In today’s fast-paced work environment, where the focus often shifts to deadlines and deliverables, it’s easy for leaders to overlook a fundamental human need – the need to feel valued. When employees don’t feel they matter, a chain reaction of negative consequences can occur isolation, loneliness, insignificance, rejection, and a sense of social worthlessness. As leaders, it is crucial to prioritize helping our team members feel that they truly matter, especially in these challenging times.
Fortunately, there are simple yet powerful ways to achieve this. By managing workloads effectively, communicating clearly, emphasizing well-being, and demonstrating unwavering support, leaders can create a positive environment where employees thrive. It may sound cliché, but it remains true: people don’t care until they know how much you care.
Dr. Jennifer Nash, the esteemed author of “Be Human, Lead Human,” conducted interviews with various leaders to explore the concept of mattering. Through her research, she identified a common pattern among leaders who made their team members feel valued. Nash explains, “Leaders who made people feel valued exhibited similar behaviors. They showed genuine interest in their accomplishments and aspirations, sought to understand their dreams and drivers, leveraged their strengths and spirit, and aligned their purpose with their work.”
Drawing from her findings, Nash developed the MATTER model—a multidimensional framework that empowers leaders at all levels to help others add value and feel valued. Let’s delve into the six dimensions of the MATTER model, as outlined in her book: Meaning, Accomplishments, Targets, Thinking, Energy, and Role.
Implementing these dimensions into daily actions, leaders who genuinely care about their people have witnessed remarkable results. They have experienced higher levels of engagement within their teams, lower turnover rates, and overall improved performance from their employees.
To make the MATTER model actionable for leaders, Nash has provided six steps in her book that transform the dimensions into practical strategies:
- Curate Meaning Take the time to discover what motivates and drives each individual on your team. Identify their internal and external drivers, and encourage them to define their purpose or calling. Invite them to share how their drivers inspire their work, fostering a deeper connection to their tasks and goals.
- Celebrate Accomplishments Gain awareness of each team member’s accomplishments. Understand their journey and how they arrived at their current position. Seek out what they are particularly proud of achieving and why. Explore the obstacles they overcame to attain these accomplishments and emphasize how these achievements have positively influenced their lives.
- Crystallize Targets Learn about the aspirations and goals of each team member. Identify the support, resources, or knowledge they require to achieve these objectives. Pinpoint the desired timeframe for their targets and encourage them to envision how their lives will change for the better upon achieving these goals.
- Clarify Thinking Develop an understanding of each person’s thinking preference – whether they lean towards linear or conceptual thinking. Determine their mindset type – fixed or growth mindset. Show genuine interest in their perspective on current organizational challenges and explore how their thinking style influences their decision-making process.
- Craft Energy Evaluate the types of work that either energize or deplete each team member. Consider how you can create an environment that fosters positive energy, allowing your employees to perform at their best. Tailor their tasks to align with their passions and strengths, enabling them to excel.
- Create Role Engage in a conversation with each team member to discuss their role and responsibilities at work. Encourage them to reflect on the extent to which they contribute to the greater good. Identify one aspect they would change about their work, and inspire them to articulate how their role would be different if it resembled their dream job.
Nash emphasizes that human-centered leaders thrive on helping others add value and feel valued. They achieve this by eliminating judgment and expanding their understanding of individual experiences. By integrating these practices into your leadership toolkit, you can create an environment where every team member feels valued, fostering their growth and maximizing their potential.
In conclusion, the importance of making team members feel they matter cannot be overstated. By implementing the MATTER model and embracing the six dimensions of Meaning, Accomplishments, Targets, Thinking, Energy, and Role, leaders can reduce turnover rates, increase team productivity, and create a work culture that fosters engagement and fulfillment. Remember, as a leader, your actions and mindset set the tone for your team’s success. So, take the first step today and let your team know that they truly matter.
By: M Imran Sheikh