Think your personal satisfaction doesn’t matter?  Think again! I’ve been amazed many times when I meet people who hate their current job.  It might be the culture, or the nature of work, or the people around them.  Regardless of the reason underlying their feelings they find themselves in a place and they’re unhappy. What’s worse is when I find they have no intent on changing the situation!

If people have low satisfaction a number of things will start emerging.  Low productivity as they struggle to keep their focus. Poor quality as they lack the interest required to do a good job.  A lack of innovation. A lack of engagement. And much more.  In the end if the situation doesn’t get corrected it will become a lose-lose situation!

There are many things contributing to the satisfaction of people.  Their world outside of work is far more important than what happens at work. Maslow’s hierarchy places your personal side as the foundation for the things you get & need from work. Being satisfied at work will be difficult for people who lack a life balance, good relationships, or the infinite number of things which make us happy.  These are the difficult things for leaders to fix. But perhaps there’s ways you can support them to give them the time to get their life in a better place.  Perhaps it’s flexible work hours, or work from home arrangements.  It might be providing a support system of peers or professionals if they choose to use them.   There’s lots of things you can do to support their life goals.

The things you have a more direct influence over is the work environment people come to day after day. I’ve been in many work environments and have observed some colossal mistakes which lead to low satisfaction.  A manager was reviewing a low quality score with his team. Rather than rallying the team to understand the cause of the errors, he took them for ice cream saying he couldn’t see how the results could improve. An environment which values people who tow the line, over those who rock the boat to find better ways to work. A manager who values the view of a book which focuses on the message of “companies exist to make a profit, not to make their employees happy or fulfilled”.

What can you do about it if you’re a leader? Too many leaders start by blaming the people for low satisfaction.  Stop it!  Start by looking at yourself!  Are you creating the right environment for the team?  If not start finding ways to change the environment.  I’ve recommended Daniel Pink’s video Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us!  Daniel talks about how people need mastery, autonomy and purpose.  People who have these things are going to be satisfied in their jobs and personal life.

If it’s you who has the low satisfaction level then you have three choices:

  1. Work to change and influence the environment around you.  Odds are if you’re unhappy there’s like others in the same boat. You can make a difference!
  2. Accept the environment for what it is and find ways to feel better about being there day to day.
  3. Leave!  Go find something you can feel good about doing day after day!

Regardless of whether you’re a leader with unhappy people, or someone who’s unhappy at work.  Don’t discount the impact low satisfaction has and take action today!

Building Great Teams

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