For those of us that are at the gym regularly throughout the year, the swell of members in January is a dreaded thought. Personally, if those new members stick to their New Year’s resolution and continue working out beyond that initial push, the two month inconvenience from increased members is worth it to me. I’m happy to see someone change their life for the better and if I have to endure an overcrowded gym as a result, so be it. However, as we all know, the vast majority of new members will drop off by mid-February. So what does this have to do with your workforce? Let’s explore some fundamental factors that may provide insight into how you can transform your organization to promote sustainable results.
With gym resolutions, there is a renewed sense of commitment and excitement. Unfortunately this often fizzles out over time as does many workplace initiatives. They start out with change, a new direction and renewed sense of purpose, only to see progress revert back to the previous status quo. Over time, people stop showing up to the gym. The good news is that with a business, if your workforce wants to get paid, they will show up daily. This means that you have the opportunity each day to help them become the best that they can professionally be.
Often, a struggling company will bring in new leadership to drive change, a message of hope, endurance and commitment. This new leader is the workforce’s personal trainer. This leader may motivate, challenge, and help you push the workforce towards its personal best. However, in the gym, why do people continue to use personal trainers once they know all of the exercise routines? Presumably, the individual should be able to carry out the agenda once they understand what they are to do. The unfortunate truth is that many people hang on to trainers for accountability and motivation. Accountability and motivation are better positioned as intrinsic attributes that come from within as opposed to relying on another party. Motivation and accountability are two areas that should remain in the workplace on multiple levels externally but internal motivation and accountability should supersede these external forces. If not, a worker will be at the mercy of another person’s motivational prowess and will be guided by a moral and ethical compass not of their own. This is often how corruption can reach such massive scales in a poorly run organization.
Driving Workforce Optimization
Let’s agree for a moment that motivation and personal accountability should be intrinsic values. How then do we lead our workforce to achieve these internal values at a higher level? First we must ask to essential questions: 1) Why would someone truly hold themselves accountable for their professional work? 2) How does someone remain motivated professionally?
Many solutions have been proposed to address these two areas of opportunity; bonus programs, employee appreciation, recognition, promotion, raises, perks, etc. All of these areas in and of themselves are not bad ideas but they often to not achieve the full potential or desired result. Why? These programs are usually bolted onto an existing culture which doesn’t foster an atmosphere of motivation or accountability.
If my job was to shovel manure all day, receiving a bonus for extra shoveling may improve my work, but I am still not excited to get up each morning and shovel manure. However, if I knew that through my work, I and my team contributed to increasing the number of healthy crops grown annually which enabled hungry children to eat that year, I would have a renewed sense of purpose. Now when I shoveled manure every day, I know whom I am benefiting with my hard work. A bonus program would support that purpose by earning me more money while I served the greater good. This may be a crappy example (pun intended) but hopefully it will start to raise questions on how your company impacts its customers, partners, community, etc.
If a person is hired to manufacture rotors, they could spend their day focused solely on reaching their daily quota. However, if that employee views their contribution as a major contributing factor to reducing automobile accidents by superior braking, a renewed sense of motivation and accountability sets in. Performing their job well saves lives.
Leaders are responsible to identify the overall value that the company delivers to help foster internal motivation and accountability. Teams often get excited when they are working on an innovative or new project. However, not all aspects of business are continuously bursting with excitement. Not to mention, excitement fades. If everyone was excited all of the time, it would be weird. Purpose can fill the void where excitement fades. Excitement in bursts is great, but often workforce programs are reliant upon excitement for results. Excitement is not sustainable, purpose is.
When a leader understands the organization’s purpose on a macro level, they can scale back into executive team, departmental and individual purpose. Purpose, when properly tapped, can be a driving factor in sustained workforce performance. When purpose is supplemented with incentives, recognition, opportunity and perks, results can exceed expectations. I’ve often read articles on attracting millennials to your workforce and they are almost always filled with the worker wanting a sense of purpose. I suggest that this drive isn’t solely limited to the millennial demographic but to all workers.
In the business of consulting, my motivation and accountability stem from wanting to improve the lives of business owners and their workforce. If I am successful in my job, countless people benefit. Should profit increase coincide for a job well done? Of course.
The monetary increase allows us to fulfill the motivation and accountability we feel towards our families in our personal lives. Be it money or time off, a job well done on a professional level allows me to provide for my family on a personal level. As a result, my professional accountability and motivation help fulfill my personal accountability and motivation to provide for my family.
An organizational system that provides a clear sense of purpose can help fulfill your employee’s professional and personal sense of accountability and motivation. An employee that knows the impact of their work and professional purpose coupled with programs to promote hard work will drive increased results. Increased results will free up capital for the organization for raises, increased vacation, bonus, promotions, etc. This helps the employee fulfill their motivation and accountability for providing for their family and/or spending increased time with their family.
A career that offers professional and personal satisfaction courts loyalty, productivity, innovation and higher employee retention.
To the leaders: train your employees, set the system (routine) up for success and then get out of their way and give them room to work.
To the workforce: reflect on why you do what you do and find the impact of your work. Discover your purpose and drive towards greatness. Some days may be a struggle but when you look back in hindsight, you’ll note that over time you turned that keg into a 6pack.
Author: Rob Comeau, CEO of Business Resource Center, Inc.