The Rhythm of Work


September 12, 2013

I was on my way to work and thinking about how I get some of my best post ideas while driving.  The other day I was thinking about the rhythm of driving.  When you drive somewhere, you really have to figure out the rhythm of the traffic around you to get there most efficiently and effectively.  It’s about how you as a driver fit in with the people around you.  And, if you don’t, you might pass them, slow down, or move over a lane to the right or the left.  Work is not really different than that.

When you get to work, you need to figure out the rhythm of the workplace and whether or not you fit in.  And if you don’t, it’s a tell tale sign, a red flag, even in this economy.  People may have felt like they had to remain in a workplace where they don’t fit in with the rhythm but we’re starting to see that change a little.  It’s ok to still be out there looking for opportunities so that you can find a workplace that has the rhythm that you need in order to be successful if you don’t fit in with the rhythm and flow of your current organization.

If you are someone who is happy at organization, the challenge becomes how can you influence the behavior of others to increase the chance that they are fitting with the flow if they are not.  This comes up more and more often as people take on greater workload and they get burned out.  I”m hearing from managers that they are struggling with what to do when you have someone on your staff that has lost that spark, that passion, that fire.  How do you get that back  and have them fit into the work-flow so they are productive?    It goes beyond what you can do to motivate them though.  It is a lot about their self-motivation, so you need to focus on what you can do to provide an environment where that will flourish.

If you are in HR advising the leader, or if you are the leader, I’d like to hear in the comments what you do to help re-ignite that passion and help that employee fit into the rhythm of work.  If they are a good employee, what can we do to get them back into the work-flow? Thanks for your thoughts.


  • If I have a comfortable relationship with the person, I ask them to think about what they truly enjoy about the work. Regardless, we all have things we don’t like but whynot focus on the things we do enjoy

    • @Benjamin- It’s amazing that if we demonstrate a positive attitude instead of focusing on what we don’t like, we can also help engage those around us. thanks for the comment.

    • @Animal- I disagree. I think it’s possible to reach someone who is disengaged. It just takes some time and effort to figure out what type of attention they need. There will always be some people who will never fit into the org culture and that’s when it is important to have the frank discussion with them that they need to find another company.

      @Jeff- I’m very much like you. There have been times at prior jobs where I was not engaged and so I turn inward to start projects (like this blog) to give me the uplift I need.

  • Every job had work that is more mundane. For me, there can be periods of time where the less motivating work is more intense and leave me feeling out of sync with my career and/or employer. When that happens to me, I reach out to a trusted friend or mentor for some “outside” perspective, (or a swift kick in the pants!). Trusted friends, advisers and mentors are critical for me.

  • Sometimes changing the environment can re-ignite the flame of passion in the workplace. What are the hidden talents the burnt out employees hiding? Can you use those hidden talents to re-ignite said employees passion and solve a new and unique problem? What about new challenges? New projects?

    Being my own HR and manager has made me always come up with new ways to give me fire in my belly.

  • It first starts with an honest conversation of what he or she is truly looking for. Based on what they are looking for, together you look at if what they are looking for is aligned with what the organization could provide them.

    So many employees think that the organization is to provide them with the world, but if it isn’t a good fit, no matter what the organization can provide will it be good enough to re-engage them. A lot of people are afraid to here if the organization they are working in is not the right fit, but this is where engaged HR people take the time to then assist those associates with getting somewhere where they can be successful. You have to forget about the turnover because in the long-run, it would be helpful turnover. If you keep them, it could be even more detramental to the organization.

    Just some of my thoughts…..great post Trish!

    • @Chris- You’re right. For some employees, there is nothing that can re-engage them. I think that is why I try to hard to focus my organization on the fact that engagement is not something a leader can do TO an employee. It’s something the employees can do with each other to help sustain the desire to continue to work there. You really need both components: leader and employee interaction and sharing to have true engagement.

  • Ahhh- Fitting in with the culture is just as important as having the right skill set. If it’s not a cultural fit- you will never feel comfortable and may not ever reach your potential.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.





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