Are Your Employees Running To Work or From Work?

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What percentage of your employees are doing the minimum amount of work required to keep their jobs? Perhaps they are not underperforming to the point you want to “suggest they find other opportunities” nor can you put them on a performance improvement plan. But you know they are not giving nearly the effort they are capable of.

A recent Gallup Research study found that 70% of U.S. workers are not engaged at work. Similarly, a Harvard Business Review study found that only 24% of employees are highly engaged. This is a problem of epidemic proportion and begs the question, why would an employee only give partial effort or do just the minimum? The number one reason I find is a lack of purpose.

In my book, 7 Principles of Transformational Leadership, I make the case that purpose is a game changer with regards to the amount of effort people are willing to exert while at work. When you have a hope, dream or aspiration that has grabbed hold of you and won’t let go, employees are more enthused, exert more energy, and are vastly more persistent. These are the employees that are running to work in the morning because of the contribution they’re excited about making.

There are also employees that are running from work at the end of the day. These employees don’t have a purpose that is compelling and they do enough work to keep their jobs and not get fired. But, there is no fire in the belly and they are simply going through the motions of work.

Purpose is a foundational principle in my book. Have you defined and embraced your leadership purpose and your team’s purpose? How can you use The Purpose Principle to entice your employees to run to work as opposed from work? Here are three strategies I use with my clients:

Make purpose aspirational. This is the “what” question of your purpose. You must answer the question, what do we want to accomplish? What’s important about it and what value and benefits will be delivered to both customers and employees for pursuing this purpose?

Make purpose personal. This is the “why” question of your purpose. In order to have people run to work there must be a compelling reason for them to start running. There must be a fire that’s ignited in their imagination as to why they should care, exert themselves, and flat out give a hoot.

Make purpose practical. This is the “how” question of your purpose. All too often leaders craft a compelling what, have a stirring why and fall flat on how to go about accomplishing the purpose. There are at least 50% of all employees that benefit from hearing your how’s and then and only then will their creative juices start flowing as to how they can take your ideas and make them better.

Just imagine the impact on employee retention, customer satisfaction and your bottom line if you could double the number of highly engaged employees in your organization!

Hugh’s Monday Morning Mindset Challenge:

This week, ask three employees to articulate your team purpose and their role in accomplishing it. At the end of 60 seconds, ask yourself if their explanation was clear, bold, compelling and enthusiastic. If not, identify if it is the what, why or the how that needs addressing and do so.

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