By Steven Steinberg
Over the past half year, Monday mornings have become one of my favorite times of the week. That’s the day that my dozen or so co-workers at the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation gather around the conference table for our weekly team meeting, a one to two hour guided discussion that leaves each of us prepared to support our collective success – and each other — over the week ahead.
A recent study by the Conference Board shows that just 45 percent of workers are satisfied with their jobs, the lowest number ever recorded. I can say with confidence that’s not the case where I work. After more than half a year on the job, I have a good idea why and what you can do to improve the quality of your workplace.
After earning my Bachelors in Economics with Minors in Business and Psychology from Florida State University in 2007, I felt ready to take on the world of commerce. Within a month of graduation, I landed my first job as a Marketing Manager, responsible for implementing strategies for customer acquisition and retention at a leading Florida research company. Thirteen months later, I left the position for a new opportunity to oversee global marketing for a consumer products company eager to embrace the Internet in search of increased global revenues and profits.
In both jobs, I faced many of the same challenges the Conference Board survey revealed are causing American workers to have the lowest levels of workplace satisfaction ever recorded.
In a New York Times report on the study, Tara Parker-Pope writes, “After years of studying the ill effects of workplace stress, psychologists are turning their attention to its causes. Along with the usual suspects — long hours, bad bosses, office bullies — they have identified some surprising ones.”
“The findings, based on a survey of 5,000 households, show that the decline goes well beyond concerns about job security. Employees are unhappy about the design of their jobs, the health of their organizations and the quality of their managers,” she continues.
What makes my workplace different than the offices of millions of unsatisfied workers?
It begins with creating a positive environment where each team member knows how their individual efforts contribute to the company’s mission, is regularly appreciated and acknowledged for positive contributions, receives clear guidance and support to be successful, is encouraged to safely raise concerns and suggestions for improvement, and is consistently respected by co-workers and supervisors. That kind of environment doesn’t fit for everyone. It requires a high level of self-motivation, emotional maturity, and a consistent commitment to delivering exceptional results, knowing team members are depending on each other and typical excuses for poor performance are rarely tolerated.
My workplace in particular is an interesting example. Our company is a leader in relationship skills training, regularly touching the lives of thousands of couples who participate in our organization’s marriage education classes. The challenge of practicing what we preach about interpersonal relationships in an environment focused daily on driving performance and measurable results isn’t without its stumbles.
The format of our Monday meetings helps us navigate those challenges and offers a model that can be adopted by visionary teams throughout the world.
We use an exercise, known as the Daily Temperature Reading, that’s helped couples, parents and families for decades. The format provides a safe structure to share specific appreciations, stay informed, check out assumptions, proactively identify challenges and implement timely, practical solutions, while staying focused on achieving exceptional individual and collaborative results.
It also helps facilitate what could otherwise be difficult conversations, promotes accurate communication, active listening, and personal responsibility. The weekly process assures our workplace doesn’t become an emotional battleground that could easily lead to lost productivity and an environment in which the same problems persist, depriving each of us of job satisfaction, the chance to contribute, and costing the company valuable resources and opportunities.
In one hour, you can learn the steps of the Daily Temperature Reading as the foundation for highly effective teams and families. Join a PAIRS Trainer for a complimentary introduction to the principles of this unique approach to empowering human connection, creativity, and performance. For homes and teams alike that are committed to inspiring human potential, it’s an invaluable investment that will help assure you stay on the positive side of the next job satisfaction survey.
Steven Steinberg writes about technology for the Fatherhood Channel.