It’s THEIR Purpose, Not Yours that Counts

Burning the Midnight OilYou know the feeling…you’ve burned the midnight oil, hit the deadlines, and received the kudos from all involved.  You love what you do, nearly every aspect of it.  You’ve found your ideal role in your ideal organization.  You have arrived!!!  When you’ve found that, you don’t mind the late nights and the extra efforts.  You’re IN THE ZONE!

What?  What do you mean, I must be talking to someone else?  Surely you’re there…you love your job.  In fact, it’s more than just a job, it’s a calling, right?  Nope, that doesn’t sound right either?  Well, what’s wrong, for Heaven’s sake?

Employee_EngagementWell, according to Gallup, only about 20% of us truly operate in that career nirvana.  That’s one in five, people.  Yikes!  Just thinking about it saps one’s enthusiasm and optimism about the world around us, doesn’t it?

The truth is many organizations preach the “engagement sermon.”  Far fewer match their actions to their words.  Too often, I’ve heard leaders complain that despite everything they do to engage their workers, it’s just never enough.  And quite honestly, they are right!

Yep, they’re right alright.  It’s never enough…it truly is never enough OF THE RIGHT THINGS!  Leaders are often quick to throw their hands in the air in frustration.

“But we gave them jeans days!  We let them check their Facebook!  We pay them more than our competitors!”  Yes, you did, and guess what?  It’s not enough.

applesYou see, in most cases, leaders are focusing on finding ‘easy fixes,” policies, benefits, and programs that are more about short-term satisfaction than long-term engagement.  Throw another benefit at them…host another Town Hall Meeting.  That’ll do it…..NOT!

Whenever I hear a leader griping about all their engagement efforts going to naught, I ask them to “Tell me about the dreams, passions, and aspirations of your team.”

The response is usually, “Well, Bob’s really good at….blah, blah, blah.”  Or “Sarah’s got great leadership potential…..blah, blah, blah.”

I don’t care.  I really don’t, and I tell them that.  You see, it makes no difference what Bob’s competency is at a particular tasks, nor Sarah’s potential.  She could have the makings of the world’s most proficient boss, but if it’s not where she finds pure passion, it makes no difference at all.  Bob’s the best data analyst you’ve ever seen?  So what, if he really doesn’t get excited diving into the data!

motivation1Daniel Pink says that the key to motivation is purpose.  But it’s not the purpose that you as a leader see or can convince others to embrace.  It’s the purpose the individual finds for himself in the work he does.  THAT is what breeds sustained engagement.

So, Step 1….you’ve got to KNOW your employees wants, and to what they dream and aspire.  And Step 2, you’ve got to be willing to do everything in your power to get them to those dream positions (within your team or elsewhere).  Until you do that, you’ll never have a team truly excited and passionate about working with you and your organization.  You’ll forever be stuck in a necessary environment of mediocrity, because mediocre efforts are all people can sustain where true passion lacks.

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