Job Satisfaction, Productivity, Performance Outcomes are a few of several terms that are bandied about as measures to help determine the behavioral connection between completed tasks and organizational value. At the center of the assessment is the individual who brings their T.E.S.T (Time, Energy, Skills and Temperament) to a set of circumstances in which the true value of their actions is tightly woven between what is perceived and what is rewarded. While some performance management systems try to address the successful completion of tasks that are structural elements of a job description, little is said about the value and individual worth that is the real catalyst for whether the final determination is ‘Did Not Meet Expectations’, ‘Met Expectations’ or ‘Exceeded Expectations’. As with any measure perception, like a monocle, is in the eye of the beholder.
Without having to quote a lot of the literature on job satisfaction, employee engagement and performance outcomes, it is no secret that there is, in general, a gap between what an employer may perceive as the true value of an individual’s contributions and the individual’s perception as to the true value of their contributions. Hiding in the weeds of that perception is the mistaken belief that task completion and ego are not connected. In fact, it could be argued that the talents being brought to the completion of organizational tasks are a reflection and extension of the person providing the T.E.S.T. From that vantage point, it is easy to see why expectations are ‘Met’ or ‘Not Met’ by what is being rewarded. It becomes a more interesting conundrum when the rewards for the completed tasks are not indicative of the true talents being measured. So, the true value of the relationship is never really addressed because the completed tasks, not the true talents, are what the organization uses as its final measure.
A quick eye test of some of the mission statements of the Fortune 100 companies reveals that the words ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ are embedded within their paragraphs which leads one to believe that, perhaps, one of the many reasons why they are a Fortune 100 company is that they reward innovation and creativity to support the true value of the talents they employ. Perhaps their cultures are aligned to trigger, reinforce and sustain that inner drive that compels an individual to want to marry their talent with an organizational system of RECOGNITION and REWARD!
It could be that they have a better understanding of why employees seek value through what they do because it is an extension of who they are. Maybe they have figured out that the recognition of individual contribution goes way beyond the acknowledgement that one has met the expectations of their job description. It is possible that they have gained insights based on their own efforts to close the gap between what one is expected to do and what one aspires to create. Upon reflection, they may have learned that increasing levels of job dissatisfaction and frustration are a result of limiting their recruited talent to completing tasks and, thereby, suppressing the creativity and innovation critical to their success. It is likely that they know that suppressed talents will find paths to expression or paths to exit. Conceivably, they could have reasoned that the true value of individual contribution does not reside, solely, in organizational metrics but is a part of the inner drive that allows individuals to measure their own existence along a continuum of life tasks. And, for all we know… they just got lucky!
By guest blogger, Lee Meadows, PhD
Dr. Meadows is a professor at Walsh College, teaching online and on-ground management and MBA courses. In addition, Dr. Meadows is a keynote speaker, training and development consultant, and motivational speaker for corporate and community groups and professional associations.
In 2006, Dr. Meadows published “Take the Lull by the Horns: Closing the Leadership Gap”. He is also the author of numerous articles on leadership, management, diversity, career paths and projections and education.