This week I want to talk about why employees ration their effort. When you think about the word ‘rationing’ it has a negative connotation. If there are low food supplies you ration the food available and only provide the quantity of food necessary for survival. If there is a drought and or low water supply you ration your available water supplies.
Why would an employee ration their effort in the world of work? I think there are three reasons why.
#1 No clear future. When employees are unclear about the future state or direction of their department, of themselves, of their organization they take their foot off the accelerator and place it firmly on the brake. Ambiguity and uncertainty slows everything down.
What should you do? Provide the clarity that engages the hearts and the minds of everyone involved. Paint a picture of the future that is real, tangible and inspiring.
#2 No personal connection. When employees are unclear as to how they can actively help achieve the future state they disengage from the future and again, they take their foot off the accelerator and put it on the brake.
What should you do? Your job as a leader is to make a direct connection between what each employee does and the linkage to what the department or organization is working to accomplish.
#3 No accountability. When employees don’t take accountability and measure their results they do what they instinctively know how to do…they take their foot off the accelerator and put it on the brake. Some employees know where they are heading individually and organizationally, but without clear metrics and accountability for accomplishing the desired results will underperform.
What should you do? Look at the absence of metrics and accountability like playing a sport without keeping score. Successful leaders find a way to measure everyone’s performance and communicate regularly “this is what you are doing well and should keep doing. This is what you are not doing as well and can improve.”
Ladies and gentlemen, if you ever find yourself or someone inside your organization rationing their effort you now know there are three things that cause it and three things you can do to rectify it.
Which of these three reasons for rationing effort are impacting you?