How to Transform a Dead-End Job

You want to love what you do. You want to like the work ahead of you and see yourself improve. You want opportunities to develop your skills — and then to get promoted because of it.

I know you want to enjoy your work… because we all do.

This is called Personal Motivation — and it’s one of the key sources of influence in our lives.

When we don’t enjoy something or see growth because of it, it’s hard for us to engage in our work. If you or your employees need some motivation, take a look at the tasks at hand and the potential for personal development.

If you’re missing the mark in one of these areas, then chances are, engagement is down and personal motivation is lacking.

Here’s what to look for to discover which changes can make the biggest difference.

1. Tasks and Profession

How satisfied are you with the activities that make up your job?

When you find joy in the tasks or love the profession itself, you love what you do. When the tasks aren’t so pleasant, you likely dread your workday.

Think about your job and the jobs of the people you’re trying to impact in your organisation. Don’t just think of the positives or negatives — look at both ends of the spectrum.

What parts of these jobs are fulfilling? What tasks bring a feeling of success, autonomy, and allow for individual expression? What makes you feel energised and leads you to rise to the challenge ahead?

What parts of their jobs are uncomfortable, painful, at-risk, noxious, or dangerous? Which tasks are repetitive, exhausting, or unpleasant? Which of the tasks involve little autonomy, control, thought, or challenge?

Let’s look at two entry-level jobs to see the difference.

At a fast-food or retail store, employees work in waves. They work really fast during the busy hours. When the store is inundated with customers, they troubleshoot, manage crowds, and attempt to rise to the challenge at hand.

Compare that to a factory job where the work is continual. The assembly line comes by and never stops. Employees work elbow to elbow with each other completing their tasks like a robot. They have zero control.

Most of us have parts of our days at work that we don’t like.

What tasks in your organisation lack control?

Think about how you could eliminate these robotic tasks and replace them with areas where people feel ownership of their work. Think about how to turn these tasks into an assignment that’s a craft — where people could put their signature on what they’re creating.

When people can put themselves into their work, they begin to identify themselves by their profession or craft. You want people in your organisation to take pride in saying, “I’m an engineer,” “I’m a psychologist,” or “I’m a consultant.”

If that’s not happening, what can you change? What are the aspects of the task that you don’t like and how can you change that for something you do like — where you own it, have greater autonomy, identity, and pride?

2. Development and Personal Growth

People also need room for development and personal growth to be fully engaged in their profession. People want opportunities to grow, develop, and build a career. We want to reach our potential.

But when opportunities for growth are lacking, we feel taken advantage of. Without the chance to improve, people begin to believe their job is degrading, humiliating, or beneath them. People feel stuck in a dead-end job and start looking for other opportunities.

Does personal growth and development flourish in your organisation?

When it does, we feel coached and groomed for better things. We’re getting honest, helpful, loving feedback. We believe we have a career and can achieve our aspirations. We believe we’re learning and growing in our work.

When people feel supported, they acknowledge how the organisation gives opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. They believe the organisation cares about them — and they reflect that positivity in their job.

Remove the Negatives, Build the Positives

Without personal motivation, we don’t do our best work. But when we change tasks that limit control and provide employees with opportunities to achieve great things, we all become more engaged in our work and motivated to do our best.

If you want people to be intrinsically motivated, you need to remove the negative and build the positive. Get rid of the obstacles and add the benefits. As personal motivation increases, everyone wins.

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