Are you buying their time or capturing their hearts today

You can buy people’s time. It’s up for sale. Employees agree to work or perform a task if you pay them a certain amount of money.

However, that’s a very short-sighted approach to motivation and leadership. That’s throwing an awful lot of money, creativity and productivity out the window because you’re not tapping into those employees’ hearts.

Great leaders (and even parents) know that. They know when they capture people’s hearts, the results are off-the-charts better.

So how can you capture the hearts of people you’re leading, or working with, or even living with? Of course, that would take at least a book and a seminar to answer the question in depth, but here are a few things you can do for starters.




► 1. Take a climate assessment.


In other words, is your workplace positive or negative? Does it attract or repel people? Does it turn people on or turn people off?

As I tell my audiences, when all the barriers are removed, watch which way the people run.


A few years ago, the former Secretary of Education, Dr. William Bennett, was asked a question by a 7th grader. He asked, “How can you tell a good country from a bad one?” Bennett replied, “I apply the ‘gate’ test. When the gates of a country are open, watch which way the people run. Do they run into the country or out of the country?”

I thought it was an excellent question that got an excellent response. And I think the same question could be applied to your organization. If your people were exposed to other job opportunities and if all other things were equal, would they stay with you or would they leave you?

The answer will tell you if you’ve got a positive or negative work environment. The answer will tell you if you’re just buying their time or capturing their hearts.

► 2. Recognize the cost of not capturing their hearts.


Positive work environments are important because negative work environments drive your best people away. And it costs 1½ to 2 times a person’s yearly salary to replace an employee and get a new person up to speed. In other words, you have to pay for such things as advertising, recruitment, background checks, interviews, orientation, and training when good people flee your “gates.”

And there are some hidden costs in the loss of intellectual capital when an experienced person leaves and mistakes are made by the new inexperienced person. There’s the disruption of teamwork and a variety of service problems — all of which can lead to lost customers. Quite simply, you can’t afford to have a work environment where you are simply buying people’s time instead of capturing their hearts.

The good news is you’re not stuck if your work environment needs some extra umph. It can be changed. I know. I do that all the time in organizations where I speak. That’s why one of my more popular programs is The Power of Partnership: 7 Keys to Better Relationships and Greater Teamwork.

In fact, David G. Lewis wrote to tell me: “My wife came home this evening and couldn’t wait to tell me about your seminar. She thought you were AWESOME and gave you fives all across the board. Now you’d have to know my wife to know that fives all across the board means that next to the 2nd coming of Christ you’re the next best thing! Heck, she doesn’t even give me fives across the board.”

To capture more of people’s hearts, you could…

► 3. Put a greater emphasis on well days


Only 50% of those who call in sick are actually sick — physically sick. They’re just sick of work or have “more important things to do.”

Part of the problem may be the fact that many organizations reward negative sickness while they punish positive health. In other words, people actually get paid for not working.

Now hold on a minute. Before you get all hot, bothered, and angry at me, I’m NOT suggesting that companies remove sick days. I’m not suggesting we go back to the days of worker abuse. Not at all.

I’m simply saying that it might make sense to put a greater emphasis on wellness. An organization might reward people for perfect attendance over a period of time. They could put all the “winners’ names” into a drawing for a bigger prize. It would make things a bit fairer for those people who never get sick and never get to use their sick days.

Or give your employees the privilege of using a “sick day” as a “call-in-well day.” The employee could call in and say, “I’d love to come to work today, but I’m feeling so mighty good that I’m calling in well. I won’t be there, but I’ll see you tomorrow, brighter and fresher than ever.”

Or try this.

► 4. Encourage fun.


As a speaker in hundreds of organizations over the years, I listen carefully to what people are talking about. I’ve noticed that one of the most common complaints has not changed one bit in twenty-five years. The complaint is, “The fun is gone. What happened to the way things used to be at work?”

That tells me you can capture people’s hearts by making sure they’re having more fun as they work. That’s not exactly rocket science but still HUGELY important and powerful stuff to know and practice.

No one ever said work couldn’t be fun or shouldn’t be fun. Quite the opposite. There’s lots of evidence that highly successful organizations are also fun organizations.

So do some things — just for the fun of it. Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, is the self-proclaimed “Master of Joy.” His mission is “the relentless pursuit of joy in the workplace.” Whether it’s a “Clash Dressing Day” or a “Third Shift Italian Meal and Music Event,” they’re determined to have fun and make money at Ben and Jerry’s. It’s not a bad combination.