Tim Foot is CEO of Slingshot Group.
Statistics show that more than half of American workers are unhappy with their jobs.
You might think that if you don’t already love what you do, you need to find a new job to unlock that job satisfaction. But I’d say that’s not the case.
Find your why
Author Simon Sinek says “Everyone” [individual and] organization functions on three levels: what we do, how we do it and why we do it.”
Sinek himself reached a point where he hated his job even though he was doing great work with great clients. But until he gave his own answer Why, he could find no joy in his work. Due to a lack of job satisfaction, he felt out of balance.
In his book, Start with whySinek encourages us to ask two fundamental questions to Why:
1. What do you get up for in the morning?
2. Why does your organization exist?
For Sinek, being why inspires people to do what inspires them so that together they can change the world for the better. This is what gives him job satisfaction.
As a leader at Slingshot, my why see organizations thrive by building remarkable teams, aligning the corporate mission and the individual why. By doing this, I get happiness at work.
The role of relationships in job satisfaction
You are not designed to just create job satisfaction, at least not for the long term. Unlocking job satisfaction has everything to do with relationships.
Many employees believe that their colleagues are the biggest contributor to their happiness at work. And companies with happy employees are known to perform better. In other words, job satisfaction affects your business results and your effectiveness as an organization.
When people live together in the context of work, they have more relational fairness and trust when the going gets tough.
Take the time to put fun first. Get to know people who go beyond their work. Learn what their personal why is and what brings them joy outside of work.
The biggest killers of job satisfaction
Ego and perfection are the two biggest bummers. When people are only about themselves and their own ego, they don’t work together as a team.
When perfection (not to be confused with excellence) is valued over development, there are few opportunities for employees to try new things. Perfection is unattainable, suffocating and poisonous. When perfection is present, no one can teach you how to move forward or fail quickly. Instead, they fear failure at the risk of imperfection.
To maintain job satisfaction, keep your ego in check and choose development over perfection.
Find joy where you are
When I was 10 years old, my parents agreed to pay for my piano lessons as long as I practiced. And that was the problem; I loved the instrument, but I hated the practice.
I knew I had to find joy in that part I hated if I was going to continue. Every day I set an alarm to play for 30 minutes and added some of my favorite radio songs. This is what I call practice.
Showing up to practice wasn’t always my choice, but the tunes I played were my choice. And it made practicing more fun. This discipline has prepared me for future success in finding job satisfaction, something I have always been able to do.
The same goes for you. Coming to work isn’t always your choice, but the way you do it you show up is your choice – and knowing why affects how you appear. You can lean your why and find joy in what you do, or you can make changes that allow you to live your why and unlock job satisfaction.
How to get started
This is what you can focus on starting today to unlock job satisfaction wherever you are.
1. Find out why. Find out what gets you out of bed every morning and what inspires you to do what you do. Most of the time it’s what you do that doesn’t feel like work. That’s your why.
2. Connect with the human impact of your why. Your why affects real people, and that can add meaning and fun to your work. When you connect your work with other people, the impact is greater than anything you can do alone. Post photos, quotes, or stories of the people affected by your why.
3. Find a consistent rhythm for practicing joy. Like playing the piano, getting in shape, or eating healthy, practicing joy is a discipline. Find consistent ways to be happy every day.
4. Be the example. Be the leader you wish you had. If you see someone struggling without joy as they try to find their why, encourage them by sharing what has been helpful to you. Then be prepared to receive encouragement from them as well. Relational leadership is a daily practice that goes both ways.
Unlocking job satisfaction and finding your why will transform you as a leader and help you build a remarkable organizational culture.