It is not a big surprise that many people are struggling. The past year has been incredibly difficult. Bad news seems to be everywhere and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
This constant wear and tear is bound to have negative effects. One of the places that this can be seen is in our workplace. Many of the people we work with are trying to find meaning in their work. But, to many, work seems to have lost meaning. Side note – over the past year many people in society have been called essential workers. So, what does that make the rest of us? Non-essential. That can be crushing to someone who takes pride in their job and the work that they do. Essential or non-essential, there are many who do see their job the same way they did last year.
Why we do something has tremendous impact on our performance. It often drives us – especially through the tough times. Our “why” is more important that “what” we do according to Simon Sinek. Losing our “why” cannot be ignored.
Leaders must be aware of this. They must intentionally check in with their people. How are they? Not superficially, but deep down. Do they remember their “why” or has work lost meaning to them?
This check-in is especially true for those on the “frontlines” in law enforcement – our dispatchers, our officers and deputies, and our correctional folks. The loss of “why” can have a direct impact on the quality of their work. For dispatch, that can lead to missed pieces of information on a call or failure to dispatch backup properly. For officers it can lead to failure to practice emotional discipline or properly use discretion. In corrections, it can cause complacency.
Remembering the meaning we found in our job makes us better, safer, and more productive. It reduces sick time. It minimizes careless, reckless, or unethical behavior.
Leaders must be aware of this – down the chain, up the chain, and on the same level. We take care of each other no matter the rank or job of the person. Leaders help others find meaning – even when everything seems meaningless.