BY MARCEL SCHWANTES, INC. CONTRIBUTING EDITOR AND FOUNDER, LEADERSHIP FROM THE CORE @MARCELSCHWANTES
Do you matter? Do your team members matter? I ask because to matter is a universal human need. When people don’t feel they matter, they may also feel isolated, lonely, insignificant, rejected, or socially worthless. Now more than ever, leaders must prioritize helping people on their team matter.
Simple ways to do this include managing workloads, communicating clearly, emphasizing well-being, and having employees’ backs. It may seem trite, but it bears repeating: people don’t care until they know how much you care.
When Dr. Jennifer Nash, author of Be Human, Lead Human, interviewed leaders about mattering, she discovered a pattern: “Leaders who made people feel valued exhibited similar behaviors,” Nash says. “They inquired about accomplishments and aspirations. They sought to understand dreams and drivers. They leveraged strengths and spirit. They aligned employees’ purpose with their work.”
Nash then developed her MATTER model — a multidimensional framework for leaders at all levels to help others add value and feel valued. Straight from her book, the six dimensions are Meaning, Accomplishments, Targets, Thinking, Energy, and Role.
When these dimensions are implemented into daily actions by great leaders that care about their people, they were found to have higher levels of engagement on their teams, lower turnover, and their people performed better.
Nash’s framework can be turned into six executable steps for leaders, as outlined in her book:
1. Curate Meaning
Discover what motivates and drives each person on your team. Identify their internal and external drivers and have them define their purpose or calling. Invite them to tell you how their drivers inspire their work.
2. Celebrate Accomplishments
Gain awareness of each person’s accomplishments. Understand how they got to where they are today. Seek out what the person is particularly proud of accomplishing and why. Identify what they had to overcome to realize these accomplishments. Most importantly, have them clarify how these accomplishments changed them or impacted their life for the better.
3. Crystallize Targets
Learn where the person wants to go and what they want to achieve. Identify any support, resources, or knowledge required to achieve these goals. Pinpoint their desired timeframe for these targets. Have them share how their life will be different when they achieve these goals.
4. Clarify Thinking
Gain clarity on the person’s thinking preference–linear or conceptual. Determine what type of mindset they have–is it a fixed or growth mindset? Show interest in their perspective on a current organizational challenge. Explore how their thinking style influences their information processing and decision-making.
5. Craft Energy
Evaluate what type of work expands or depletes each person’s energy. Then, examine how you can create an energy-giving environment where your people perform at their best. Finally, tailor their work to what they love to do.
6. Create Role
Ask each person on your team to share their role and responsibilities at work. Have them identify to what extent they see themselves contributing to the greater good. Clarify one thing they would change about their work. Then encourage them to explain how their role would be different if it was their dream job.
“Human-centered leaders love to help others add value and feel valued,” Nash writes. “They achieve this by eliminating judgment and expanding understanding.” Consider how you can integrate these practices into your leadership tool kit to help others add value and feel they matter.