasks and accomplishments.
Target yourself and your people
1. Which approach most naturally fits you? Figure out what that means to the way you work and the way your work is managed. Then talk with your manager about your desire to excel and how you might use this natural preference to make that happen.
2. Managers: The next time you're in a meeting (or one-on-one), have an informal conversation about the two approaches. Let people talk about what comes first for them. You'll learn a lot about how to manage each person; and they'll get more of what they need in order to hit the top of the job satisfaction/high performance curve.
Do you come onto the work scene each day with one of these in the front of your mind? How does that play out for your job satisfaction and performance?
This post first ran in June, 2008. The issue of Workplace Happiness is still thriving across the entire range of social media and professional publications, so I thought a little "re-visit" might be worthwhile.