Management Success Tip #169: Your Company’s Higher Purpose Will Attract Purpose-Driven, High Performing Employees

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There’s a story told of bricklayers carefully applying mortar to brick, constructing a wall. Most of them, when asked “What are you doing,” replied, “Building a wall” (“duh” implied). But one bricklayer, when asked what he was doing, replied, “I’m building a cathedral.” As indeed, in the bigger picture, he was.

Today’s workers want to be building cathedrals. Not in the literal sense, of course, but in the sense of greater purpose.

Increasingly, workers are asking that their jobs have meaning, have a purpose. That the companies they work for, the workplace where they spend the majority of their waking hours, have a social mission, or at the very least, a purpose greater than simply selling widgets.

For example, Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform, redefined its corporate structure so as to prioritize its social mission (funding creative projects) over profits: it became a public benefit corporation. With that, Kickstarter’s jobs page received a stunning increase in visits of 33%.

Now, where “purpose-driven employees” and “profits” align, is that workers who are purpose-driven, will work harder for companies with a greater purpose. So it is in your best interest, not only to look for potential hires who are purpose-driven, but to define your company’s purpose in a way that will attract those very hires, support their best performance, and retain them.

Your statement of greater purpose must be genuine, however. Purpose-driven workers are quick to sniff out any attempt at manipulation-via-greater-purpose-statement, and with the help of social media, the backlash would be swift and merciless.


Management Success Tip #167: What’s “Meaningful Work” Anyway? Find Out by Asking!

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People expect more from work now than a paycheck and decent working conditions. Especially the younger generations (read 40 on down) want purpose, a sense that their work is meaningful. It is what makes them happy. Studies have shown that workers are motivated most powerfully by making progress at something that is personally meaningful.

But what is that? What is personally meaningful to one employee may not be personally meaningful to another.

Don’t guess. You’re hardly the man behind the curtain: ask!

What Monique Valcour calls the “coaching” function of management: “. . . restrain your impulse to provide the answers. Your path is not your employeeʼs path. Open-ended questions, not answers, are the tools of coaching. You succeed as a coach by helping your team members articulate their goals and challenges and find their own answers. This is how people clarify their priorities and devise strategies that resonate with what they care about most and that they will be committed to putting into action.”

It may feel odd to you to ask open-ended questions of your employees: “What do you want for yourself this year?” “How do you see yourself developing your talents?” rather than “Do this, do that.” And “Tell me more” as a follow-up may really upset your usual managerial apple-cart. But the little bit of time and effort it may take to work with your employees in this manner will pay off big dividends in terms of their motivation and commitment.

Management Success Tip #128: Answer the Millennial Challenge: Allow Innovation and Give Feedback!

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Millennials are a challenge for many managers – even if you’re just one generation ahead of them. Much more so, often, if you’re a Boomer. Then we’re talking employees who seem to have come from different planets, not just different cohorts.

Which means you’re often hesitant to allow your Millennials much leeway. You’re more comfortable keeping them on a relatively short leash, doing just what you’ve asked them too, hopefully without too much complaining.

Ryan Currie, guest-posting at suggests your reluctance  may prevent you from benefiting from this generation as much as you could: “You’ll be shocked just how innovative and outside the box they can get if you give them room to take risks – reward your millennials for being outlandish, for having ‘big’ ideas, and for taking chances and they’ll impress you.”

Currie follows this up by stressing how very important feedback is to Millennials: “They don’t want you to micromanage and they don’t want to speak to you only at their biannual evaluation. They want you to take them to lunch and openly and honestly talk to them about their mistakes, their upcoming challenges, and what they’re doing right. They’re difficult to insult, those millennials, and that’s a good thing.”

There’s the answer: give your Millennials leeway to be innovative, and then talk to them, openly and honestly, about how that leeway is panning out. Your Millennial employees will feel empowered, and you won’t feel like you’re risking your company.

Management Success Tip #119: The Relevance of Meaning to Employee Performance

As we evolve as a species, meaning becomes more and more relevant. Not just personal meaning, the age-old question “Who am I and what am I doing here? What is my purpose?” but work-related meaning.

The Relevance of Meaning to Employee Performance

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With that, I was not surprised to learn of the recent encounter Mitch Barns, the new Nielsen CEO, had with a young leader who asked him two pointed questions at a Q&A session. “Do you think the work we do has any redeeming social value? And more specifically, do you think our work does any good in the world?”

This is a question asked more and more frequently by all of us in the workforce, not just our socially-and-community minded Millennials. And the more often you, as a manager, can help your employees see the meaning and purpose in their work, the more likely they are to perform at higher levels, while gaining personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

How does your company, your business, further the well-being of others? Of your customers/clients, those your customers/clients interact with? How does your company impact the community, the environment, the bigger social picture?

These questions can be answered by a Mom & Pop shop or a mid-sized service company, just as well as they can by an international corporation. The important thing is to answer them, and communicate those answers to your employees so they can work with a sense of purpose, knowing they are contributing something meaningful to their world.

Management Success Tip #89: Stop Dissing Your Millennials: Use Their Awesome Internet & Social Media Skills Instead!

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But here’s the thing: not everybody respects those oh-so-important features of your being, nor what they contribute to the workplace. Yet they should. Really.

Monique Valcour summarizes it well when she says: “One significant way in which Millennials are different from older generations is their relationship to and facility with technology. Using computers and social technology extensively since birth has shaped the ways in which they search for information, solve problems, relate to others, and communicate. They are adept at finding information and expect it to be readily available.”

That last line is the key: “adept at finding information.” There’s gold in them thar hills!

Use your Millennial employees’ swift and accurate ability to sift through the endless stream of cyber-information and social-media. Put them to work getting you the information you need: they’re good at it, they love it, and they do it well.

Yet another easy way to make your employees happy as they make you happy!

Management Success Tip #40: Beyond Instant Gratification: What if the Millennials Were Right?

Much has been made of the “me-me-me” ethic of the Millennials, as if that were all there is to this generation. People (especially Boomers) decry the Millennials’ selfishness and demand for immediate gratification.

But if you just look a hair beyond the surface of the Millennials’ “I want it and I want it now!!” you may find something very valuable for your business.

And that is, the true value of “Now!”

Social media has propelled our world into warp speed. Business is expected to keep up with consumer preferences and to deliver solutions to consumer problems at that same speed.

Yikes! That may seem near impossible, yet the Millennials, with their willingness to jump into new things with enthusiasm and creativity, are the very ones who can help businesses respond at social media speed.

In the recent Southwest Airlines debacle, where a computer glitch caused massive billing errors during what was supposed to be a terrific Facebook promotion, Southwest responded almost as quickly as the social media blasted the error all over the web. And SWA used social media to let people know why the problem happened and how they were handling it—along with appropriate apologies and immediate fixes.

Southwest may or may not have taken a page from the Millennials’ playbook in their response, but one thing is sure: your Millennial employees can help you brainstorm need-it-now ideas and solutions. Now!