Each of your employees has something or someone in their lives that inspires wonder and awe. From traveling the world and experiencing nature to spending time with friends and family, there are countless ways people connect to a part of themselves that fills them with meaning and a sense of life as beautiful and mysterious.
It’s not immediately clear how this connects to work. Aren’t these the kind of experiences and feelings that tend to happen outside the office, and don’t really need to be discussed in a work setting?
Actually, sometimes it’s wise to discuss them. As a manager, you have an opportunity to build relationships with your employees that allow them to share parts of themselves that go beyond whatever project they’re working on or deadline they’re facing.
Why is it important to establish those types of relationships? We hear a lot about work-life balance, but research shows that when employees try to maintain strict distinctions between their work and home life, it can increase their stress and negatively impact their performance. And awe and wonder have distinct benefits for our job performance.
As a manager, it’s not your responsibility to create moments of wonder and awe for your employees. But you can take small steps to create an atmosphere where people feel a little more comfortable bringing their “whole selves” to work — where they have opportunities to express themselves, share their passions and know their time off is respected.
Another great way to help your employees connect to their sense of wonder and awe is making sure they have opportunities to disconnect from technology (including work email and calls) and recharge. When they’re able to unplug and recharge, they’ll not only feel grateful to you and more connected to the company mission, they’ll return to their work ready to perform at their very best.
Here are three simple ways you can help your employees tap into their sense of wonder and awe:
1. Start your employee-manager relationships with Entry Interview
When you have a new hire, set aside time for an Entry Interview on Day 1. Ask them what is most important in their lives, both at work and outside of work. For parents it might be taking their child to school or daycare in the morning. For others it might be leaving early on Tuesdays for a violin lesson. Clear communication about expectations from both sides is directly connected to our ability to set priorities and perform at our best. Then, use regular check-ins to keep the conversation going as needs evolve over time.
2. Set expectations about communication
Don’t expect your employees to be always on, responding to texts or emails after hours or on weekends. Time away from devices is essential to experiencing wonder and awe — and also enables us to be more productive, creative and fulfilled when we plug back in.
3. Bring your employees together around a big idea
It doesn’t have to be your own! At an all-company meeting or smaller team gathering, show a short video of an inspirational speech or event that relates, even tangentially, to your mission. You’ll remind people what they’re capable of, and what can happen when smart, driven people work together. When you create a culture steeped in achievement and awe-inspiring big ideas, people will feel much more motivated.