Since 2021, our team at Ambition In Motion has been implementing our AIM Insights program within many companies to help their managers better understand the perception between themselves and their direct reports and to provide coaching to help those managers have more effective one-on-one meetings with their teams.
One area of measurement we focus on is “work orientation.” Simply put, work orientation is how a person views work as part of their life. This quick, 15-question assessment helps people understand their why for work.
Some people view their work as a job (motivated by work/life balance), while others as a career (motivated by professional growth), and others as a calling (motivated by professional and personal mission alignment). We repeatedly measure the work orientation of our participants, and this has revealed a few fascinating insights.
One finding is that work orientation is fluid, meaning it can change over time. When originally completing the Work Orientation Assessment, results showed that 64% of direct reports were mostly career-oriented, 20% were calling-oriented, and 22% were job-oriented.
After assessing a sample set of 164 direct reports who completed monthly surveys for at least a year, we have discovered some interesting results. After one year working under a manager using AIM Insights, the results showed that calling orientation increased about 5%, career orientation increased 6%, and job orientation decreased 12.5%. As people work with AIM Insights managers, we see their motivation for work change.
We have also analyzed over 4,000 individuals’ work orientation. The results are that work orientation is changing for those individuals, but not nearly all in the same direction as direct reports in our AIM Insights program (i.e., increased focus on career and calling orientations).
What does this mean?
The employees and managers using AIM Insights are more likely to find their work motivation to be from a career or calling orientation. This means employees are more interested in promotions and in the mission/vision/core values of the company and are more likely to recommend the company to their friends and family for employment or for referring business.
This helps them view their work as a career or calling instead of a job. They want to step up and do more than the bare minimum to get by. They are more eager to take on responsibilities and roles for the opportunity to learn. And they are more likely to put more into their work because they see the work contributing to something greater than themselves.
Across all the teams we assessed, the only meaningful change to the way direct reports experienced their work was how their manager treated them after starting AIM Insights. Here are a few findings we’ve identified by working with our executive coaches.
◗ As opposed to avoiding conflict because managers are uncomfortable with difficult conversations, managers are now embracing those conversations, leading to better resolutions.
◗ As opposed to fumbling through an attempt at a hard conversation because the manager didn’t practice nor receive feedback from anyone, managers are now coming prepared for their one-on-one meetings with their direct reports.
◗ As opposed to waiting to see if a subtle behavior that irritated the manager turns into a larger problem because the manager doesn’t know how to approach a direct report with constructive criticism, managers are now targeting these conversations head-on and coming into those meetings prepared.
◗ As opposed to having performance reviews rife with subjectivity and recency bias, managers are now coming into performance reviews prepared with full understanding as to what each employee has been working on over the entire period being reviewed.
◗ As opposed to the dreaded “surprise performance review,” where direct reports feel blindsided by their manager, managers are now being proactive and helping each direct report emphasize their strengths and work on their weaknesses. Immediately discussing feedback ensures that managers and direct reports are on the same page and that nobody is surprised by any feedback given in the performance review because that feedback has been given consistently throughout the year.
◗ As opposed to managers setting goals for their employees and being a “tactical firefighter” (e.g., “I don’t need to explain why this is important, just do it!”), managers now have their direct reports set goals and give their direct reports feedback on why those goals are impactful or not impactful and why. This empowers employees to have a clearer vision as to how their work contributes to the greater picture of the company.
◗ As opposed to managers attempting to “read the tea leaves” and going to their local soothsayer to attempt to understand how their employees are feeling about them as a leader, they can look at the data and observe how their team feels about them and where there might be perception gaps.
Essentially, managers who use AIM Insights with their teams drive greater feelings of career and calling orientation over the span of a year compared with managers who don’t use AIM Insights.•
Mintz is founder of Ambition in Motion, a firm that helps companies increase employee engagement and collaboration by implementing corporate mentor programs.