by Mike Clark-Madison
Sometimes, work is boring. We all know that. But usually, when we acknowledge this truth, we're thinking and talking about the menial and formulaic tasks we have to handle. As such, we assume that the people with the most boring work are the folks at the bottom of the ladder, who have to do more of these tasks more often.
But a recent Washington Post article opened with a vignette about former high-ranking U.S. Treasury official Bruce Bartlett, whose fancy title, nice paycheck, corner office and executive perks didn't stop him from being bored out of his mind. Enough so to bail out one afternoon to catch a matinee— where he ran into another, equally bored, official from another department. "It was kind of awkward," he told the Post.
On the other hand, we've all encountered people who perform tasks we consider mindless drudgery—with all the passion and commitment we could ever hope to muster. Boredom rushes in to fill a vacuum left behind when a sense of purpose is absent from our work.
It doesn't matter what tasks we have to do, or under what conditions we perform them. If we feel those tasks have a purpose, we can succeed. If we don't, we're bored and set up to fail. Worst of all, being bored is stressful— not just demotivating and demoralizing, but actually uncomfortable.
The good news is that managers have the power to keep our people from being bored. Because we can help our team members see the purpose in what they do—how it helps the team, the enterprise, the world and each of us as individuals. In the battle against workplace boredom, we're the commanders. And that's enough of a purpose to keep us from getting bored.