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Person Centred Leadership Part 6: 6 Ways to Help People Find Meaning in What They do at Work

Martin Seligman (in Flourish) tells us that finding or making meaning is one of the 5 core things that contribute to our sense of wellbeing (the others are experiencing positive emotions, feeling engagement, having positive relationships and achievement). See http://101.0.82.95/~personcentredlea/2013/06/07/what-is-health-and-well-being-and-how-do-we-lead-ourselves-towards-it/

Because we spend so much at work, if what we do lacks meaning for us, our sense or feeling of wellbeing both at work and across life generally may suffer as a result and so might our work!  As person centred leaders we work with people in the context of a shared respect for what is important to them and to us (see http://101.0.82.95/~personcentredlea/2014/01/31/what-is-person-centered-leadership-and-why-is-it-a-good-approach/). Given the importance of a sense of well-being, it follows that a  key thing for a person centred leader to do is to create an environment in which people truly feel that what they do has meaning and is meaningful.

So how can we do this? I have put together some ideas below and I would be interested in your comments and ideas too.

  1. Have a chat with your team about your collective purpose. Why do you as a team do what you do and how does each individual in the team contribute to this? Fosters appreciation across the team.
  2. Determine a team legacy that you would all like to leave and help each person see how they can contribute to that.
  3. Help people set long term and short term personal goals that are measurable and achievable and that are related to this purpose and legacy.
  4. Regularly acknowledge good work (http://101.0.82.95/~personcentredlea/2014/04/04/becoming-a-person-centred-leader-part-3-how-to-effectively-acknowledge-and-celebrate-good-work/) and at the same time connect people to the impact that their good work has on both the team objectives and also on the wider organisational objectives.
  5. Make sure that people have autonomy. If they have no control over what they have to do, give them control over how and link the ‘what’ back to purpose.
  6. Stop and look back often – help people see and celebrate how far they have come, what they have achieved and how it has contributed to the team and organisations goals.

Feeling a sense of meaning will also positively impact the other 4 areas that influence wellbeing. It’s a win win really.

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