We make meaning out of the work that we do. Work, itself though, isn’t meaning – it’s just work.
The process of how we make this meaning differs for each individual and I think that how we process it also evolves as our lives change.
For instance, as a single, un-married person, I saw work in one particular way but the moment that I was married things changed. And, of course, the moment I became a father my perspective changed once again.
These are the meta-movements of my thinking but there are also micro-changes that happen every year, sometimes so imperceptible that you wouldn’t naturally realize it. But, it’s happening.
When you lead an organization it’s hard to keep these things in mind when you hire and manage other folks. Every person has their more obvious and visceral motives for being there while there are many motivations that are beneath the surface, sometimes unknown to all parties (including themselves).
The only remedy (is one really necessary…?) is to dialogue through it. To ask the honest and sometimes hard questions of your team:
- Why does this matter to you?
- Why are you here?
- Why this company when there are so many others to choose from?
- What drives you? What motivates you?
- What outcomes do you really want to see? What outcomes do you not care so much about?
… things like that.
Remember: Money is the easiest problem to solve and, in and of itself, doesn’t actually have much meaning.