Aspiring for better and making progress on your path is one of the greatest motivators and rewards of all; you get that wonderful sense of achieving something. After all, if the path is too easy, we’re less satisfied than if we’ve tackled a few dragons and slashed through some dense jungle and undergrowth along the way.
Every 12 seconds, a five year-old child calls from the back seat of a car somewhere around the world, demanding to know ‘Are we there yet?'
On the path towards ‘good’ or ‘great’ we may well wonder what good looks like… and if indeed we are there yet.
Uncertainty, wonder and curiosity
Our discomfort with uncertainty and our need to know ‘why' is high on our minds. We are born with an abundance of wonder and curiosity… but only so much. At a point we want to know more and ‘when do we get there?’ is a classic.
Wonder and curiosity doesn’t stop but there are many workplace situations where we can be less interested, less engaged and have less at stake.
Global engagement scores are lower than ever. We have to do better; we have to keep trying alternative and different ways of lighting up the eyes and minds of our teams and switching them on to the work and projects at hand.
One of the best ways to engage, inspire and connect with people is to address the grown-up version of ‘are we there yet?’
In workplaces everywhere, people want to know ‘where are we?’ Where are we in relation to the past, the present, the future?
You can’t expect people to work on or commit to something if it’s the great unknown.
Show some certainty ... even just a little
Work to show some certainty; even it’s it just a little. At the least you need to show:
- where are we now?
- where are we going?
- when /how do we get there?
When we’re lost or looking for directions, our mobile devices help us instantly with maps and location devices. We use landmarks, signs, symbols and visual triggers to help us make sense of where we are and where we’re heading.
More mapping please
So here’s the opportunity: we need to use more mapping, location and visual signs in the workplace. We're increasingly dependent on them in our daily lives to navigate cities, sites and suburbs; let’s extend that to the work we have in workplaces the world over.
People find it too much effort to engage in a vision they can’t see or imagine. If it’s too abstract, it doesn’t connect; if it’s too detailed, it all looks like too much hard work. Somewhere in the middle there is a map, a plan, a vision that shows where we are and where we’re going… and how we’ll get there.
It’s the perfect way to show people what ‘good’ looks like and how far away we are from that.
With a map or guide of sorts, our uncertainty, fear and uneasiness dissipates. We still might not know everything about what’s up ahead, but at least we’ve got something to guide us.
Give the team something to look at, latch on to and that gives them a clear sense of where they are and where they are going. It’s all about making progress… making things clear and helping people make sense when things are uncertain. This is sensemaking.
Lynne Cazaly was a keynote speaker at the FEW Annual Leadership Conference 2016. She is an advviser and author of thee books:
- Making Sense: A Handbook for the Future of Work
- Create Change: How to apply innovation in an era of uncertainty, and
- Visual Mojo: How to capture thinking, convey information and collaborate using visuals.
She works with executives, senior leaders and teams on major change and transformation projects. She helps people distil their thinking, apply ideas and innovation and boost the engagement and collaboration effectiveness of teams.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn