Now more than ever we want to find and feel meaning in our work. And a cornerstone of meaningful work is who we are together, how we show up for one another, how our environment supports this, and how we know we are safe, belong, and matter at work. These prerequisites enable us to expand our identities via our work, and to become a bigger version of ourselves as a result.
Does your work environment enable this?
Here are 3 ways to create more meaning in your workplace now.
1-Your Leaders Create Meaning
It all starts with our leader, with the culture they put in place and continue reinforcing. Let’s unpack this. When we experience trust in our leader Serotonin and Dopamine are released, which makes us feel good because the result is:
Oxytocin (a human bonding hormone) levels increase Cortisol (a stress-related hormone) levels decreaseThe result? Increased resilience and emotional agility in stressful times due to trust of our leader, and ultimately trust of our tribe. This then supports self-regulation, which is our ability to manage our emotional state. Self-regulation occurs in our prefrontal cortex and is only possible when we’re in our Smart State - where high engagement, collaboration, communication, innovation reign—versus being in our Critter State where we’re snared in fight/flight/freeze.
2-Your Environment Creates Meaning
There are two qualities of an optimal work environment that helps a tribe become and stay agile: an enriched environment and a reliable environment.
An enriched environment is an interactive, stimulating environment which leads to increased surface area of brain cells. The result? Team members making more connections, solving problems faster, figuring things out faster and innovating better.
Enriched cultures create a more meaningful and purpose-driven workplace. A more meaningful and purpose-driven workplace yields countless benefits:
Two Basic Modes For The Human BrainSMARTTRIBES INSTITUTE
Trust also creates reliable environments.
A brain in a more reliable (trust their leader) and enriched (stimulating) environment will have more branches. So the overall team will have more neural branches too. More branches = more surface area = more connections = more positive meaning is made.
More positive meaning results in:
More fulfillmentMore contributionMore innovationMore loyaltyMore emotional agilityMore retentionMore engagementAnd to boost meaning we turn to a Tribal Identity rich in purpose. This helps us to feel powerful together, understand where we fit in and how to belong to the tribe, gives us shared beliefs, and increases the potency and power of our individual identity (because we belong to such a cool tribe).
3-Tribal Identity Creates Meaning
Tribal identity is how we describe ourselves. At Google they are Googlers and are collaborative innovators. In the early days of Microsoft the engineers were awarded lab coats for great achievements, as they were seen as brilliant scientists inventing the future. Some sales teams see themselves as cowboys and cowgirls out on the range rounding up customers. Our team at SmartTribes Institute sees themselves as providing Ritz Carlton-level 5 star client service. What is your tribal identity? Is it compelling? Aspirational? Playful? Engaging?
In my book Power Your Tribe we talk about a Cultural GAME (Growth, Appreciation, Measurement, Engagement) Plan and how to harness its power to transform your tribe into a highly engaged, thank-God-it’s-Monday group of high performing, healthy, happy people—to make sure your tribal identity sticks.
Yet a GAME plan is only as effective as the emotional experience that surrounds it and is reinforced by it. To boost the emotional experience you’ll want to:
Bring profound meaning to your workplaceCraft a cultural identity and employee experience rich in trust Use neuroscience-based techniques that will increase human performance, cohesiveness, innovation
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