Often it feels like we’ve hit a brick wall and that there is no way to move forward. We experience this in our personal lives, we experience it more so in our professional lives. We experience it as the workforce, as managers, and as business owners. It happens to all of us; it is all but unavoidable.
Learning to navigate this phenomenon can be considered the ultimate tool for workplace happiness and we all know by now, happiness in the workplace breeds progress and innovation. The mistake many of us make is to think this is unimportant, or worse that which we do is unimportant.
While it could be difficult to find meaning in a “meaningless job,” it is important to look for it. Even when the meaning is less obvious, or can only be derived further down the chain. For example: In South Africa, when we encounter roadworks, there is always an individual whose job it is to stand and wave a flag, the idea being to warn motorist of the up-and-coming roadworks. The job in and of itself is meaningless—nothing more than waving a flag—but the purpose is important and may be of immense consequence.
As managers, it is your job to search for meaning. It is your job to instill this meaning in your workforce. Meaning coupled with progress is the road to great achievements. Once you can spot and assign meaning to your work, you can do the same for your workforce. Thereafter, it is important to appreciate progress and accomplishment.
The Progress Principle says the single most important aspect to more motivation and more positivity towards a workday, is making progress in meaningful work. In other words, a sense of accomplishment. While it may be up to managers to instill this in the workforce, it is also up to the workforce to recognize progress everywhere.
Progress, no matter how infinitesimally small, is still progress. Own it, enjoy it, seek it out, revel in it. Every inch forward is an inch you no longer have to cover. Over time, thousands of inches make up miles and when you look back, you can do so fondly. More importantly, you can do so with pride.