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Meaningfulness at Work: A Personal Journey

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By Nicole Cox, Chief Recruitment Officer
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

Meaningfulness at work shows up in org theory textbooks, but it has an intensely personal side as well. I want to share some of the ways meaningfulness has resonated in my own professional growth. It won’t be as “touchy-feely” as you might think. In fact, the separation between personal and business is not black and white. And the journey may be personal, but rarely have I ever been alone.

New Ways to Care

An assignment in my master’s program asked me to create a personal vision statement. For the longest time I drew a blank. I looked in textbooks, talked with classmates, searched online. Then I realized that the answer was within me, and my vision became clear: Find new ways to care.

As a professional my vision is to find new ways to care about Decision Toolbox (DT), our employees and our clients. On the personal side I look for new ways to care about myself, which includes family, integrity, health, continued education, and meditation and faith. 

Finding Meaningfulness in Numbers

I grudgingly conceded that, in order to care about DT, I needed to care about numbers — or at least care about them in a more meaningful way. I’ve always known they are important, but I didn’t like or understand them. Recruitment is about personal connections, right? But now I am finding new meaningfulness in the numbers by learning about them. No one will ever call me “data driven,” but learning about the numbers is helping me grow and, in turn, enhancing my value to DT. 

Finding a Better Way

When my DT colleagues and I meet with a new client, we’re not thinking, “What can we get out of this?” We’re thinking, “How we can help them achieve their goals? Are our services right for their needs?” For example, a large financial services corporation engaged us for a special seasonal recruitment project. They told us what they wanted done and how much they would pay. However, after mulling it over, we told them we could do it differently, achieving the same goals for about a third of the price.

It may sound all too altruistic to be true, but it benefitted DT in the long run: that company comes back every year for the seasonal project. Rather than being two self-serving companies, we serve one another. Caring about clients expresses a value that has strong meaningfulness for me, and for DT.

Finding Others’ Strengths

Loren Miner (DT’s COO) and I wrote about servant leadership in a previous post, so I won’t delve into it here. However, meaningfulness in leadership, for me, is about providing opportunities for team members to:

  • Grow and develop by sharing my knowledge.
  • Make connections, such as through break room activities in our internal IM system (we’re 100% virtual, so we share jokes and insights around a digital water cooler) and other activities.
  • Be recognized for achievements and even mistakes. When someone makes a mistake that helps us all learn, that person may receive a gift card in the mail.
  • Earn financial rewards through a flexible compensation structure that puts earning power in the hands of team members.

Finding the Me in Mom

Now that my children are older they still need me, but not in an hour-by-hour way. Few things will ever be as meaningful as being a mother, but now I have time to do other meaningful things, like serving as a barista each week at church. It’s a way of creating community, of making others feel welcome. 

If it’s Not All About Me, Why Do I Feel so Good?

I’ve learned on my journey that I find meaning in caring about others. But it’s good for me, too: helping others creates something within us that makes us happier and healthier. According to an article in the Huffington Post, “19 Healthy Reasons to Help Others,” those who volunteer and help others tend to live longer.

Something about human nature is hardwired for collaboration, trust and sharing. And that is meaningful for employers and employees alike.

Connect with Nicole on LinkedIn or Twitter.

To learn more about Decision Toolbox, contact us – we’d love to hear from you!

In case you missed them, check out the other posts in our meaningfulness at work series:

A Hitchhiker’s Guide to a Small Part of the Meaningfulness Galaxy
Meaningfulness at Work: Find Your Sense of Purpose, Love Your Work
Don’t Dream of a Meaningful Job — Demand It
Meaningful Work: Change Your Attitude or Change Your Job


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One Response to “Meaningfulness at Work: A Personal Journey”

  1. May 21, 2014 at 7:23 am, Understanding What is Meaningful: Life as a Spreadsheet | DecisionToolbox said:

    […] Meaningfulness at Work: A Personal Journey A Hitchhiker’s Guide to a Small Part of the Meaningfulness Galaxy Meaningfulness at Work: Find Your Sense of Purpose, Love Your Work Don’t Dream of a Meaningful Job — Demand It Meaningful Work: Change Your Attitude or Change Your Job […]


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