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Triangle: Mastery, Autonomy, Purpose

Engaging direct service workers on a limited budget – the final post

This is the last of three posts on engaging direct service workers without more pay.

In the first post two posts, I talked about autonomy and mastery.

To summarize:

Autonomy – give people more control over things like when, how and even with whom, they do the work.  This helps them feel in control of their situation.

Mastery – when you find something that really floats someone’s boat, do everything in your power to get them doing more of this and find ways to give them training, feedback and extra support in this area. This helps them feel good about getting good at something they like.

Understanding and using these two things can improve engagement on your team and this equals better outcomes for the people we support and lower staff turnover in our organizations.  It will also make our jobs as managers more rewarding and interesting.

Triangle: Mastery, Autonomy, PurposeThis final post is about purpose.

In the book DRiVE by Daniel Pink, the author talks about a call centre study with a group of call centre representatives.  Their job was to raise funds for a university.  They were split into three groups and each was briefed differently at the start of each shift over a period of time.

The first group was reminded of the personal benefits of working at this job – earning money, developing skills, etc.

The second group was told stories from people who had received scholarships from the funds that were raised and how this had improved their lives.

The final group was a control group; they received no briefings as usual.

What were the results?

The group reminded of what was in it for them, did no better than those in the control group.  But the people in the second group who were reminded what their work accomplished, raised more than twice as much money, through twice as many pledges, as the other groups.

The application of the human craving for purpose in the world of developmental services seems obvious to me.  Talking about WHY we do what we do to help people live their own lives, free from institutions, is far more powerful than talking about how much we get paid and what is in it for each person directly.

I once attended a new employee orientation session for employees of a Manitoba agency called EPIC Opportunities.  During this session, new employees of this agency (and me in this case) learned about the history of community living and we were all given a good dose of why we do what we do in this field.

Starting off people new to the field in this way seems like an amazing idea to me.  Backing it up further by having the front line supervisors make it part of regular discussions with their teams, would take the application of purpose to new levels.

If you have a great example of applying purpose, how you helped your team understand why, pass it on.  The first person who sends me a great example will receive a free copy of DRiVEEmail me or post a comment and I will send you the book!


Inclusion Blog Post

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  1. One of my Mantras is stating our purpose of supporting individuals to be more independant. If we do tasks that the individuals can do for themselves, we rob them of their independance.It may require us to do some training, work along side etc but the ultimate goal it to support people to reach a higher level of independance.By emphasizing our goal, staff have become more aware of what they are doing and why.