Reality Check: You want what at work?

Some folks view work as a way to find fulfillment and purpose in life. Perhaps your view is less lofty; you may see work as just a way to put food on the table. Either way, a quality-minded employer will want to keep you motivated and keep your work at the forefront of your mind.

A recent article in Quality Progress magazine connected workplace motivation to the “seven desires of every heart” as identified by Mark and Debra Laaser. They describe these desires as universal; everyone has them regardless of age, race, gender…

In choice theory, Dr. Wm. Glasser identifies five basic needs, also considered universal. The themes in Laaser’s seven desires are consistent with Glasser’s five needs.

If you are struggling at work or wondering about life’s purpose, examining these desires/needs might help you figure out what it’s all about!

The first internal desire that the Laasers identify is the need to be heard and understood.

Let’s contrast the workplace experiences of Jerry and Jamie, who started work with similarly high levels of motivation.

When Jerry speaks with his supervisor, she puts down whatever she is doing and gives him her full attention. She demonstrates respect for Jerry’s suggestions, even as she explains why some can’t be implemented. Jerry is highly motivated and continues to strive to improve his performance and the success of the entire company.

When Jamie speaks with his supervisor, she continues to shuffle papers or “multi-task.” Always frazzled, she interrupts Jamie with any objection that comes to mind.  His issues are never urgent for her; she’ll get to it later. Later never comes. In Jamie’s words, “I just work here now. It’s their job to run the company, even if they are running it into the ground.”

The need to be heard dovetails with the choice theory need for power and recognition. “Power” can be as simple as knowing that we are valued, that our opinions are heard, that we have something to contribute.

If your workplace is one where you feel more like Jamie than Jerry, then you know that your motivation is not as high as it could be! Can you change that?

As we can only control our own behaviours, you can’t “make” your supervisor listen.  However, you could look for other ways to make yourself heard, perhaps by email rather than conversation. You could ask, “When is the best time to discuss this with you?” Or, you might seek out someone in the organization who will be receptive to your positive suggestions.

If you find the lack of being heard and understood in your workplace particularly irksome, well…now you know what’s important to you in a workplace should you choose to take your skills and talents elsewhere!

If leaving is not an option, try looking for ways to get your need to be heard fulfilled through activities other than work.

Conversely, if you supervise people in your workplace, examine your behaviour with respect to this need. Do you value opinions? Do you truly listen? How do you demonstrate that?

Are you heard and understood at work?

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