We all want our work to have impact, but making a difference may be harder than it seems. Being effective as an employee requires us to adopt the company’s mission as our own. We must align our values with the aims of our teammates. But coordinated efforts and shared values depend on clear expectations and shared vision. This means we often must encourage our leaders to clarify their goals for us, especially when we are unsure about our priorities. Being proactive about clear communication will help your leaders create an environment that allows every team member to engage more fully in their daily work.
I was in my early twenties before I understood that headaches and eye strain shouldn’t be a regular part of life. I was a full-time student, and on returning home from a lecture, I complained to my wife of a headache. She sensed a causal connection between reading a blackboard and my aching head and suggested an eye exam. I agreed.
I will never forget the optometrist’s astonished chuckle when he exclaimed, “You certainly will benefit from glasses!” Neither of my eyes had 20/20 vision, and one had a pronounced astigmatism. Whenever I opened a book to read, it gave the impression that the words were swimming on the page. But up until now, I had assumed that reading was challenging for everyone.
As I headed home with new glasses, the world looked new. Grass blades were blowing in the breeze, and what astonished me most was the sight of individual leaves on passing trees. Until that day, I had missed the beauty of the small things around me. The world was vibrant and alive! It had more variety than I’d known. On arriving home, I opened a book to read, and the text stayed in focus. I connected with the concepts rather than getting sidetracked by the mechanics of reading.
“… a small change in what you see can lead to a big shift in what you do.”
Just as we overlook the beauty and fine details of the world when we don’t have 20/20 eyesight, everyone loses their sense of fulfillment and purpose when their leaders fail to convey a compelling mission to their personnel.
I Can’t See the Point
In my experience, the best companies have a compelling mission, and their leaders communicate it often. When I say mission, I am not referring to a tedious corporate mission statement. More often than not, mission statements put us to sleep rather than motivating us. The mission must be simple and unambiguous.
AutoZone’s employees know their mission. It is inescapable. At the start of every large meeting, AutoZoners say the cheer and pledge.
“Give me an A-U-T-O-Z-O-N-E
Who’s the best? AutoZone!
Who’s number one? The customer!
AutoZoners always put customers first!
We know our parts and products!
Our stores look great!
We’ve got the best merchandise at the right price!”
When our leaders share a mission with clarity and conviction, we have a choice: Will we adopt it as our own, or will we choose to work elsewhere? A worker who sees your mission as their own will never be lazy. They have a strong reason to get to work each day and a team with whom to share victories.
But a clear mission is not enough.
I worked at AutoZone for several years, and it remains one of my best corporate work experiences. Yet despite the excellent leadership and clear mission, I struggled to see how my daily work contributed to our success. With more maturity and a clearer sense of self-worth, this would have been less of a struggle. However, leaders do well to remember that individuals sometimes need help to see and value their impact as team members.
When we cannot see the impact of our work, we lose heart.
Clarifying the Point of Your Work
Leaders are human, too. So don’t expect them to connect their grand vision to your small daily chores. The impact you make when you compose an email to a coworker is out of sight to others, but it can still be a powerful influence on the company. You must see how your mundane tasks impact the company.
But if your tasks seem unproductive and you wonder if your work contributes to the vision your leaders have set, you may want to get some help. Though it can feel awkward, get coaching from your team leader. Ask questions like, “How is my daily work as [my role] helping our team meet [our goals]?” And when you do, you may find that others see the impact of your work as more vital than you imagined.
When you ask frank questions, you allow your leaders to connect their lofty vision with daily realities. In so doing, you enrich their understanding of their role and the execution of the mission.
Hire yourself as a mindset coach, and take primary responsibility for connecting your work to the bigger picture. Don’t default to seeking affirmation from others, but start by asking yourself questions first. When you ask a strategic question about your work, you will engage your curiosity and begin to see connections you may have overlooked.
With a proactive approach and open communication, discovering the deeper value and purpose in your work is within reach. Engage actively with your role and the broader mission of your organization to transform everyday tasks into meaningful contributions. This journey towards aligning your efforts with organizational goals not only enriches your professional experience but also contributes to a more cohesive and driven team environment.
Take the Initiative Today
Communicate Openly: Never hesitate to seek clarity on how your responsibilities align with the organization’s objectives. Your inquiries could spark beneficial discussions that enhance overall communication and direction.
Embrace Accountability: Empower yourself by identifying connections between your work and the larger mission. This self-driven perspective brings personal fulfillment and underscores your role in the organization’s success.
Solicit Feedback: Actively seek out and welcome constructive feedback. It’s a tool for personal growth and alignment with your team’s goals.
Reflect and Adapt: Regular self-reflection on your tasks and their impact encourages continuous improvement and ensures your contributions are aligned with strategic objectives.
Embark on this path to make each day at work an opportunity for growth and impact. By aligning your actions with your organization’s goals, you turn routine tasks into the building blocks of a fulfilling career. Start this transformative journey now—your future self will thank you.
“Every Monday is like a mini New Year, giving you the chance to start fresh with a clean slate. That‘s why the weekly emails are a blessing. You can choose to complain and hate Mondays, or you can be among the select few who embrace a new, fresh start. Today with Purpose provides a pep talk, wise principles, and a vision that can help you see that life and work are meaningful. I encourage everyone to read it and start their week off right with a vision and principles that don‘t conform to the world, but instead seek to serve others and better yourself!”
A Writer and Coach Finds Simple, Actionable Advice
“I truly enjoy receiving Harvey‘s email messages. They are easy-to-read, but packed with helpful and encouraging information. I created a separate email folder to store them just so I can refer back to them more easily. His topics are very timely and seem to address issues I am currently experiencing, like self-doubt and problems completing what I start, or they address topics that can help me personally and professionally, such as ways to provide more impact at work. I like to keep Harvey‘s messages because they provide simple, actionable steps to implement, but can lead to a significant return. Referring to the messages weeks later provides good accountability to ensure I‘m following the advice.”
“Spending a few minutes reading a message from Harvey has become something that truly has been meaningful, thoughtful, and encouraging.”
— A Local Business and Ministry Leader.
A Coach and Author Sees a Message of Hope
“The value I find from Harvey‘s messages is an acknowledgment that many people feel dissatisfied, even with seemingly successful lives. His writing is such a reflection of him. Not a ‘get happy quick’ message but a message of empathy, compassion, and hope. He walks in his readers‘ shoes towards more purpose and impact. It is not quick and easy. But very possible.”
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