20/20 recently shared some extreme acts of quitting. Some are quite creative, highly entertaining — but definite career-killers. With employee engagement declining and the job market improving we may start to see more of these extreme acts of resignation. Do not try this at work ; ).
It’s not about money.
In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, best-selling author Dan Pink reveals the 3 key principles that drive motivation – Mastery, Autonomy, and Purpose. The need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. In a interview with Harvard Business Review, Pink says ”As for recognition, the diaries revealed that it does indeed motivate workers and lift their moods. So managers should celebrate progress, even the incremental sort”. HBR adds, “recognition is a form of feedback which is essential to achieving mastery”.
If you have not seen this video by RSA Animate using Pink’s popular TED Talk, you need to. Pink provides an undeniable case based on extensive research and studies including the work of Mihalyi Czentsmihaly on flow.
Do you work with people who have mastered an area, skill or characteristic? If so, let them know with a public kudos and acknowledge their mastery and professional reputation on Linkedin and online.
What motivates us?
In his popular TED Talk (see the full video below) behavioral economist Dan Ariely recently discussed not only why we work, but what kind of behavior and environments increase productivity and help people thrive in the workplace.
Ariely points out that there are examples all around us that show people are motivated by things beyond a paycheck, crossing a finish line or meeting a goal:
- Mountain climbers face enormous challenges and setbacks on the way to climbing to the top of the mountain.
- An employee worked on a project day and night for over 2 weeks when it was cancelled the day before the due date, leaving the worker, who said he felt quite happy while working on the project, feeling depressed when he realized that no one would see his work.
We want to receive recognition for the “fruits of our labor”, says Ariely, and know that our work has meaning. He conducted two experiments to explore this notion.
In a study using Legos, two groups of people were paid to build multiple Lego kits. In one group, the completed pieces would be disassembled at the end of the experiment; in the second, each person saw their first creation taken apart as they built a second.
Outside observers predicted that the first group – where their work had been acknowledged – would build more Lego kits, but thought the difference would be negligible.
- In fact, the group whose work was valued showed over 63% more productivity compared to the group whose work was disregarded.
This dynamic is at play in the working world. At one company, 200 workers spent two years working on a project that was suddenly shut down. The employees reported feeling depressed and unmotivated and their behavior at work changed. They started:
- Showing up for work later
- Leaving work earlier
- Possibly ‘fudging’ expense report items
When asked what could have made them feel that their work efforts were not wasted and drive employee engagement, they suggested:
- Internal presentation of the project to the company
- Analyze what aspects of their project could be incorporated into other aspects of the company
In Ariely’s “Shredder” experiment, people were asked to complete a written puzzle, and then each paper was placed in one of three groups, where 1) someone looked at it quickly, uttered a quick “Uh-huh” and put it on a pile; 2) no one looked at the paper and it went into in a pile; or 3) the papers went directly into a shredder.
There’s good news and bad news coming out of this “Shredder” study:
- Ignoring people’s performance is almost as bad as shredding their effort in front of them, but
- Minimal recognition can dramatically improve a worker’s motivation
The act of recognition provides acknowledgement and is the best source of motivation . You don’t have to sit around and wait for this to happen, you can kick start a culture of recognition by starting with a simple thanks to a co-worker.
As the baby boomers to hit retirement age, they will be replaced by “Generation Y” or “Millennials,” who number almost 80 million. This talented and diverse group of employees want to learn and grow with their company. Millennials are motivated by having a sense of accomplishment. As this infographic shows, 80% of Millennials prefer on the on the spot recognition and real-time feedback. You can now go online and instantly thank a co-worker with the new way to give kudos. Millennials are tech-savvy social media enthusiasts. You don’t have to friend them on Facebook or follow on Twitter, but at the minimum, connect with them on Linkedin and build out your own professional network of fresh talent.
Related Post and Infographic: Millennials are super-savers
Work.com/Salesforce just shared this stunning graphic on how to give recognition. At the bottom they list 5 common recognition mistakes. I would say the main and obvious one is not giving any recognition at all. Let us know about any others in the comment section below.
Looking for more tips on how to recognize employees effectively as well as other information on being a great leader in your organization? Subscribe to our Manager 2.0 Newsletter where we’ll bring you weekly updates on must-read articles from the web as well as best practices on leading your organization in the new era. Subscribe To Manager 2.0
What’s an “Altrupreneur”®?
Bernie Nagle has been a student of “engagement” in the workplace for nearly 40 years, primarily in manufacturing environments, either as an executive or as a consultant. He is also co-author of the book, Leveraging People and Profit: The Hard Work of Soft Management, where he coined the term “Altrupreneur”.
Nagle describes an “altrupreneur” as one who conducts the affairs of an enterprise with conspicuous regard for the welfare of others, builds communities that produce value for all the organization’s stakeholders. This new breed of leader responds to the needs of the organization and the demands of people coming to the workplace and marketplace. The manager who can balance the people and profit factors has the best chance of succeeding in tomorrow’s corporation.
MeritShare co-founder Travis Pearl first connected with Bernie on Linkedin and recently conducted this interview.
Tell us about yourself?
I have both experienced and observed the phenomenon of engagement as an employee, manager, senior executive, consultant, author, speaker, business owner, and facilitator.
I started consulting back in 1995, after 22 years in the Food Industry, when the company I worked for was acquired. At that time I was VP Manufacturing for a $2.0 bil. company, responsible for 7 plants Instead of moving to Europe with the acquiring company, I took the “package” and went to outplacement. It was at that point I decided to begin writing my book and go out on my own. After consulting and speaking on my own for a period of time, I was recruited by PriceWaterhouse Consulting and I worked for them until I was recruited by one of their clients to lead a global business process improvement initiative in 13 locations in 9 countries.
Break it down for us Bernie
My experience has taught me some simple truths about people in the workplace:
The vast majority of people are fundamentally good; they want to do a good job, improve and grow
Everyone is really good at something
The greatest motivator in the workplace is believing at the end of the day that what you did made a positive difference
People and Profit are not mutually exclusive business choices
Enlightened leaders know these truths intuitively and act accordingly, with integrity and respect.
Why did you start your consulting/training company – what is your mission?
My mission was then, and remains today, “Ubertas per Beneficium” (Abundance through Service). My goal is to establish a covenant mentality of mutual service in the workplace, through whatever means of evangelization is at my disposal. My most fervent wish is to get back to being able to support myself financially doing this work full-time as an independent operator or as part of a larger training/consulting firm.
Explain the meaning of “Altrupreneur” – how did you establish that term and what does it mean to you?
The word, Altrupreneur ®, is an improbable union of the words, “Altruistic” and “Entrepreneur”. An Altrupreneur ® is a transformational leader who understands a simple, underlying principle of human nature:
“Engagement, trust, loyalty, and followership, are inspired by the leader’s willingness to value and serve ‘the other’.”
I wanted to create a word that communicated a workable middle-ground meld of the attributes that make for a successful entrepreneur, as well as those of a genuine altruist. These were the traits I had observed in successful manager/leaders who had the ability to truly engage people in the workplace and elicit discretionary effort, innovation and enthusiasm. These special leaders had keen business sense and a nose for the bottom line, and at the same time, were people of high integrity, uncommon empathy, and genuine concern for the welfare of others. In other words, they held others in “high regard”; hence the frequent references to the creation of a “high regard” work environment.
If you had to provide three leadership principles around servant leadership, one sentence each, what would they be?
Leadership Principle #1 Leadership exists only through the voluntary gift of follower-ship
Leadership Principle #2 The gift of followership is given for their reasons, not yours
Leadership Principle #3 You can neither know nor engage their reasons unless by your actions you embody a spirit of humility, respect and service for others
Your website states that Altrupreneurs ‘create “virtually free” new sources of Competitive Advantage in a sustainable world, please explain?
The lack of engagement in the workforce has been demonstrated repeatedly in study after study. It is no longer an area of speculation, with some studies estimating as high as 70% to 80% of the workforce actively disengaged. This group falls into the “quit and stayed” category. It has been my contention, as I stated emphatically in my book nearly 20 years ago, “the greatest waste of assets in all organizations is the untapped creativity and innovative energy of an engaged workforce.” Your competitors may outspend you in every asset category, but they cannot buy, nor can they match the creativity and innovation of a team of energized workers. That enthusiasm and innovative energy cannot be forced it cannot be coerced and it cannot be bought…it must be led. People do things for THEIR reasons, not yours. The enlightened, servant leader is uniquely able to connect with the workforce where THEY are, with an interest in THEIR needs, and ignite that enthusiasm and innovative energy on behalf of the organization. This is the next frontier in sustainable competitive advantage.
What are the most important traits, attributes for Enlightened Leadership?
Regard/Respect for others
What companies do you admire the most?
There is a company (literally a few miles from where I live) I recently got to know, and had a chance to interview the president, Stuart Watson. The company is named Truline, and they make bearing housings for super high-tech applications, like aircraft fuel pumps. Stuart and the company owner have created a Servant Leadership culture as genuine as any I have ever witnessed in the last two decades. When I was researching my book, I had the privilege to speak to some of the giants of the Servant Leadership world, like Max DePree, Herb Kelleher and Art Wainwright, and I will tell you this company is no less impressive.
We thank Bernie for his time, insights and advice.
If you would like more information on Bernie, please visit his website Altrupreneur.com
In this first MeritShare article on employee engagement, we start from the beginning and look at how employee engagement is defined.
Wikipedia references the Scarlett Surveys definition and says: “Employee Engagement is a measurable degree of an employee’s positive or negative emotional attachment to their job, colleagues and organization that profoundly influences their willingness to learn and perform is at work”. This is significantly different than job satisfaction.
However, outside of Wikipedia there are divergent views on how to define employee engagement. My personal favorite is from Kevin Kruse at Forbes who says:
Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.
In order to represent the full spectrum of opinions on how to define employee engagement, I picked 10 thought-provoking articles. Let us know your thoughts below and if we missed any you think should be included or if you have your own definition in the comment section below.
JT wrote what I think is the best definition of employee 2engagement ever in the comments on People I’d Like to Hire: When they are there, they are there.
Our sustainability consulting challenges traditional definitions stakeholder engagement. The Forbes article, What is Employee Engagement breaks many of the traditional views of internal resource effectiveness.
Shuck and Wollard study the evolution of the term “employee engagement” across 140 papers and synthesize a possible consensus definition.
Defining Practical Employee Engagement The term Employee Engagement has been prolific over the past few years but what does it really mean? How can we use this.
Employee engagement is more than surveys and assessments – it’s about how team members experience their work environments.
As a student, I find myself frequently using Google to discover the true definition of these terms, and I have observed many of my classmates using the term “employee engagement” synonymously with employee happiness …
The definition of Employee Engagement: “a heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work”. That makes …
I know how *I* define employee engagement. But I think you already know that too. So, I asked you — the employee, the average joe, the thought leader, and the social strategist, an eclectic mix of professionals..
One of the biggest issues with employee engagement is that there seems to be as many definitions of engagement as there are people on the planet. In the absence of a standardized definition of engagement, it is absolutely …
In terms of a definition for employee engagement there are many, but I have typically used something close to the following: “An intimate emotional connection that an employee feels for the company they work for that propels …