This research from Adam Grant on fundraising shows how much more effective it can be to link people’s work to a the people they’re doing it for.
Not a “higher purpose” like Alcoholics Anonymous (although, why not?), but at least something that they feel they can get behind.
employees who know how their work has a meaningful, positive impact on others are not just happier than those who don’t; they are vastly more productive, too
“task significance” is the key driver, and that face-to-face interactions, even seemingly superficial ones, can serve as a way of driving that significance home. In other studies, he has found that engineers, salespeople, managers, customer service representatives, doctors, nurses, medical technicians, security guards, police officers and firefighters who can directly see their impact on others all achieve higher job performance.
face-to-face meetings with individuals who benefit from a job well done can dramatically improve workers’ performance… One group of the student editors had the opportunity to see a would-be beneficiary who stopped by to drop off his letters and made small talk, purportedly unaware that the people in the room were the ones who would be tuning up his writing. Another group of student editors dug into the identical cover letters without having laid eyes on their author. The result? The people who had met the job-seeking student — even for a brief, apparently superficial conversation as he dropped off his paperwork — spent significantly more time on the editing task than those who hadn’t.
So get your team out to meet their stakeholders, their customers, their members. Or invite your customers in for a drink, some sausage rolls or a pizza. Don’t just talk to customers to sell the next thing, or take the next order. Let your team understand how what they do affects the customer. It will link them to their own purpose. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, and the returns will not just be monetary.