The human connection – on the crossroad between purpose and motivation

Photo by Claire1066


A few weeks ago I wrote this:

There are no insignificant roles, just people who make the roles insignificant and it is a manager’s role to make employee realize that.


If you succeed in instilling that sense of purpose in your employees you are half-way on your way to noticing and recognizing them.  You are on the right way to explaining, everyday, how they made a difference. And that is a good path to be on.

Do your employees see themselves as cogs or do instill them a sense of purpose?

I truly believe in the concept of purpose. That is why I was thrilled to read this Knowledge@Wharton article titled Putting a Face to a Name: The Art of Motivating Employees. The article talks about how introducing a person with the people whose lives he or she affects can have a tremendous influence on that person’s motivation and engagement levels. This article is based on the work of Professor Adam Grant:

… Grant says, employees who know how their work has a meaningful, positive impact on others are not just happier than those who don’t; they are vastly more productive, too.

The focus, according to the article is on how to connect, physically connect, the workers with the people who are affected by their work:

“Everybody has an end user. In some cases, those end users are more inside the organization than outside. In some cases, the end users who managers want employees to focus on are coworkers, colleagues in other departments, or managers themselves.” The question, he says, is: “How do we establish that connection as a regular routine, whether it’s a weekly conference call with [co-workers] or a monthly check-in?”

I will let you read all the wonderful examples in the article and the research it quotes. One important aspect stood out from all the examples. As the article suggests, many companies developed, due to a productivity mentality, obedient procedures that separate the workers from their customers and partners (insiders and outsiders). The findings of this research are just another manifestation of a greater concept. Management needs to go back to being more human. To creating human connections. It turns out, counter intuitively, that the focus on productivity can only boost real productivity to a certain level. In order to breach those levels a different act is required. One of connection. As Umair Haque writes in the HBR blog, we need to go from Great to Good.

We should not let all the technology fool us; many people still crave the connection, because it instills in us a sense of purpose. Because it is human to feel that way. And if we want to create more good (in the widest sense of the word), we need to try to be more human about it by allowing for a sense purpose.



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