Humor me — let’s get existential for a minute. I promise we’ll come back down to more tangible things quickly.
In this lifetime, we have an opportunity to create the life we want to live. For most of us, working and making money is a requirement, so why not have it be an awesome experience? What this looks like is different for everyone. For one person, things like exacting timeliness, clear expectations and regular assessments may be an ideal setup for productivity and fulfillment. For another person, flexibility and room for exploration and creativity may be the perfect environment in which to do their best work and be most productive.
Define your ‘awesome’ and make it happen.
Whether you’re the leader of a large corporation or a small team, ask yourself the tough questions that will help you get to the heart of what kind of environment you are trying to create, how you will make it happen and who you need to get there. Go deeper than your sales goals, revenue numbers and ROI. What is most important to you? What gets you up in the morning? How do you want to change your world?
As the founder and CEO of a quickly growing recruiting company, my “awesome” is to work in a respectful, productive environment where we do good work for clients who are making the world a better place. I do not want to waste time with unnecessary layers of rules, or petty things like gossip or passive-aggressive behavior. I want our collective talent and energies to go into doing good things.
If that sounds awesome to you too, here’s how you might make this happen:
• Treat people with kindness and respect, which attracts employees who value these attributes and perpetuates a positive cycle (not only with staff, but with clients, too). It’s good for business.
• Lessen the stress of work. Of course, you're likely running a business with critical deliverables, stressful timelines and lofty goals, but things like allowing people to set their own work schedules and not requiring them to come into a physical office every day can relieve a lot of stress. By treating employees like adults and empowering them to do their best, they do just that — their best.
• Hire talented people who are intrinsically motivated, and provide them the tools they need to do their job. Then step out of their way. They will push themselves more than external rules ever would. In fact, imposing extrinsic forces on intrinsically motivated people can cause unnecessary stress, create a toxic work environment and kill productivity.
• Create a business model that employees and clients can feel good about. My company, Creative Alignments, upended the traditional contingency recruiting model in favor of a time-based model. We charge for the time it takes us to find talent for quickly scaling companies, instead of charging a commission for each hire. Because this model enables us to align with our clients in more long-term partnerships, rather than just being transactional, we are able to build more fulfilling and productive business relationships (not to mention help our clients to preserve more capital).
• Target exciting industries full of companies focused on doing good work for people and the environment. When team members feel good about their daily tasks and goals, they’re more motivated and invested in their work.
Of course, what works for us may not work for the company next door. But at every level of leadership, we all have the opportunity to be purposeful about positively influencing the place we spend a large part of our life. Take a big step back from the day-to-day, and give yourself the space to imagine and dream. How will you create the place where you want to work?