Embracing Your Organization: Five Ways Learning More About Your Work Increases Productivity

“A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain and drinking largely sobers us again.” – Alexander Pope, British poet; from An Essay on Criticism, 1709.

Employee disengagement remains a serious issue, with fewer than one-third of U.S. workers fully engaged. For many people, work is just a job—a way to put food on the table and cover the mortgage. If you feel this way, you’re only partially engaged at best. To others, their job is a necessary evil they hate—possibly because of the work, possibly because of toxic co-workers (among whom they fail to count themselves). These fully disengaged workers are barely productive and can become a danger to other employees. As they say, one bad apple spoils the barrel.

We’ve long known the cure for disengagement: to embrace your job and the organization employing you fully. Educate yourself about its history and mission/vision, as well as the intricacies of your own position. The more you learn, the more productive you become.

There are five reasons why this works:

  1. You learn to care. When you care about your job, you’ve taken the first step to fully engaging. You must care before you can love, and the more you love your job, the better and more effectively you can do it. If your job isn’t on the top-ten list of the things you care about, you’ll never become as productive as you could be.

  2. You gain an understanding of how you contribute to everyone’s success. While an organization may consist of many people, it’s ideally moving forward across the business landscape and serving its customers and employees as a single unit. As an individual, when you understand how you contribute, you become more aware of the importance of your contributions, which helps you understand your own value and why the business depends on you.

  3. You better comprehend its core values and how they apply to you. The more you know about your business and your job, the more transparent all elements of it become. This may not be a good thing if you work for an Enron, but generally it helps you grow more sympathetic to the organization in general and your job in particular. As your caring about the organization and those in it grows, and it’s easier to embrace your work and make it your own. You may never care as much for the organization as the actual owner(s) and/or founder(s), but it never hurts to develop a deeper understanding of why it exists and how it intends to change the world.

  4. You discover the limits of your authority, which might be wider than you think. Some people do the minimum they must to keep their jobs—not necessarily because they’re lazy or disengaged, but sometimes because they just don’t know any better. When they began the job, someone may have improperly trained them—or perhaps no one trained them at all. Other people suffer from overwhelm because they think they must do everything. They may have inherited someone else’s misconceptions or inertia, or simply never learned to say no. When you understand your organization and your work better, you understand the boundaries you work within better. You can then start handing work back to the people who should do it, stop writing that report no one uses anymore, or start picking up new, more challenging duties.

  5. You become more aware of the web of interconnections between you and your co-workers, supervisors, executives, and other colleagues. You all have your roles, some of them well-defined, some not; but you all depend on each other to do your jobs, pull your weight, and help the company move forward. When you understand that and why you and your co-workers are so important, it’s easier to become more productive without wasteful overlap.

You Gotta Have Informed Faith

It’s great to have faith in your organization and your work, but it’s better to have informed faith. Informed faith is better than blind faith, because your understanding of the business becomes deeper and more fulfilling, as it’s based on training and personal knowledge. Don’t hesitate to learn more about your organization or your job, whether it takes training, research, or classes. Your organization may even pay for it. But if you must pay for it yourself, it’s worth the cost, because you’ll have improved your personal Return on Investment for yourself and your organization.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

© 2019 Laura Stack. Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on employee and team productivity. She is the president of The Productivity Pro, Inc., a company dedicated to helping leaders increase workplace performance in high-stress environments. Stack has authored eight books, including FASTER TOGETHER: Accelerating Your Team’s Productivity (Berrett-Koehler 2018). She is a past president of the National Speakers Association, and a member of its exclusive Speaker Hall of Fame (with fewer than 175 members worldwide). Stack’s clients include Cisco Systems, Wal-Mart, and Bank of America, and she has been featured on the CBS Early Show and CNN, and in the New York Times. To have Laura Stack speak at an upcoming meeting or event, call 303-471-7401 or contact us online.

Here’s what others are saying:

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland