Making Work Great

I’ve always been a fan of Dan Pink and his book Drive where he talks about the importance of autonomy, mastery, and purpose in work. This weekend in the NY Times, there was a piece titled Rethinking Work by Barry Schwartz where the author espouses an extended set of beliefs that are similar to Dan Pink’s but broadened by adding a few more categories.

Here’s a choice piece from the article:

We want work that is challenging and engaging, that enables us to exercise some discretion and control over what we do, and that provides us opportunities to learn and grow. We want to work with colleagues we respect and with supervisors who respect us. Most of all, we want work that is meaningful — that makes a difference to other people and thus ennobles us in at least some small way.

So, people want work that is challenging, engaging, some level of autonomy, opportunities to learn and grow, co-workers and bosses that care, and work that matters. Much like autonomy, mastery, and purpose, this expands the concept with challenging, engaging, and being surrounded by people who care. In the end, it’s about making work great, and when it meets these criteria, it’s an amazing thing.

What else? What are some thoughts on making work great?

4 thoughts on “Making Work Great

  1. Been very quietly enjoying the posts and insights. This one I had to jump in on with a – SPOT ON for serious entrepreneurs and all the folks around them that help create real innovation and material share holder value for all involved. (that’s really good entrepreneurship)

    Gregg F

  2. Hi, David,
    My friend and I were recently discussing this very topic, and we concluded that a large part of fulfillment at work is contingent on context. Yes, we all want to engage in meaningful work, be challenged, grow, etc., but sometimes it’s easy for our daily activities to feel lost in the workstream toward the end-goal. Your posts address the start-up community, but now that larger companies with many moving parts are adopting lean practices, these beliefs apply to their workforce as well. Both startups and larger companies need effective managers and leaders to help contextualize how each individual/group’s work impacts the end product or user. In doing so, employees will be empowered to strive for even better work, in the hopes of continuing to make those perhaps small but critical impacts day in and day out.

  3. If Someone asks me how can you make your work great, my question will be Am I interested in the work.
    If the work doesn’t inspire me , doesn’t motivate me , there is a strong chance that it won’t be GREAT.

  4. We’ve been studying what makes work great for over 25 years. There are a number of critical factors: people need to feel trusted and to trust their management and colleagues; they need to feel valued and respected and that they are treated fairly; they want to have pride in who they work for and what they do and they want to enjoy working with their colleagues. Of course there are many granularities such as having their voice heard, to be fairly rewarded for what they do, to have opportunities to learn and develop, etc., but at the end of the day without trust, pride, respect, fairness and camaraderie, work and the workplace won’t be great.

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