When I went to see Rogue One before Christmas one of the things it made me think about was my work. Don’t laugh (!) I do take time off, but I (like everyone else) have many anxieties about how I’m doing and how I feel about work. Before Christmas I was feeling isolated and alone in many of my roles and projects and watching the film gave me some rays of hope with a different way to think about the stuff that I was quietly worrying about.
Have you ever found that you get stuck with the task that gets more and more difficult as you try and finish it and you wonder why you agreed to do it in the first place? Have you ever sighed as you rescheduled that important meeting for the 5th time, without which you can’t move your work forward? I definitely have! It was the scene in Rogue One where a subset of the characters struggle to activate the comms tower master switch and relay the Death Star plans that got me – I got completely caught up in how that ‘sideline’ was it’s own epic battle, costing the characters involved dearly.
That task could seem utterly insignificant from an outsider perspective, not worth giving 10 minutes of your time for, let alone your life. But as part of the bigger picture that tiny part of the story is critically important and the film beautifully spotlights the struggle of it.
Details on the ground matter when we’re working as part of a team …
… AND they have to be located in a bigger framework so we can find our way back to where the team is headed when we look up.
So what can you do to renew your sense of purpose and motivation when you’re rescheduling that meeting for the 6th time? It’s important to remember you’re part of a team and your experience of your work is a source of useful insight.
Start with your own understanding – why is this task important? What goals does it contribute to and what vision are they upholding?
Take it to the project group / your team if you can’t answer, e.g. if the task and the amount of energy required doesn’t seem to fit with the vision and goals then talk about it.
If goals and vision are unclear the group must renew them by speaking them aloud and possible refining through discussion to take into account new experiences of the team doing the work.
You may also need to build up a set of ‘operating principles’ to support the team and keep it easy to raise a dialogue around issues
- For example: if a specific task keeps failing (e.g. the meeting is cancelled time and time again) set an operating principle to discuss and reimagine how to achieve the goal rather than trying the same thing over and over and suffering in silence?
Learn from course corrections made mid project – retrospectives or wash up meetings create a discussion space (either in person or via shared documents) to gather insights and reflect on what actually motivates you and your team.
Yep. You’ll have guessed ages ago if you know my work and writing already – team motivation can be boosted by better communication. A small communications switch can make a massive difference to human beings. We all want to feel part of something bigger than ourselves hence why Star Wars presents such a compelling world. Aim to build a supportive, collaborative team where everyone knows their experience feeds into the whole and you’ll all feel better about it, renewing your energy for the next battle … er I meant project ;-)
*Image by Daniel Cheung used under a CC0 license, kindly shared via Unsplash