In working with thousands of managers around the world, I’ve discovered that fewer than 5% report really knowing the people on their team. Managers don’t know what impact their teams want to make. They don’t know what work relationships matter to them. And they don’t know how they best grow and develop their employees as people and professionals.
Managers are Ill-Equipped to Create Purpose at Work
Even managers who report having a good rapport with their team members don’t always have the tools to truly understand each person’s strengths and goals. They don’t know what creates purpose for their teams in their work.
Creating a positive work culture is not enough. I might share an occasional laugh and Friday beer with my team, but this type of connection does not offer a real deep dive for me to know them as individuals and professionals. Therefore, as managers, we are unable to fully empower our people to lead meaningful professional lives and reach their full potential.
When so few managers are equipped to empower their teams to gain meaning from their work, as an employee you’re pretty much left hoping that you get a manager with the skills to support you as an individual.
It Starts With You
When it comes to your professional development and the future of your career, leaving things up to chance is not enough. It is up to you to help your manager ‘get’ you. The first step in that process is to get to know yourself. While only 5% of managers report truly understanding anyone on their team, less than half of those employees have the self-awareness about their own needs to really advocate for themselves.
Here are the three questions you need to ask yourself to gain the self-awareness to partner with your manager to bring more fulfillment to your work.
- What makes you feel at the end of a day like you made a difference? Why?
- What relationships in your work give you the greatest sense of meaning and energy? Why?
- What makes you feel at the end of a day that you grew as a personal and professional? Why?
Partner with Your Manager
With greater self-awareness of what you need to gain fulfillment at work, you are prepared to talk to your manager. Start the conversation in a positive place and make it a two-way conversation. Here is a great way to structure the conversation.
- Share with your manager specific examples of recent times when you felt your work made a meaningful impact, when you felt a connection with someone at work, and when you felt you grew as a person.
- Ask your manager the above question about their own sense of impact, important relationships and personal growth and compare your answers.
- Based on both of your responses, identify a few ways you can both make small changes in the next week to intentionally increase your sense of purpose at work.
This is an easy and powerful way to ensure you manager gets you and is supporting you to bring more purpose to your job – and vice versa. And then you can still grab a beer and share a laugh.
This article is published in collaboration with LinkedIn. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.
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Author: Aaron Hurst is CEO of Imperative, a technology platform seeking to connect people to purpose on a massive scale. He is also the founder of the Taproot Foundation and author of The Purpose Economy.
Image: Matteo Achilli works with one of his assistants in his office in Formello. REUTERS/Tony Gentile.