What makes work work?
There are tons of possible definitions, but two central characteristics of all jobs are:
A series of tasks and projects that you have to do, regardless of whether you enjoy them or not.
Extrinsic motivation. In other words, you receive compensation for the performance of those tasks. (as opposed to play, which you do because it is internally rewarding).
Most of us have to work. So what can we do to make the experience more engaging? Afterall, dozens of studies have tied individual-level performance and retention, as well as company outcomes, to how engaged people are in their work.
People need to feel like their contributions matter, that the tasks and projects they complete are part of something bigger than themselves. We want to see how our work connects with others, and how all the pieces make some difference in the world.
In our BarometerXP Pressure Matrix, we define three categories of contributions. Every project, every meeting, every task should align with at least one of the following intents:
What’s the overall purpose of the company or organization? Does the work directly affect the mission, vision, and values?
Does the task or project advance defined goals and metrics? Does the work contribute to the company’s capacity to implement the mission and vision?
Are the right processes and resources in place to accomplish the goals? Does the task or project help ensure that work is being done efficiently, effectively, or strategically?
Not every task you perform will be exciting, or even directly align with your specific talents and interests. But if it connects with one of the three intents, at least it can be meaningful.
Using this lens, can you find new connections to your work?