Why leaders should understand my wish to be a carpenter… in my fantasy life

I don’t build stuff. I get splinters from marble, and my husband insists I maintain a minimum distance of 10 feet from any power tool (or frankly the plastic hammer… or is it a wrench?… in my kids’ Fisher Price toolbox). I have minimal hand-eye coordination, and stand strongly by my assertion that Duct Tape does indeed fix all.

Good news: this is NOT an advertisement for my carpentry skills. You may now exhale.

But this is my acknowledgement of the craving we all have for creating the tangible and necessary; the product or outcome anticipated and celebrated by others upon its arrival. I think it’s why I so enjoy cooking (much to my children’s chagrin… because clearly a pizza will always do!).

This is my acknowledgement of the craving we all have for creating the tangible and necessary

So many of us today earn our living as contributors to the knowledge economy. And as such, we often undertake projects whose finish lines are months if not years in the distance. And as so many businesses and leaders grapple with the great challenge of employee engagement, this universal desire for achievement, for completion or creation, should not be brushed aside.

As a leader, there are so many important things you can and should be doing for your team… and yourself. But in my mind, one the simplest and greatest gifts we can give our team members is the gift of outcome (and the associated recognition and celebration that comes along with it).

As project plans and Gantt charts are being built, resources allocated, and budgets established… don’t overlook the importance of identifying and articulating LOTS of small milestones along the journey of any large-scale project. Be clear about what each milestone looks like; describe its ability to deliver impact, and put it in context of the overall piece of work.

And most importantly, as each is achieved, celebrate it as if it were its own finish line. It doesn’t need to be an awards ceremony — but contributions should be noted and recognized. And team members made to feel like they’ve given your organization a place to store games… and extra paint cans… and random extension cords… (and other weird stuff you’d find in my cabinets!)

How do you create meaning and celebrate outcome and achievement with your teams?

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