Why Are You Here, Anyway?

Fit no stereotypes. Don’t chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team’s mission.” — Former U.S. Secretary of State and four-star General.

Why am I here? by Laura Stack #productivity #workplace

Why am I here? In addition to being one of the great mysteries of human existence, this question is one of the most important ones you can ask yourself, especially when you contemplate your job. It’s an exercise that should be undertaken regularly. Why do you occupy this particular box in your workplace’s org chart? What do your superiors expect you to accomplish? What is your personal return on investment? What value do you bring to the company?

If you have no real reason for working other than your need to occupy yourself or provide for your family, then you’ve lost sight of your workplace mission. These may represent noble goals, but actual workplace productivity depends on an intimate knowledge of your organization’s strategic goals and your plan for contributing to it.

Most organizations, from Bubba’s Bait Shop to Ford Motor Company, have an underlying mission driving them toward their goals. A mission generally consists of a brief, straightforward statement of the organization’s primary objectives or bottom-line goals. For example, Bubba’s could be, “To sell the best fishing worms in the Greater Tuna area.” Ford’s could be, “To make the safest cars for the best prices in the U.S.A.”

What is you’re your organization’s mission? Do you know, and do you care anymore? If the answer to either question is “no,” then implement my 4-R Reconnection Strategy to align with your workplace mission—while you still have one!

REESTABLISH communication. Evaluate your current position by asking yourself, “What are the 20% of my activities that contribute 80% of my value to my organization?” If you find yourself groping uncertainly in the fog to answer that question, invest some personal time figuring out how you got off course and how to fix it. Get out the radar and start pinging away until you relocate that all-important mission of your organization. Awareness is the first key to progress.

REALIGN yourself. Now make sure the mission and your perception of it still match up. If you’ve become misaligned—even through no fault of your own—you may be wasting time on the wrong goals. If so, it doesn’t matter how hard you work to get the job done if you’re spending time on the wrong things. So recheck with your boss regularly to confirm your critical priorities.

REPAIR your connection. Now that you know where you are and where you should be, make any necessary course corrections. Tweak or even overhaul your personal and/or team workflow process to get it back on track and into sync with the mission. Have your team members make a list of the top five things they think they should be working on, and you do the same for each person. Compare the two lists. Are they the same? Constantly refocus their and your key tasks, which should be reflected in how your calendar plays out.

REDEDICATE yourself to the mission. Reaffirm your commitment to your workplace. Work to fully understand how you and your team contribute to the collective effort to move the organization forward. Whether your contributions prove integral or incremental, make sure that what you’re doing is exactly what you should be doing to achieve the long-term strategic objectives of your organization.

At the professional level, almost isn’t good enough. Even if you work harder and longer than other leaders in your company, if you’ve lost track of the mission, your workplace productivity will inevitably crash and burn. So look up regularly, check your instruments to see how you’re doing—and reorient yourself if you’ve lost your mission lock.