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We write quite a bit about what it takes to bring out the best of your employees. What do you know about what it takes to bring out the best of yourself?
I heard this interview last week with Tess Vigeland, former NPR personality and author of Leap: Leaving a Job with No Plan B to Find the Career and Life You Really Want. I am not going to tell you about this book, but I am going to tell you about one nugget in the interview.
Tess talked about the trifecta in the workplace. The three conditions that, in her opinion, really allow you to do your best work.
- The people who work with you respect you
- You are fairly compensated for your work
- You love what you do
I heard this and immediately agreed. If you have these three things going for you at work, then you are probably engaged, productive, and truly making a difference.
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But what if one is missing? Would you be satisfied with that? Are any of these three items getting in your way of bringing the best of yourself to work each day? After all, we can write ideas about creating in performance in others week after week, but if you aren’t bringing the best of YOU, then it really doesn’t matter.
Others Respecting You
I think what’s interesting is that this means you are already doing your best work. But I’m not so sure. People respect competent professionals. Those who can do their jobs well, and work to solve problems within their areas of expertise. They know that you are the go-to person for some unique specialty or some area of expertise, and that when called upon you deliver with professionalism and in a timely manner. This, in many cases will drive respect. But it doesn’t mean you are doing your best. It may mean that you are sufficient for the role.
This is a deadly topic, in my opinion. My value, as much as I would like to think otherwise, is based on the market, not on how much I am liked or respected, or my unique knowledge of the inner workings of the company I work for. The next person they hire will figure all that out quite quickly, so my time invested is not nearly as valuable as the cost of the next hire. Sorry, but true. Everyone leaves.
So, in this case, I think fairly compensated means “What could I earn if I went elsewhere to do this work?” and not based on a comparison to that jerk in over in the next cube who does the same (or less) than I do, but has an MBA. Guess what? In many jobs, that has a market value.
Loving What You Do
I started my career in engineering and maintenance. It was awesome. I helped develop the first-of-a-kind machine that put wet wipes into pouches. It might not sound like much, but automation in the early days of programmable controllers was really new space to explore. But the thrill was gone soon, and I realized that the real challenge was in pairing people to the processes they managed, and in building teams where the members balanced one another with their unique capabilities. I love my job. And have for the past 20 years.
These three things have worked well for me. The respect piece is mutual – I would work with almost every one of my co-workers again on any project. (Almost – I gotta be realistic here!) To be fair, there are people who might not have me on their draft list either. But, for the most part, I work with people who are bound by a certain amount of mutual respect. I know I am paid at market, and compensated on performance accordingly. But, most importantly, I can’t imagine doing anything else right now.
Can you say that about these three items? If not, can you still work at your best? I would be interested in any challenges to this idea, because I think Tess got it exactly right.