It’s Your Job: Ownership at Work

Jimmy Buffet  march etip 2015One of my favorite Jimmy Buffet songs is called, It’s My Job.

In the song, he describes a street sweeper who comes whistling by, bouncing with every step. When the sweeper is asked why he sweeps, he replies, “It’s my job to be cleaning up this mess and that’s enough reason… for me.” The last line of the song is, “It’s my job to be better than the best and that makes the day for me.”

Jimmy knows what pride in the work is all about. He knows that coming to work each day, in service to others, will boost job satisfaction. What are you doing to foster a sense of pride and ownership in your work?

The Gallup Organization’s latest research reminds us that employee engagement continues to be in a slump. Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. The street sweeper described in the song is engaged. Sadly, in 2014 less than one-third of US employees were engaged.

When we drag ourselves to work each day to earn a paycheck, or pay off our debt, or to put our children through college, we’re going to have a long and possibly painful career. These are noble pursuits, of course. However, if that’s our only motivation to get to work, it’s going to be unpleasant.

Working each day with the intent to serve others, be they customers, the community, or your employees, makes work more meaningful. Some may even say work can become a passion.

Here are three tips for creating a work environment driven by passion, rather than obligation:

1. Stretch. Once you have mastered your job’s core functions, it’s time to stretch yourself. The challenge of trying something new can be invigorating and refreshing. Focus on learning and growing rather than failure. So what if your first try at a new challenge isn’t perfect? A new experience can build your confidence and expand what’s possible. If you don’t like to speak in front of groups, volunteer to speak at the next staff meeting. If you aren’t one to challenge the status quo, propose a new idea to the boss and see what happens. If you’ve always been a team member, step up to lead a team or committee when the opportunity arises.

2. Focus on your purpose. Your job exists for a specific reason. Your position is funded by your organization because an outcome is expected. When you work with a clear purpose, you will find more joy day-to-day.   Workplace conflicts, pressure to perform, and office politics can be a drag. The more you focus on the minutia, the less you are focused on the value you bring to the workplace each day. What’s your personal mission? What do you want your contribution to be? What’s your purpose?

3. Be an entrepreneur. The Gallup Organization found that business owners outrank other professions in overall well-being and happiness, despite working longer hours and earning slightly less than those in the private sector. The research found that higher levels of satisfaction are directly related to the level of autonomy we have. When you have the ability to choose your own path and can be trusted to make decisions, you are more likely to love your work. Regardless of your organization, look for opportunities to innovate and create new paths. Think of yourself as the “owner” of your work and you’ll find a greater connection to your job.

We all have a job, but do you possess the level of pride to truly “own” your work?

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