After I recently guest lectured to MBA students at a local university, one of the students asked me a question about alignment. I explained that one of the most important things for a leader to do is to be able to connect long-term goals to short-term actions. And leaders can do that best when they can share the big picture.
As a leader, it is imperative that you always remind your team why they are there. Help them to understand the purpose behind your company. Give them a reason to see that the little actions they do every day are important to accomplishing a bigger goal. Help them to see that they are many artists contributing to one masterpiece.
No job is exciting all the time. There are times that every job will have its drudgery. You can either inspire your people to put in their best efforts in even the drudgery, or you can let them trudge on their own just for their paycheck. It’s your choice whether you will help your people see only the little areas they are contributing, or if you will help them see how they are contributing to the big picture.
Here are three ways you can remind your team of the big picture when they are trudging through their daily grind.
1. Help them see what they do in their job is important.
Your responsibility as a leader is to help your team see that their job is important in the big picture. It doesn’t matter how seemingly insignificant that job is, it is important to the overall purpose of the organization.
Help them to understand that everyone else’s job is important. Help everyone see how their job impacts everyone else. It helps people see the big picture when they understand how every job interrelates to what the company ultimately does. When they can see that the little piece that they do is important to everyone else, it changes how they see what they do.
Every job is important. Otherwise their job would not exist and they would not be working there. You will get the most out of your team if you help everyone to see that they are on the team and they are part of contributing to the big picture.
2. Help them see how they do their job is important.
When I wrote my book, Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew, I interviewed the JMU Dukes head football coach Mike Houston. In his first year as head coach for the JMU football team, Mike Houston led the Dukes to the FCS national championship.
When I asked Mike Houston about what goes into making a great team, he said, “As a leader you have to give your players an understanding that they are an important part of the process. Everyone has a role. Everyone has to embrace their role at their highest level.”
All of your team needs to believe they are able to do their job, and they are able to make a difference for the team. All work has value. It is your job as a leader to make sure that everyone on your team sees that their work is valuable and valued. By letting them know that you value their work, they will take pride in what they do and they will do it with all their ability.
Everyone on the team needs to realize that they matter to the team, and what they do matters to the team as well. Unless everyone believes the role they play is important, they will not do it to the best of their ability. But if they can see that what they do fits into the big picture, they are more likely to give their all.
3. Help them see why they are doing their job is important.
The why is the most important piece to tell your people. Seeing that they are contributing to something larger than themselves is an inspirational motivator. While everyone needs to make money at their jobs, no one wants to have just a job. Everyone wants to know they are making a difference by doing what they do.
Kenman Wong and Scott Rae write in their book Business for the Common Good that it is important to help everyone understand that what they do is important. “Serving one’s employees involves creating and maintaining an environment in which the company‘s mission is clear and that people have a sense that what they do matters, not only to the company but to the community and to themselves.” They go on to describe a woman named Shirley who worked in the hospital janitorial division of ServiceMaster. Shirley was inspired to give her best because she understood that her work contributed to a cause. She understood that quality cleaning helped the doctors and nurses care for the patients and ultimately helped the patients get well.
Understand that the purpose of your company is different than making money. Do not expect your team to work solely for a paycheck. Inspire them to something more. While money provides options, it does not provide happiness. Helen Keller said, “Many persons have the wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not obtained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
Help your team see what they do in their job is important, and how they do their job is important, and also why they are doing their job is important. You will have a more productive workforce and a more profitable company if your people are able to see themselves in the big picture.
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