I started my career working in a small ad agency. One of my ads came on the radio when I was cruising around town with my friends. “Turn it up,” I said, excitedly and proudly. It didn’t matter that the ad I wrote was about “male pattern baldness” – I was 23 years old and my friends were hearing my ad on the radio! After some playful teasing – after all, what could I possibly know about what’s officially known as alopecia areata – they seemed impressed. I felt proud.
But when my grandfather – a compassionate, wise man I deeply admired – asked, “What exactly is it that you do?” my enthusiasm was quickly met with an unexpected response, “Why don’t you do something worthwhile – like helping people, like being a teacher or a nurse.” Hmmpf!
It was many years later, when my career direction shifted from advertising to organizational communications, that I finally had a role that felt purposeful and deserving of gramp’s approval. I was, after all, helping people. People like myself, who go to work everyday, looking for clarity and connection, seeking involvement, recognition and their own sense of purpose and worth. Through my work creating communication and engagement strategies, I could make a difference in the work experience of my colleagues!
I’ve dedicated more than a decade now to this worthy cause. Here’s what I now know:
- Being proud of what you do – and what your company does – can keep you in a job, even when there are reasons to move on.
- Feeling that your employment is purposeful – whether that’s driven by the organization’s mission, the role you play, or a connection to co-workers – is important to all of us, oftentimes attracting us to organizations and then helping to keep us there!
- The front-line manager is essential to creating meaningful, sustained employee engagement. But too often, we don’t provide managers with the training, support and accountability necessary for them to truly engage their teams.
On this last point, I believe that companies oftentimes launch employee engagement campaigns but bypass the hard – yet very impactful – work of manager development. An engagement campaign may provide sizzle, but manager development is what ultimately will pay the lasting dividends. Invest in your managers—I guarantee, you’ll not only create a more satisfying work environment for your employees and deliver more impressive results to your organization, but also … you’ll make “your grandpa” proud!