“Being interested in a task is essential to being good at it”

Do your employees know why they are doing what they are doing? In my book The Ten Commandments of Management, the second chapter emphasizes the importance of putting the work of your employees in the context of why they are doing what they are doing. - What is the goal, what is the output, what is the long-range plan?

Research by Paul A. O’Keefe, a professor of psychology at Yale, reinforces the importance of seeing the reason for doing what you are doing to achieving satisfaction and success at it. Calculus homework taken in the abstract can be a bore and success can be fleeting. Calculus understood as a tool to help an architect design more interesting buildings is a desirable skill that she will want to master so that she can be the best architect she can be.

I talk a lot about motivation in the book, and here is way to tie the value of a skill or activity to the motivation to acquire it. As a manager I cannot motivate you to like it, but I can create the atmosphere in which you may be more likely to embrace an activity or skill that might otherwise be boring or off-putting.

Invite your employees to like what they are doing and be motivated by doing the work by letting them know what it will get them in the end; not money, but the ability to do their work and do it better.

Interested in the research - see Review section of the N.Y. Times Sept 7th 2014 article entitled Liking Work Really Matters.

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