Many of us find ourselves in a pursuit of the perfect job, an impressive job title, or a substantial salary at what we consider to be the ideal company. We often believe that these markers of success will bring us the fulfilment we crave as human beings.
However, research conducted across various organisations and industries suggests that our understanding of what truly leads to professional satisfaction might be a bit skewed. Surprisingly, it’s not the perfect job that matters most; it’s the relationships we build, both inside and outside of the workplace.
The Misplaced Pursuit
It’s easy to get caught up in the race for career success, continuously striving to climb the corporate ladder or attain that dream role. We often overlook the significance of the people around us and the connections we forge, thinking these relationships take a backseat to our job titles or the work itself.
However, a study involving 160 individuals from diverse industries and positions has revealed a profound truth:
It turns out that individuals in seemingly mundane or demanding roles can experience the same level of satisfaction and fulfilment as those in exciting or inspiring positions, provided they actively invest in nurturing relationships that provide nourishment and a sense of purpose.
To support your team in achieving satisfaction and fulfilment look at these actions you can take as a leader to build these relationships, and further enhance the culture of your organisation. It’s important to note, this doesn’t just exist within the walls of an office – we need to actively engage with our team on a personal level.
The Power of Relationships
Nurturing Workplace Relationships: Building strong bonds with colleagues, leaders and direct reports can significantly impact one’s professional satisfaction. Supportive work relationships not only enhance cooperation and therefore collaboration and productivity but also create a positive work environment where we feel valued and appreciated. This can be achieved by:
Regular One-on-One Meetings: Scheduling regular one-on-one meetings with team members to check in on their wellbeing, discuss their goals, challenges, and career aspirations means that we can connect with them, transfer knowledge and be a part of their growth journey. Use these meetings as opportunities to provide guidance and support as this will strengthen your relationship.
Lead by Example: Setting the tone by displaying the behaviour and values we wish to see in our colleagues is critical. By demonstrating professionalism, integrity, a strong work ethic and care, we can create team alignment and work to support and develop each other. By role modelling the right behaviours in the workplace, you are reinforcing positive behaviour into their daily lives.
Recognition and Appreciation: Publicly and privately acknowledge your colleagues’ contributions and achievements. Send thank-you notes, emails, or small tokens of appreciation. This shows individuals that we care, and this builds their confidence and fosters stronger working relationships through recognition.
By investing time and effort in nurturing these connections, we’re more likely to discover joy and purpose in our daily tasks. Additionally, we’re 50% less likely to consider leaving a workplace if we build these relationships and establish lasting ties within a professional network. (2)
Connecting Beyond the Office
It’s not just about the way we present ourselves at work; it’s about how we support our teams. True leadership extends beyond job performance and professional responsibilities. If we are to truly connect with our teams on a personal level and nurture a thriving workplace environment, it’s essential that we care about their wellbeing, emotions, and individual lives.
When we develop strong bonds built on trust and understanding, we allow our team members to bring their whole selves to work. This sense of authenticity fosters a workplace culture where diversity and individuality are celebrated rather than suppressed. Team members are not just colleagues, but also friends, who support each other’s growth and wellbeing – ultimately leading to a more productive work environment.
By modelling this behaviour, our teams will adopt the same approach simply because we’ve created the space for it. We can make this happen by:
Regular, Personal Feedback: Offer constructive feedback not only on job performance but also on personal growth and development. Provide guidance for overcoming personal challenges and improving well-being.
Encourage Open Communication: Foster an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their personal concerns or emotions. Reassure them that their well-being is a priority.
Wellbeing Programs: Implement well-being programs or initiatives within the workplace, such as mindfulness sessions, fitness challenges, or stress management workshops. Participate in these programs alongside your team.
We often underestimate the vital role that relationships play in achieving personal and professional satisfaction. The research is clear: whether we find ourselves in a seemingly ordinary or demanding job, it’s the quality of our connections and the sense of purpose they bring that truly matter.
Instead, we need to focus on nurturing the relationships in our lives, both within and outside the workplace, and discover the true source of fulfilment in our professional journey.
- Cross, R. and Garau, R. (2018) The Invisible Network Strategies of Successful People – Connected Commons, Connected Commons. Available at: https://connectedcommons.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/the-invisible-network-strategies-of-successful-people.pdf (Accessed: 06 September 2023).
- The Value of Belonging At Work (no date) Better Up. Available at: https://f.hubspotusercontent40.net/hubfs/9253440/Asset%20PDFs/Promotions_Assets_Reports/BetterUp_BelongingReport_121720.pdf (Accessed: 07 September 2023).