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Mastering the Mattering Skill: How to Make Your Team Feel Valued

Over the past few years, unpredictable industry shifts, and rapid changes to modern workplaces, among others, have posed significant challenges to the future of workers.

When work becomes such a complicated place, one question always lingers for me: How can we not only endure but help ourselves and our colleagues thrive?

Today, Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman, startup advisor, executive, entrepreneur, and author of the book, Tomorrowmind, shares the top five critical skills to thrive in today's modern workplace, namely: Prospection, Resilience, Innovation, Social Connection, and Mattering.

The Mattering Skill

After six years of research through BetterUp Labs, in partnership with Gabriella's co-author Martin Seligman, and many other leading behavioral scientists, mattering has emerged as one of the critical skills needed today.

Being able to help your teammates understand why their efforts matter, especially when organizations have to shift gears quickly from one thing to another, is one of the significant skills a manager must possess to succeed in today's work landscape.

Gabriella shares one prominent example of this, which many of us have experienced firsthand. Imagine you've been leading a team for nine months, and everybody is working hard to get the project done when something unexpected happens (for example, an organizational restructuring or change with the client direction). Suddenly, your team is asked to put aside their current project and work on a new one.

How would you tell them they must stop what they're doing because it’s no longer needed, let alone ask these folks to put on the same hard work into the next project?

Bridging the Mattering Gap

Gabriella acknowledges that there is indeed a broader conversation about meaningful and purposeful work and how it's hard for a manager to act on. But as a manager, there is something that you can do to bridge that mattering gap at a basic level.

Managers need to be able to explain the point of a work and its significance, even if that work ultimately gets shelved.

So Gabriella and her team created a tool they used in BetterUp, called the Mattering Map.

The Mattering Map is a map for individuals of how their work matters in the organization and the different ways that it matters.

It starts with how an individual embodies the organization's values, like how you show up every day at work as a manager and which values you celebrate.

The second layer is about the teams, clients, and the individuals that you've helped. It answers the question: To whom does your work matter? To cultivate this mattering skill in your team, what you can do as a manager is to talk about key members in your group whose work has made a difference. In this way, it expands their sense of purpose beyond what they're aware of, and it reinforces your ability as a leader to see and understand your team and their work impact.

Lastly, the outermost layer of the mattering skill is business metrics. As a manager, you should be able to tell your team how this chain of actions they were a part of is leading to those business metrics and decisions.

One suggestion that I learned from Gabriella on how to cultivate the mattering skill is to devote a few minutes to each team member. During these brief, private conversations, you’re showing this person that you value their work and honor their contributions to the team or company.

Doing this short yet impactful one-on-one–maybe once a quarter or twice a year–would go a long way. As she said, whether you're a star performer or simply doing what it takes to get the job done, we all deserve to feel that our work matters. And we all deserve that human connection with our manager.

If you want more of this, listen to my entire conversation with Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman HERE and learn how you can tap into your brain’s natural strength.

Connect with Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman

- Follow Gabriella on Instagram here

- Check Gabriella out on LinkedIn here

- Learn more about Gabriella’s book Tomorrowmind here

* Members of the Modern Manager community get a chance to own a signed copy of Dr. Kellerman’s book, “Tomorrowmind”.

Get it when you join The Modern Manager Community.


The Modern Manager is a leadership podcast for rockstar managers who want to create a working environment where people thrive, and great work gets done.

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