By Alexandra S. Jackiw, CPM®, CAPS
President – Milhaus Management
Over the past decade, employee engagement at work has remained at a shocking level of just under 30 percent, according to the Gallup Organization. That means that more than two-thirds of employees in the U.S. are disengaged at work. They have checked out, feel unhappy, sleepwalk through the work day and, in some instances, undermine the productivity of engaged employees. This is a dismal situation that has to change – and you hold the power to change this mindset.
Even though your supervisor has a lot of influence over how engaged you are at work, the good news is that you can put yourself in the driver’s seat. “Employees have more control than they realize over their ability to build and sustain motivation in the workplace,” says Heidi Grant Halvorson, a motivational psychologist and author of “Nine Things Successful People Do Differently”. Here’s how to motivate yourself even if your boss doesn’t motivate you:
1. Figure out what makes you tick.
You’re the only one who can figure out what are the most important things to you personally and professionally. Ask yourself: when was the last time you were excited about accomplishing something at work? What are you most interested in doing? What gives you the biggest sense of accomplishment? What are your strengths and talents?
2. Set your own goals.
Step back and look at the big picture and take the time to develop your own individual career plan. Once you’ve done that, track your projects and results and set goals for your own development. While some of these goals may be directly related to your current role, others may be geared toward learning and exploring areas of interest outside your job description.
3. Make sure you have a “Plan B”.
It’s important to stay on track after you’ve set your goals but also plan for setbacks. Not everything you lay out will go according to plan. By anticipating obstacles, you’re less likely to get stuck. Accepting that challenges are a part of life and being prepared to deal with them is critical to long-term motivation.
4. Evaluate your own performance and ask for feedback.
Most managers are willing to offer feedback if you ask. You might request the feedback directly and in the moment by saying something like, “How did you think the meeting went? Is there anything I might do differently next time?” Also look to your peers for an objective assessment of your performance. Ask people who will be candid with you and whose opinions you trust. Another option is self-evaluation. Look critically at your own work and ask yourself the same questions you would use to evaluate the work of others.
5. Expand your internal and external networks.
If you’re not getting motivation from your supervisor, look for support elsewhere — not only to boost your confidence, but also to increase your visibility. Find mentors within your own company to give guidance and perspective, and, if possible, try to organize a peer group of career-oriented people. Look for external relationships or opportunities for online networking. Online networking through sites liked LinkedIn and Twitter can be an effective way to stay in touch with like-minded people and to keep abreast of industry-wide developments.
6. Focus on learning.
Commit yourself to consistently learning and improving. Knowledge and learning are some of the very best motivators that stimulate new ideas and innovation.
Changing your mindset and habits can help you gain a more fulfilling approach to your job and help you stay motivated and engaged at work. You owe it to yourself to “up your game” by focusing on those activities that will make you happier in your job and ready for the next career challenge. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose!