“Our brains are not wired for routine and repetition at work. Disengagement isn’t a motivation problem; it’s a biological one.”
-Daniel M Cable, Author
Do you find yourself dreading going to work? Is it because you truly dislike what it is you are doing, or is it because you are simply just bored? Fast Company’s Secrets of the Most Productive People offers a lesson in brain-training when it comes to combatting boredom at work, and shifting your mindset is easier than you may think.
When we tap into our biological wiring – the ‘seeking system’ in our brain (the technical names is ventral striatrum) that thrives when we discover something new or interesting, our brain delivers dopamine. Dopamine is a large contributor in the motivational idea of reward-motivated behavior. So by understanding our biology, we realize that even the anticipation of rewards increases our dopamine, and that can help managers create and maintain a motivating work environment. Understanding Mazlow’s Motivational Theory can help understand these rewards better, which is the basis of our RCSU program, Motivate Me
As a manager trying to create a motivating work environment or boost your own motivations, try the following to get out of a rut and reinvigorate your own ‘seeking-system’ by trying the following:
Play to your Strengths
London Business School Professor and author of Alive at Work: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do, Daniel M. Cable, states that when you tap into your strengths and the impact you have by using them on a daily basis you will find that you bring value to your team by using that unique skillset. In the hospitality industry, maybe you dread answering the phone at the front desk, but have a knack for remembering little things that make key club members feel extra special. Tapping into, and using your strength to make members feel special is something that can be harnessed and translated across multiple tasks. When you feel like you are good at something, you will feel good doing it, thus changing your mindset about answering the phone. For an extra step here, you can also train your brain to feel gratitude that you are able to answer the phone – rather than focus on dreading answering the phone - and use your strengths to make people feel special. That touches someone’s life – what a great strength
Is your strength humor? Problem-solving? Organization? Conflict resolution? Look for ways to use that skill daily, it will keep you in a mindset of adding team value.
Be Willing to Experiment
Shake things up a bit and go outside your comfort zone. All the greatest rewards happen outside of your comfort zone. Offer to take on a new role that might be challenging or interesting. Who knows; you may uncover a skillset or strength you didn’t know you had. Trying new things help you determine what you want to be doing, ultimately. By experimenting and reaching outside of your comfort zone, you will likely find yourself readily prepared for a career move doing exactly what you’ve discovered you want to do! And it all happened by stretching yourself. (By the way, if you’re looking for some career inspiration, we’ve got some great job listings!)
Tap into Purpose
Find your “why”. As author Simon Sinek says, “knowing your why gives you a filter to make choices, at work and at home, that will help you find greater fulfillment in all that you do.” So, ask yourself, ‘why is it that you do your job and what about your job inspires you?’ Stay focused on your own why and strive to know the ‘why’ of your employees also. As managers, it’s important to influence your employees’ intrinsic motivations by helping them find their purpose and passion in their work. This ensures that employees not only feel as though they are and important part of a team, but also valued as an integral member of the workforce.
Cable suggests designing your workplace to provide at least one of these three task items daily or weekly in order to bring your best self to work. Bringing your best self opens the door to not only you feeling good about your career, but others (clients, customers, management) feel good about working with you too. Sometimes we spend more time with our work family than our home family – why not make the best of it?