Is pride a deadly sin… or necessary for great work outcomes?
There’s no real answer for that because it depends on your definition of pride. If we are talking about the ego based pride that allows jealousy and undermining to happen, then you’re in seven deadly sins territory. But what about pride for others? Pride about your work? Pride for your workplace?
I think this kind of pride builds your capacity for meaning, confidence and resilience. Where there is meaning, confidence and resilience there are generally great outcomes.
What does pride in your work truly mean?
I have clients who tell me that they want their people to work within the business ‘like it’s their own business’. They want them to be as driven as passionate about the business as they are. That’s a tough call because it’s not their business. They don’t get the same rewards from working as an owner, founder or CEO may. However, through clever recruitment, training, patience, trust and a little luck you can find high achieving, passionate people, who work in your business like its their own.
Let’s be realistic. These kinds of people are not common in many businesses. High achievers who connect to the mission of the business is every employer’s dream. But don’t forget your role in creating an environment where these dream employees can flourish. If your systems, practices and environment (ie: culture) isn’t set up for high achievers then they may get frustrated and leave, or go rogue and you’ll want them to leave. The worst thing you can do is put chains on a Unicorn.
Putting Unicorns to one side, what about the others in your business? The ones that really enjoy working there, or believe in the mission, or the ones that used to believe but have lost faith due to the frustrations of the culture and workplace. How can you connect their hearts and minds to the business so they can be high achievers?
A technique to be able to connect your heart to the organization’s mission is to introduce them to a process that helps people feel proud of the work that they and the business do. If they discover stories that connect them back to the business they start to rebuild pride and rebuild their ‘give-a-damn’ for the outcome. A way to do this is to ask key questions to inspire thinking.
Finding your pride stories
One of line questioning is to connect the person back to the excitement they felt when they started working with your business. Questions can include:
- What was your initial reaction when you received your letter of offer from the employer?
- What was it that made you excited that you got the job?
- What was it that made you interested in working for the business?
If they respond with ‘money’ or ‘just having a job’ move on to what they have discovered since working for your business. Questions to ask include:
- Since you’ve been here, what stories, experiences, interactions, or outcomes have happened – whether you were involved or not – make you proud to work here?
- What specifically about a story that makes you proud?
- What was the benefit to the customer or others that happened as a result?
These stories don’t have to be earth-shattering or life-changing to instil a sense of pride. Here’s a simple example. One of my clients is in the water industry and a few years ago my son was doing a project on the desalination of water. He knew I was working with this business so he said to me, “Mom, I’m doing this project and I went on to their website and it was really easy to get the information that I needed for my project. I’ve done other projects and gone to other businesses’ websites and it hasn’t been as easy.” That simple piece of feedback made me really proud of the client that I’ve been working with. I know how much time and effort that they put into their engagement and their interaction with schools, and school-aged children, to encourage knowledge around the water industry.
That’s a pride story. Even though I didn’t do it, I didn’t even contribute to the achievement of it – it made me proud to work with this organization.
The story can be big or small, it just needs to be yours.
Working with your people to help them reconnect their heart and minds to why they are at this business, rather than another is a simple yet effective method of engagement.
Try it with your team.
Author Michelle T Holland