Accomplishment is about being able to use our skills and feel good at what we do. The direction and opportunities organizations create, as well as making space to reflect on them, can make a huge difference to our sense of accomplishment.
1. Ask "how far have we come?"
During any organizational change process - whether it’s positive growth-oriented or crisis response - organizations do better when they balance what needs to be done with an appreciation of what's already been achieved.
How to do it:
- When communicating aspirations use a technique called Appreciative Inquiry, developed by organizational behavior expert David Cooperrider
- This technique will help you build from what's already working, while thinking about the next steps.
- Ensure your communication includes:
- Peak experiences - think of a time when you felt clear about how far the organization has come. What was happening? Who was involved?
- Wishes - if you had 3 wishes for more peak experiences like the one above, what would you wish for?
- Values - what do you value most about individuals and teams in how far you've come, which will be essential for where you're going next?
- Possible future - imagine you have been asleep for three years and you wake to find your wishes have come true. The organization is performing far better while being a healthy and nourishing place to be. How did you accomplish what you set out to - as an individual, in your team and as an organization? What did you learn along the way?
- Train the key influencers in your organization in this technique and if you find it's working, roll it out to managers and team leaders.
2. Celebrate the small to look after the big
Celebrate progress every week to keep each other inspired, retain focus and boost energy levels. In doing so you’ll help maintain momentum and build success for medium and long term goals.
How to do it:
- Ask everyone to stop and notice what's going well!
- Encourage colleagues to share Celebrations every week in Friday Pulse
- Suggest people make a note of all the week’s unexpected achievements and add them to their original to-do-list. This buffers any negative feelings we have when we haven't done what we initially set out to do.
- Ask teams to get together to share their wins to energize, spread positivity and grow appreciation of the effort and skill put in by colleagues; remember emotions are contagious!
3. Delegate to achieve
When leaders delegate and shift ownership of work, our sense of achievement rises because we feel the work belongs to us and we are trusted with it.
How to do it
- Leaders need to:
- Recognize the limits of their own strengths
- See the benefits of having more time to focus on big picture stuff
- Understand that a trust leap is necessary
- Tolerate mistakes and use them as learning opportunities
- Expect that colleagues in existing leadership positions may struggle to delegate, especially when stress levels run high. Build a Coaching Community for people in leadership positions, so they can encourage each other to achieve their delegation goals.
Research and case study
Daniel Pink writes that successful delegation grants ownership over task, technique, team and time. Find out more from his book: Drive: The Surprising Science about what Motivates Us.
At food producer The Morning Star Company, colleagues accumulate authority by demonstrating expertise, helping peers and adding value. Employees do not need to be given power by more responsible colleagues; the whole operational system assumes they have it. In these systems, influence is based on contribution and reputation, not position.
4. Treat job descriptions as living documents
Jobs are constantly evolving so hold regular conversations about job descriptions to enhance job clarity. This way, everyone is clear on what they have responsibility for and what they can feel a sense of achievement about.
How to do it:
- Ensure colleagues are given time to review and reflect on their current job description before they sit down with HR or their line manager.
- Ask managers to schedule 1:1 meetings with colleagues to run through their job descriptions, comparing and contrasting the responsibilities and duties written on the page with what they do in reality.
- Ask managers and employees to think about the following:
- Does the job description accurately reflect the responsibilities and duties of the position?
- Is a new job title necessary?
- Does office working, home working or a hybrid model best fit the person and the role?
Friday Pulse's research highlights that one of the key determinants of a sense of accomplishment is how much clarity employees have in their job. Clarity in our jobs allows us to see what we're achieving. When responsibilities are limitless or too fragmented, it’s harder to see impact. When roles and responsibilities are more defined we have a guide to where to focus our efforts. And focusing helps us to notice what we're achieving.
5. Create slack in the system
When we feel swamped with work or we run from one activity to the next, we don’t just lose sight of what we are achieving, we lose sight of what’s important. And then we don’t focus our efforts on what we really need to. Staff your organization with more labour hours than you think you need.
How to do it:
- Use your organizational Heatmap in the Friday Pulse data to examine Work-life balance and Accomplishment scores team-by-team.
- Teams with low Work-life balance scores and a low Accomplishment score are likely to be firefighting. You can support them in four ways:
- Hire more staff.
- Re-distribute labour hours from teams with higher Work-life balance and Accomplishment scores.
- Re-prioritize, so that ambitions align with labour hours available.
- Check corporate culture is not incentivizing managers to drive down labour costs.
Research by The Good Jobs Institute has identified a number of benefits to staffing organizations with more labour hours than the expected workload. It sounds inefficient, but it's actually a value creation exercise - in employee happiness, customer satisfaction and fewer mistakes.