During college, or right after college, many students struggle to find “work in their field,” and may hold a job that they consider to be “just until I find a career job.” This attitude may continue for years, even as different work and positions come and go. Perhaps they are stuck seeing work as a job – merely a means of funding life’s necessities. After all, people tend to change jobs all the time; when one isn’t particularly engaged at work, there isn’t much lost when moving from one job to another.
On the other hand, some employees see work as a career, that is, a profession they can contribute to for years. A career brings a deeper level of commitment and engagement. A career requires long-term involvement, learning and progressing in skills over time. It’s a profession that requires an investment of time, talent, and sacrifice. Over the course of one’s career, one might work at a number of different companies that provide avenues for professional growth and development.
A very few see work as a calling, an avenue for meaningful contributions in service to others. A calling is the deepest level of commitment and engagement. A calling is a purpose-driven, meaningful pursuit to improve the quality of life of others. It’s a service-oriented, heart-aligned, inspiring avenue. It may take years to discover your calling. Once you find it, time flies. Engaging in your calling recharges you and inspires you to your very core.
How do you view your work? Is it drudgery? Is it somewhat benign, somewhat engaging, or possibly even inspiring?
Some employees never find a calling in their workplace. They may find their calling outside of work – or they may never find their true calling, at all.
What causes employees to see work as a job, a career, or a calling? Leaders have a tremendous influence on employees’ perceptions of their work. Specifically, the leader’s plans, decisions, and actions, day in and day out, can make employees see their work as one of those three “levels” of inspiration.
Most leaders are so consumed with developing, marketing, and getting their products or services into customers’ hands that they fail to see their powerful influence on employee perception, or craft a safe, inspiring team culture for employees. Yet culture drives everything that happens in their organizations.
How can leaders ensure their work environment treats team members with respect and dignity, that inspires great performance, deep engagement, and WOW’ed customers?
Leaders do so through the creation of an organizational constitution. An organizational constitution is a formal document that outlines the business’ purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals.
Once these expectations are mapped out, leaders must model, coach, and reinforce them. Leaders must invest as much time and energy in team values and citizenship as they do in managing results. By doing so, they create workplace inspiration – not workplace fear and anxiety.
If team members are consistently treated with dignity and respect by bosses and peers, they actively engage in the success of the business. They apply discretionary energy. They have fun. They love serving customers.
Employees who act like that, who are engaged like that, feel called to their work.