September 25, 2023
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Opinion: Your workers want a sense of purpose


By Christie Garcia

If staff can work from anywhere in the world, why would they work for you? Once they do, what motivates them to perform their best? And perhaps most importantly, what would make them stay?

In the last year we’ve watched a dramatic shift in employee satisfaction and seen that people are no longer looking for just a high salary — they want purpose, meaning, and balance. To feel happy at work, people want to feel supported and proud about what they’re doing. And right now? A lot of employees are not happy.

The number of unhappy employees is staggering. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, only 35% of employees are engaged at work. That means that a massive 65% of employees just don’t care about their job.

This means two things: They’re probably not doing their best work, and they wouldn’t care about leaving their job if the opportunity came along.

That’s a big problem. According to a March 2021 Gallup study, nearly half of employees are actively seeking other work, bringing to popularity the term “The Great Resignation.”

It is time to actively change the way companies are run.

When employees are engaged with their work, they’re clear about their role and responsibilities, they’re given growth opportunities, their relationships with coworkers are strong, and they’re given the freedom to do what they do best. According to Gallop’s latest meta-analysis of the relationship between team engagement and performance over the last two decades, teams with higher levels of engagement produced substantially better outcomes: They treated customers better and consistently attracted new ones; experienced less burnout; and were more loyal to their organization.

What we’re not talking enough about? The Ego.

That’s not ego as in, “that person is so self-important.” The Ego refers to the unconscious behaviors, thoughts, and mindsets that impacts each of us. It’s how we filter every topic, circumstance, and interaction we have.

The Ego’s reactive tendencies can create drama, distance, and disengagement with team members, especially when working remote or in returning to the office. When we’re able to work in a role and environment that is less

Ego-driven and more creative, supportive, and engaging, we all show up with more ownership, pride and accountability to the great vision.

We all have a dominant Ego that shows up. These are the Complier, Protector, and Controller. Let’s explore Egos and how they show up in the workplace.

Compilers are people-driven individuals who need human connection to thrive. Working from home can feel lonely and it can be hard for them to stay connected to their computer and engaged with their team. They often are the ones who have a hard time sharing problems, giving feedback and holding people accountable.

Protectors are big-picture thinkers who are naturally more introverted and enjoy working alone. They struggle with change and do best with routine. They might hate working from home because they are isolated, or they might love it because they don’t have to deal with anyone. They process things in their head — so if someone’s not checking in on them, they may end up doing a lot of their team’s work themselves. They can be difficult to collaborate with and their emotions can be extreme.

Controllers are ambitious and overachieving. They love working from home! They can accomplish an 8-hour day in 3 hours. They’re very task-focused and less people-focused, which can make them seem like they’re micromanaging and intense. Controllers know they are good at their job and aren’t scared to leave. If a Controller gets burnt out or feels unappreciated, they’ll be recruited and leave when you least expect it.

As your business gets back to “normal,” it’s going to be important to focus on employee relationships, engagement, and team culture. The following are some of the most effective ways to keep employees engaged:

• Empower your teams: Keep Ego types in mind as you encourage staff from all management levels to solve problems and do what they do best.

• Create coaching mindsets: Set your leadership team up to coach, train, and delegate.

• Transparent and open communication: Create meaningful connections and set clear expectations and responsibilities.

• Train and develop team members: LinkedIn reported that 94% of people said they would have stayed at their job longer if they had an opportunity to be trained or developed. Invest in your management and leadership teams so they can adapt and lead teams to success,

• Accountability across the board: Address high turnover, poor communication, and lack of engagement immediately. Bad leaders are typically Ego driven. These unconscious behaviors can easily shift with the right tools and training. Identify the Egos at play and help them change their approach so everyone can show up as their best self.

Structural change does not come from surface level trainings. To transform people’s impact, you must dig deep into self-awareness, ownership, and Ego management. This will shift the “I” mindset to “we,” which allows everyone to be more successful, happy, and engaged.

• Christie Garcia is the founder of Mindful Choice Leadership Academy, a management and leadership coaching firm that is based in San Luis Obispo and operates nationwide.