How You Frame the Assignment Can Make All The Difference

You are a business leader who knows the importance of hitting targets month on month, as part of the growth journey. You are also a sensitive leader, who knows how difficult it is to keep the team motivated through the monthly target chase. Why does the excitement around target achievement, wane? How can you sustain the frontline team’s sense of fulfilment and excitement? Prof. Kieran Setiya, of MIT, offers fresh insights, in his book, “Midlife – A philosophical Guide”.

Prof. Setiya, classifies managerial activities into two types; “Project” and “Ongoing”. Project Type activities have a well-defined start and a built-in-end. Reaching the end offers a moment of fulfilment (a high), followed by a sense of emptiness (a low), till getting on to the next project. For these teams, fulfilment is either in the past or in the future, but never in the present. In contrast, for those involved in an ongoing type of activities, such as improving quality or operating efficiency or developing a market or developing business partners, there is no built-in end. The sense of fulfilment is in the present, in continuous doses, albeit small ones — no highs or lows.

Organisations need both project and ongoing types of activities. And there are two ways in which you as the leader can ensure that your team enjoys a reasonably stable level of fulfilment and at the same time draw on the key benefits of project type working.

  1. Make sure that the role/job descriptions of every member of your team, offers a mix of project and ongoing type of activities.
  2. Reframe project type activities as ongoing activities as well. For, eg, achieving targets month on month is furthering organisation’s growth plans and organising a dealer or supplier conference is furthering stakeholder relationships and so on.

Go beyond the ordinary. Set up your team for a sense of fulfilment, in the past, in the present and the future.

– by Ravi Santhanam for ZEUS

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