Something marvellous happens when people realise they are part of something larger than themselves. They engage in a manner that defies the logic of ‘carrots and sticks’ and perform above and beyond the call of duty. Voluntarily to boot.
Watch the video below to learn how Vision works as an engagement multiplier and what you can do to leverage its power with your team.
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The remotest, poorest and war-torn parts of the world are where human suffering is at its greatest, where medical care is most needed, and most often, where it is least available.
It is to these parts that medical care professionals from the international organisation Médecins Sans Frontières more commonly known as MSF or “Doctors Without Borders” voluntarily go to tend to and provide healing to the suffering. These professionals often get paid a salary that is described by the organisation as ‘set so as to reflect the humanitarian spirit of volunteerism’, which is another way of saying, ‘low pay’.
Here’s the question, though: What do you think drives the people working with ‘MSF to sacrifice the comfort of their home, working in a fancy hospital with a fat pay package and venture into unknown, uncomfortable and unsafe places to tend to those who could least afford to pay them?
Well, we might say that they are more altruistic than the rest of humanity and there might be some truth to that. However, that is just a tiny part of the picture.
This example, in fact, helps us learn something critical concerning us human beings.
Sure, money and rewards are important to everyone. But if these were enough, then how does one explain so many people holding high paying jobs and working in fancy offices and are yet so unproductive and disengaged from their work? Material rewards, it turns out, are important, but not quite enough.
If you as a leader want your people to come into work charged up every day, feel like giving their work their everything and produce at top levels, then you would do well to ponder upon workings of MSF. It will tell you a lot about a subject that you as a leader must major in: human motivation.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, scientist and author, in the course of his studies, encountered people so engrossed in the task at hand that to them it seemed as if they were in a trance, captivated by the joy of the task itself. No, not captivated with the rewards that come with the task, but captivated with performing the task itself.
He sought to find out why.
His studies revealed that people find true meaning and take joy in their work when they see themselves as being part of something larger than themselves. He says “One cannot lead a life that is truly excellent without feeling that one belongs to something greater and more permanent than oneself.”
No one could have said it better.
We, human beings will give our work our everything when we see our work as being part of something larger than ourselves; something more permanent and enduring than us. He also found another interesting fact: he found that the best moments in people’s work lives usually happen when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits voluntarily in an effort to accomplish something difficult but worthwhile. In simple English we human beings willingly accept, and find the greatest happiness, in pursuing stretch goals not when we are forced to do so, but when we choose to do so voluntarily. And that happens when we see our work as being part of something enduring and lasting.
If people feel that the task they’re doing has no meaning, they lose interest. Serving a greater cause helps people feel connected to their jobs, teams and the organization. This drives them to do their best at work voluntarily. They do this not for the reward, but because the work itself meets a deep set psychological need.
The most effective leaders, like the founders of MSF, are those that help their people meet this deep-set desire that they have. They help people see how what they do on a daily basis ensures the creation of something larger than themselves.
Not just team goal but something larger than themselves.
How are you engaging your team? What outcome – one that is enduring and larger than themselves – have you shown your team they are impacting through the work that they do, every day? This, at its core, is what employee engagement is all about. It is also the key to getting your team to voluntarily give their best at what they do, every day.