Organizational experts Michael Pratt (Boston College) and Blake Ashforth (Arizona State) have discerned, meaning can be derived in and at work. 1 As human beings we can find significance and fulfillment in the work itself depending on the impact it has on who and what is important to us and its congruence with who we are. When we find a significant “to do” in our work, feel we are making a real impact on business results and positively affecting the lives of others, are doing work consistent with our values and beliefs, and are able to invest in our betterment every day, it matters. It helps us make sense of ourselves and why we do what we do. It helps answer the soul-searching questions, “Why Am I Here?”, “Who Am I?”, and “What’s the Point?” 2
In this way, we find meaning in work.
As humans, we also long for connection to others and an environment that feels like a
community, a place where we belong. When we feel a great sense of belongingness at work, feel we can express our true, best selves at work every day, and feel a tremendous sense of connectedness and harmony with our co-workers, leaders, and organization, it matters. It helps us make sense of the surrounding environment and our place within it. This also helps answer the question “Who Am I?” as well as “Where Do I Belong?” 3
In this way, we find meaning at work.
Our most important role as a manager is to make meaning in and at work in ways that deeply engage the mind, heart, and soul and that elevate performance to new levels. Stay tuned to future Make Work Matter blog entries, and we’ll cover just how to do so. In the meantime, let’s get the discussion flowing, how do you go about making meaning in and at work?
1 Pratt, Michael G., & Ashforth, Blake E., Fostering Meaningfulness in Working and at Work (2003), in K.S. Cameron, J.E. Dutton & R.E. Quinn (Eds.), Positive Organizational Scholarship (pp. 309-327). Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
2 Pratt, Michael G., & Ashforth, Blake E., Ibid.
3 Pratt, Michael G., & Ashforth, Blake E., Ibid.