In Greek mythology, Sisyphus, the king of Corinth, saw Zeus steal away with a woman named Aegina and confessed what he saw to her father. When Zeus realized what Sisyphus had done, he condemned him to Tartarus, where Sisyphus would spend eternity rolling a boulder to the top of a steep hill, only to have it roll back down again. Zeus knew that the worst punishment he could render was a time without end of meaningless work.
When those you lead are given assignments without any explanation of why the task needs to be done, they sometimes feel like the miserable Sisyphus. Each repetitive task that seems to accomplish nothing appears to be an eternal punishment. Each goal that comes without a reason for its completion seems like one of Sisyphus’ boulders. They may struggle to get it up the hill, but they do it without enthusiasm. Their efforts lack commitment and creativity. Meaningless work breaks the spirit. (Remember how the guards finally got to Cool Hand Luke in the movie by the same name?) It destroys your team member’s confidence in their leaders’ competence.
People are motivated by making a difference. They need to know how what they do impacts the final result. They want to know not only what buy why. As you assign tasks, be sure to tell them why they roll the boulder.