My post this week was inspired by Lucy Kellaway, columnist at the FT and Daniel Pink, the author. Ms Kellaway has been writing about work and business for 20 years. In her latest column she quotes Mr Pink “we yearn for three things in a job: autonomy, mastery and purpose” (Note the absence of money). Check out his new book Drive.

My evidence from 30 years running businesses in Europe and the US matches these three things pretty well. The question is more about how to achieve them. Some thoughts:


  • Define the clear performance profile expected from the job.
  • Be clear on the resources available to perform it.
  • Ensure the candidate owns the job, be crystal clear on accountability.


  • Build self managing metrics around the job. What gets measured gets done.
  • Praise openly improved performance.
  • Encourage curiosity to understand why the candidate is failing or succeeding.
  • Ensure the owner of the job reports on the significant metrics on a regular basis. Mastery comes from not just doing but writing about it.
  • Ensure mentoring of juniors to the job is done. Teaching a job builds a deeper understanding than doing.


  • The performance profile of every job should align with the business results the company promises to deliver.
  • Refresh roles to ensure they are aligned to the objectives of the company e.g. it should be myopically clear to the sales professional why her sales scripts connects with the core purpose of the company. Or if you like, the company’s messaging, core values, key promises to customers should appear in translated form within sales scripts.
  • Educate all staff on your company’s compelling story, turning it into an evangelistic message. Passion is infectious to prospective candidates as well as long term holders of positions. But you need to link the story to each job. Put the job in context.
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