Note: Listen to this post instead using the audio player below, and consider subscribing on your favorite podcast player!
When running a company, it’s easy to get caught up in systems in processes. Numbers and figures. The day-to-day problems that need to be resolved.
And as your company grows, this problem usually only gets worse. You become so wrapped up in the immediate needs of your company, that you’re unable to step back and see the bigger picture. And unfortunately, this type of mindset often becomes reflected in the company’s leadership – which has an even more devastating effect on employees.
Recently, I went through a very stressful period for one of my eCommerce brands. Orders surged as buyers switched to online shopping shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began, and it became incredibly overwhelming for my staff and I.
In fact, it became so stressful, I began to wonder why I was putting myself through this.
My employees were stressed out as well.
To make things even worse, we weren’t sure when there would be an end in sight. While orders continued to increase, we also were unable to hire, and had to change systems around to accommodate social distancing requirements as best as we could.
In other words, we had more work to do, but a less efficient way to actually carry it out.
Finding Meaning In Suffering
I recently read back through the brilliant book, ‘Man’s Search For Meaning‘ by Viktor E. Frankl. Viktor was a psychiatrist that described his experiences and observations while forced to work in a Nazi concentration camp.
One of his key observations was that people who were able to find some sort of meaning to their suffering fared much better than those who found their suffering meaningless.
Now obviously, what my team and I went through is not remotely close to the horrors experienced by Viktor Frankl. However, with this concept in mind, I tried to see if I could find a way to apply it anyway.
I began to look for ways to show my employees – and myself for that matter, how the work we were doing actually had a real impact on actual people’s lives.
We primarily sell baby clothing, with cute or funny designs on the garments. Many of our shoppers are parents, but many of them are also buying the products as gifts.
I reminded my employees that there were thousands of babies wearing our clothing at that very moment. That the designs give parents another reason to smile every day. That gift shoppers were able to form better friendships by choosing the perfect gift. That countless parents have used our clothing for pregnancy announcements or gender reveals, moments that they would remember forever.
I sought out and compiled a list of some of our most recent reviews and my favorite customer stories. I found pictures and video of our products on Instagram, and helped employees to truly recognize that they made these moments possible. Notable example below:
View this post on Instagram
We weren’t just manufacturing and shipping products. In this new frame of mind, we were helping customers to create a beautiful moment for themselves and their families.
Which, let me tell you, is a lot more motivating than simply ‘operating a heat press’ or ‘sealing boxes.’
Look for opportunities to show yourself and your team the true impact their role has – how it fits into the overall bigger picture. Even the smallest roles have their value.
Remember, employees with a sense of purpose and meaning will be more motivated and more productive – while also feeling better about their job as a whole.
I’d love it if you’d share with me a story about how your work has impacted somebody else’s life, and how you felt when you first heard that story. I’ll be looking to feature a couple of them in a future blog post or video.
If you don’t have a story you’ve received from one of your customers, share with me what you do and how it’s improving the lives of others – even if its only a small way.
I look forward to hearing from you!
– James McAllister