Month: July 2019

Our “Why” and Employee Engagement

A question came up recently about what the real difference is between employee engagement and employee satisfaction. In brief, satisfaction has to do with the “externals” i.e. pay, benefits, working conditions, job security. Engagement has to do with the “internals” i.e. purpose, “voice”, belonging, mastery. The numbers are sobering. Just over 50% of employees are satisfied and yet just over 30% are engaged. Could you imagine if we were 50% engaged? 75%? 90%? What an incredible opportunity! Every business on the planet has a mission to be fulfilled and capable, talented people to fulfill that mission. We must invest more time in talking about the “why” of what we do, not just what we do! Every employee wants to be a part of building something special, they want to be engaged. If they haven’t or don’t it’s because they haven’t found their “why” or, in some cases, don’t even know they have one! Let’s commit to helping each other find our “why”! And finding our “why” always starts by remembering we are here to serve others first. Let’s all find our “why”, get engaged in our work and, through our businesses, “be the change we want to see in the world!” hashtag#employeeengagementhashtag#businesshashtag#masteryhashtag#missions

Where Engagement Begins

To me, to be engaged at work means to care deeply about the outcome. To go “above and beyond”, to push yourself, to overcome the challenges and resolve the conundrums. To be engaged means seeing the bigger picture, and not just the “work”, but more importantly the purpose behind the work. To be engaged is to be a part of “building something special”. So where does real engagement begin? In the mind of each employee. They have to believe three things about themselves: They have been created for a greater purpose or mission. They have been given gifts and talents within which to fulfill that purpose. There is work prepared in advance for them to do. Put simply, each person has a purpose, they can fill that purpose and there is work out there, their position, that they need to do. The problem is, in many cases, when we look for someone to join our company, we look at who has the background, education, and experience to do the job. That’s not bad, it’s just not enough. The real question isn’t “can we fill this job?” Or “can I get this job?” The real question is “are we supposed to be working together?” Are they supposed to join us in fulfilling our mission and can we help them in fulfilling their mission? In an employer/employee relationship, it comes down to three things: Competence: Can they do the work and can we do the work together? Character: Can they be in it to serve others first as we serve others first? Chemistry: Do they “get” us and do we “get” them? It doesn’t work if they can’t do the work. It also doesn’t work if they’re selfish or we’re selfish. And it really doesn’t work if they don’t understand or, in some cases, don’t like what we do. Engagement is relatively simple but it isn’t easy. We need to speak directly to their competence, character, and chemistry and finish by asking whether or not we’re supposed to work together! Based on the numbers, almost 70% of employees out there would benefit greatly by being where they belong. Can you imagine how productive we could be! When we find that person who has the competence, the character, and the chemistry and is supposed to join our team, we can’t help but to “build something special together”! hashtag#employeeengagement hashtag#buildsomethingspecial

The Big Picture

I was taught, early in my career, that group dynamics is a powerful force always at work in our companies. Stated simply it says that in any given group: 20% will lead 60% will follow and 20% will resist The problem is if leaders aren’t leading, by default, the resistors are. And, many times, this can feel like 80% of the company is moving in the wrong direction. Maintaining the status quo, focusing on problems, finding reasons to not move forward. The question becomes: how do we get moving in the right direction? Conventional wisdom would have us focus on the resistors and get them to buy-in. That doesn’t work. Why? Because resistors are far better at deflecting than we are at holding them accountable. Like many things in leadership, we must use a counter-intuitive approach. The 1st thing to do is bring your leaders close and ask them to pursue a greater vision that serves all and take on more responsibility. Next, we ask the followers to get better right where they are. This will begin to move the organization in the right direction and helps bring the resistors to a decision point: should I get on this bus or should I get off? This is where the team really starts to work together building something special! hashtag#leadershiphashtag#directionhashtag#buildingsomethingspecial

The Two Primary Motivations

“If I help you succeed, I succeed. If we help others succeed, we succeed.” Communication is made up of 3 parts: 55% body language, 38% tone and inflection of voice, 7% are the words we actually speak. There are 2 primary motivations: Love and Fear. Love makes us selfless and fear makes us selfish. These are the three keys to leading and building something special. We must be in it to help others succeed first. We were not put on this planet to serve ourselves. We are here to serve others. Client, company, and team. 93% of our communication is non-verbal. What drives our non-verbals is our true motivation. We can try to mask it by trying to say or do the “right” thing but if our motivation is to serve ourselves, it won’t work. So what are our primary motivations? I’ve boiled it down to two: Love and Fear. Fear represents the worst of ourselves, it’s a lie and it makes us selfish. Love represents the best of ourselves, it’s the truth and it makes us selfless. It’s time to be selfless.


So, What Holds Us Back?

To think that we need to feel a certain way to do the right thing! Tim Keller, in his book, Counterfeit Gods, talked about the 4 idols: Power Approval Comfort Control These are what holds us back. If we want to be successful, we have to help others succeed first. This is the Ultimate Success Principle and it cannot be violated. That means we have to do the right things for others for the right reason! Where this gets messed up is: When we want to feel Powerful but we don’t. When we want to feel Approved but we don’t. When we want to feel Comfortable but we don’t. When we want to feel that we’re in Control but we don’t. Whatever “idol” we’re seeking to serve, we look for “externals” or evidence outside of ourselves to tell us that we can “feel” powerful, approved, comfortable, or in control. When that happens, we’re making it all about ourselves, we’re violating the Ultimate Success Principle. This is what holds us, our people and, ultimately, our organizations back. We’ve been created for a purpose, given gifts and talents to fulfill that purpose and work prepared in advance to do. Let’s step out in faith, feel what we feel, and do the right thing anyway. Then we can experience what it really means to be successful! hashtag#buildingsomethingspecial

The Secret of Great Cultures!

An Outward Focus –  “When the focus of everyone on the team is to assure the success of everyone else on the team.”  That’s the secret.

How Do You Know

I’m asked all the time, “How you can tell if someone is operating with an Outward Focus?”  I say look at their “fruit”. What kind of “fruit” are they producing?” Good fruit = Outward Focus.  Bad fruit = Inward Focus.

“Good Fruit”

What’s “good fruit”?  They’re a pleasure to be around.  They bring good energy to every interaction and leave others better off for having been with them.  They bring solutions to problems and take ownership. They keep their commitments by following through and treat everyone with respect.  They never speak ill of others and want to do their part to help others succeed. They go above and beyond and are willing to be inconvenienced for the greater good.  They have your back and will pick up the “ball” for you. They bring out their best so that others can be their best. They represent what it really means to be successful.  To live life in such a way as to assure the success, even in a small way, of every life you touch. They’re succeeding so they want everyone else to succeed.

“Bad Fruit”

What’s “bad fruit’?  They’re not so much fun to be around.  They take energy from every interaction and leave others drained for having been with them.  They only bring problems and expect someone else to provide and implement the solution. They don’t keep their commitments, don’t follow through and expect respect but don’t give respect.  They always speak ill of others (I hate gossip!) and don’t lift a finger to help. They do as little as they can and keep their priorities at all costs, before anyone or anything else. They’ll stab you in the back and make sure you drop the ball.  They are at their worst and they’re going to make sure everyone knows it. They represent what it really means to be a failure. To live life in such a way as to cause chaos and destruction in every life they touch. They’re suffering so they want everyone else to suffer.

You Can’t Hide It

I realize I’m writing with a very clear distinction between “good fruit” and “bad fruit” here.  That’s the insidiousness of it. Trying to do the right things for others while driven by an inward focus i.e. a motivation to serve self, doesn’t work.  It may appear to contribute but it really doesn’t. We as leaders have seen this time and time again. The person appears to do the right thing. They say the right thing.  They even have the “right” look! But every time their name comes up something’s not right. There’s another problem or another issue or another mess someone else has to clean up.  No matter how much we try to rationalize or justify our or someone else’s behavior if you do the right thing for self-serving reasons IT JUST DOESN’T WORK!

An Analogy

I liken the motivation behind behavior as the “soil” into which everything is planted.  No matter what you plant: new initiatives, grand visions, core values, new benefits, exciting environments, etc.  If you plant it into the “bad” soil of an inward focus it won’t work. We need good soil. We all need to embrace an Outward Focus.  Imagine any organizational effort planted into the good soil of an Outward Focus. The potential is mind-blowing. Imagine if everyone on the team was committed to the success of their fellow teammates!  The speed, the magnitude, the agility of an organization driven by an Outward Focus would be incredible. And that’s what our world really needs today.

Our People

I believe every single person on the planet would love to find their “place” in the world.  I also believe that they would love to work in an environment where they embrace an Outward Focus and develop the quiet confidence to handle the challenges they face.  To know that work is the one place they can count on to risk their best because others won’t let them fail. To know that when they pour into others it comes back tenfold.  To live a life of meaning and purpose, turning challenges into opportunities and being a part of building something special. I believe that’s what everyone, every single person, wants.

Our Leadership

So why do people embrace an inward focus?  Lots of reasons: that’s how they were taught, they don’t know a better way, in the past, leaders have rewarded that motivation.  All of this, however, as far as I’m concerned, is a mask for one thing: fear. They’re afraid and they believe they have to protect themselves.  I get it. It seems only right and it’s absolutely wrong. We are to “love our neighbors”. How can you do that if your primary motivation is to serve yourself?  There has to be a better way…and there is! We leaders have to lead the way!

This is what we leaders are accountable for.  To believe in others before they believe in themselves.  It’s simple. It’s not easy. What it means is believing in the best someone can be and holding them accountable to that.  It means separating your belief in them from their behavior. Good and bad behavior each have their rewards and consequences but that can never impact our belief in them.  If we hired them we’re at least 51% responsible for their success. What we’re telling them is that we believe in them and, as we do that for each member of our team, it breaks down the walls of doubt and fear.  It shows our team a whole new way to think. A whole new way to believe. A whole new way to succeed. An inward focus brings out our worst. An Outward Focus brings out our best. And that is what we are here to do:  To bring out our collective best and model what it really means to succeed!

The Work Around The Work

I believe that if you are able to work, we all rise because of that work. Work is a tremendous opportunity to put ourselves in the position of being a value to others. And that’s why we’re here: to serve others first. It’s also a dedicated formal vehicle where how we do our work is as valuable as the work we do. What do I mean? Well, let’s say your work is making hamburgers at a restaurant. The work is making the hamburger. What’s the work around the work? It could be a lot of things. How well you make the hamburger. How clean you keep your work area. How well you treat the customer, your teammates, and your boss. The great attitude you can bring to the job. All of these elements represent the work around the work.

How do we set our hearts and minds on doing the work and the work around the work? It comes down to what we perceive we’re a part of. If we’re just making hamburgers that’s one thing. If we’re helping feed a family before an important occasion or helping a business person grab a quick meal or helping someone celebrate a special day then that is something completely different. The work is the work and that’s important. But the work around the work? That’s where can do something really special!