I can honestly say that I’ve been fortunate to have always had a job that I loved. But, just because I loved what I did, it doesn’t equate to always being happy at work. At one point in my career, I accepted a position that I thought would be my dream job. The first few months were an absolute “honeymoon” phase and I was oblivious to some of the warning signs around me. There were little things that began to get me down; a lack of feedback on projects or indifference in a job well done that had me questioning my competence at work. I wasn’t alone—others felt similarly for a variety of reasons. After a year, the work environment became a place where everyone was walking on pins and needles and I realized that even though I loved the work I was doing, I wasn’t happy doing it. I knew deep down that I was successful at what I did, but my day-to-day feelings at work told me something different and soon all I could think about was how I could get out.
This month, we’re going to take a look at the book The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer. This book explores our inner work life—the confluence of perceptions, emotions, and motivations that we experience and react to during the workday. The inner work life of employees has a tremendous effect on the overall performance of an organization. Managers, in particular, can affect the inner work life of their employees and consequently, the creativity and productivity of the organization as well. Over the course of digging into this book, you’ll discover how you can support your inner work life, regardless of your environment, so you can maintain high performance and dignity on the job. Here are a couple of thoughts from the first chapter about “the inner work life”:
It’s the Little Things—Amabile and Kramer share an interesting study done in 2008 that revealed people are happier when they have small, regular events occur in their lives—such as attending church or working out at the gym. “Small positive and negative events are tiny booster shots of psychological uppers and downers,” (p. 25). When managing people, you really do need to pay attention (and sweat!) the small stuff.
What’s On the Inside—Inner work life is “inner” because it tackles the feelings and perceptions that are going on inside a person at work. It’s usually not something that others don’t notice nor do they feel comfortable revealing what they’re experiencing to others—especially superiors.
On the Job—Your inner work life is something that you only experience while at work; it is specific to the tasks and experiences that occur on the job. Consequently, your personal life can spill over and affect your job and vice versa.
Part of Life—Since most people spend so much of their lives at work, it becomes a huge investment and encompasses a lot of who we are and our self-worth. When people don’t feel happy at work, they have little drive for success and productivity begins to fall short.
Think On This
How happy are you in your current work position? Explain. If you are a leader or supervisor, how would you rate the satisfaction and happiness of your employees on the job? What are the little things that you need to pay closer attention to—for yourself as well as for your employees? How is ministry unique when thinking about the “inner work life?”