Researchers and Positive Psychologists from the University of Pennsylvania, Tamara Myles and Wes Adams, chat with Jason Barger about their findings on the “10 Principles of Meaningful Work” and what this means to the future of work, leadership and culture-shaping.
Link to the research paper on The Ten Principles of Highly Meaningful Work
Link to the Business Insider article covering their research
1:28 – Jason introduces Season 4 episode 6 of the podcast. Welcome back to the podcast and thank you for listening. We wish to create content that engages your mind and heart and allows you to step back and think and add some positivity to your life. This podcast is about the research from Positive Psychologists from the University of Pennsylvania, Tamara Myles and Wes Adams, about their findings on the “10 Principles of Meaningful Work” and what this means to the future of work, leadership and culture-shaping.
4:10 – Jason talks about how Tamara and Wes uncovered the secrets of how to provide meaningful work. Wes has been a transformational consultant for 20 years and Tamara is the author of the book the Secret to Peak Productivity.
6:00 – Tamara and Wes talk about the idea of meaningful work and where it came from. What are all the things that leaders need to foster a meaningful work environment? They deep dive into what inspired them with their research. Tamara speaks about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
We all as humans want to be part of meaningful work.
9:10 – Jason deep dives about meaningful work and what that means to people within an organization. The teams that are proactive about this and bring meaning really are the ones that are retaining and succeeding.
10:05 – Tamara and Wes worked with Microsoft, Google, and Marriott to name a few. The largest organization included 750K global employees and was a fully diverse dataset. Meaningful work allows for personal work and connects to something greater than yourself. They used exemplar methodology. The idea is that by studying who is doing it well there is a lot that you can learn and share to people who want to get there.
15:10 – They were surprised that the discovery was so common sense. This ended up being a huge benefit of the research because Stephen Covey said common sense is not always common practice. It was actually much easier to teach leaders these traits and ideas because they seem so obvious and common sense.
16:55 – “Tamara thought we were going to blow open the door of organizational psychology,” says Wes. The truth is that everyone is talking about these issues now, of well-being, resilience, and how to find meaning. They wanted to create a playbook that organizations could use.
19:12 – What have you done? What skills are you bringing to the organization? That was eye-opening for Wes that it needed to really happen earlier on talking about vision and values in the hiring process even to get the right people to the organization.
20:05 – Somethings that are so important are fostering of the relationships across the organization. The other is embracing the whole person in the organization and authenticity. Meaning to embracing people who show up authentically when they do. People are lonely and we have lost the communities that connect us. So we want more than before. We want purpose and meaning in our work. Tamara talks about how Zappos does this with onboarding and a Bootcamp to foster the relationships as does Google by providing ongoing meetings with people each month. It starts at the leader level to talk about addiction if they must. Another company that does that well is Hubspot who recognized that parents would be affected so they hired musicians to give concerts for kids via Zoom. They also facilitated AA meetings to stay with the program. They don’t just talk about it, they do it!
23:25 – Jason discusses what jumped out to him with the research. One was a collective idea of the culture. That everybody becomes an ambassador for the culture within the organization. What does it look like in language and action? How do we begin to have values in our culture we create? Shifting to hiring, how do we hire the right people? Once people are on board how do we do it? Wes talks about how important it is to express collective ownership to everyone in the organization.
27:20 – The new research challenges organizations to create a safe space for people to speak up within to organization to make it even better. The more diverse the viewpoints the more successful the organization.
28:50 – Jason brings up The Ten Principles of Highly Meaningful Work from the research, check out the article to see. They may sound simple but are not easy. Many will say this is common sense, so why aren’t these practiced? Many just don’t know how says Tamara. It is easy to give surveys and get feedback but not easy to often make changes from that feedback effectively. Tamara recommends Upstream by Dan Heath and tells a story from that book about a river and children and how to stop bad things from happening.
34:10 – In the US we are very KPI-driven culture, but focusing on meaning first would be wonderful but we often aren’t encouraged to do that. Instead, usually, leaders ask will you reach your numbers. You want to spend less time reacting. The things here are easy because they are measurable. It takes some bigger thinking to make a change in an organization.
Creating the stories that narrate our experience. The 10 principles fall behind the 3 pillars of meaningful work and that is belonging, purpose, and excellence are the things that make us most human.
40:30 – You can just read a paper or listen to a podcast and it is fixed, you have actually try and implement it into your organization. You can’t just copy-paste either, it has to be an iterative process in your organization says Wes. One of the silver linings of COVID that has allowed us to pause. Nobody thought we could let people work from home and make choices but here we are. We see the kids, we see the dogs and cats, work has become more human. Meaning is what makes us more human. Creating the stories that narrate our experience. The 10 principles fall behind the 3 pillars of meaningful work and that is belonging, purpose, and excellence.
44:40 – Culture is something we live and breathe and create every single day. Jason thanks Tamara and Wes for their amazing lessons shared today. Be sure to check out this incredible research.
ABOUT THE THERMOSTAT
Conversations and micro-thoughts to engage your mind and heart.
A thermostat is proactive. It sets the temperature in a room. Controls the temperature. Regulates the temperature. But in today’s distracted, fast-paced and digital world, it’s easy for individuals and organizations to act more like thermometers, slipping into reactionary thinking, becoming scattered and inconsistent. The most compelling leaders, teams, organizations, families or collection of humans of any kind operate in thermostat mode. They calibrate their mind and heart to set the temperature for the vision and culture they want to create. Jason Barger, globally celebrated author, keynote speaker, and founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting, is the host of The Thermostat, a podcast journey to discover authentic leadership, create compelling cultures and find clarity of mission, vision, and values.