The Enthusiastic Workplace, Part III: Achievement

In the previous article in this four-part series about what makes for an enthusiastic workplace, I covered the many different aspects of employee concerns around equity, from basic physiological needs to both economic and psychological needs. In part III, I turn to the concept of achievement and the role it plays in the life of a company. The authors of The Enthusiastic Employee define achievement as follows: “To take pride in one’s accomplishments by doing things that matter and doing them well; to receive recognition for one’s accomplishments; to take pride in the organization’s accomplishments.” There’s a lot happening in that definition, and this article will unpack it. There are six primary aspects that go into the achievement equation:

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 12.02.45 PMChallenge of the work: People want work that uses their intelligence, abilities, and skills. Here’s where the data once again fly in the face of widely held beliefs about work. As it turns out, the vast majority of people, and I’m talking to the tune of 76%, actually like what they do – they are actually satisfied with the content of their work. Only 8% express dissatisfaction. And remember, people want to do well in their jobs.

Acquiring new skills: People want the opportunity to grow and develop through their work. Are there opportunities for professional development? When a company is willing to invest in an employee’s further development, it goes a long ways to making them feel valued, and motivated to achieve more for the company.

Ability to perform: People want to have the training, direction, resources, authority, information, and cooperation they need to perform their jobs well. Nothing produces high levels of frustration and dissatisfaction as not being provided what you need to do your job well. The list of things that can get in the way of this is long, ranging from crippling bureaucracy to ambiguous policies, lack of communication to management’s fear of change, and outdated processes to unnecessary delays.

Perceived importance of the job: This extends beyond the walls of the organization to include customers and society in general. People feel great about what they do when they see how it has a positive impact on others, whether fellow employees or the customers the company serves. Without a sense of that importance, workers inevitably begin to question the value of what they’re doing and become increasingly dissatisfied over time.

Recognition received for performance: This can be both financial and non-financial. Critical here is what kind of feedback employees receive. Constructive feedback wins the day, the kind of feedback that provides employees with guidance, honest evaluation, recognition for work well done, adequate rewards for the same, and which provides them clear direction for moving forward.

Company pride: People want to work for a company in which they can take pride, whether that be because of the superior quality of the products or services offered, the mission of the company, the quality of its leadership, or the ethics it displays. The correlation between being able to take pride in one’s company and overall employee satisfaction is incredibly strong. By far, the best combination comes from companies that not only do well (profitable and well-run) but also do good (providing real value to customers in a highly ethical context). Those are the elements that add up to excellence.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about achievement is this: The problems encountered here don’t tend to be at either the bottom or the top of the organization. By far, the largest number of difficulties are found in what most would call the “middle management” of the organization. The message is clear: Middle management needs to embrace best practices around achievement in order for companies to truly excel and become enthusiastic workplaces. In the next and final installment of this series, I’ll be taking a look at

July 8, 2015   Updated :July 6, 2015   achievement, enthusiasm, talent management   

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