Capturing The Hearts Of Others

Are you inspiring commitment or buying time?

A while ago, CNN asked me to appear on TV for a short interview. They wanted me to talk about how to overcome negativity in the workplace. It was great! I love to talk about that subject.

In essence, I said the best organizations capture their employees’ hearts. They know that when they do that, everyone gives their very best, and world-class excellence almost automatically follows. It’s that simple.

Unfortunately, all too many companies fail to understand the importance of capturing their employees’ hearts. Instead of making an emotional connection with their people, they try to buy their people’s time. And that’s okay — up to a point. After all, time and energy are up for sale. That’s what a paycheck is all about.

But if you want to be among the very best in your industry, you’ll never get there by focusing on the purchase of people’s time and energy. You have to inspire their commitment. And that takes a very different “approach” — because you CANNOT buy people’s hearts.

Of course, I often spend a half or full day on that “approach” when I deliver my program on “Staying Up In A Down World: 8 Keys To A Positive Work Environment.” In fact you might want me speak on that topic at your next meeting.

But let me give you a couple things you can do to start the process of capturing your employees’ hearts. Do these things, and you’ll get your people “on board.” They’ll be more committed to give their very best. And you will be creating a more positive work environment.

=> 1. Create An Emotionally Exciting Vision.

Numbers don’t cut it. As Motorola says, the cry of “Shareholder equity! Rah! Rah! Rah!” just doesn’t get you out of bed in the morning. But a compelling vision does!”

One way you can do that is to help your employees visualize greatness. Service Master talks about “Honoring God in all we do.” That’s quite a vision. And one of my clients, Tastefully Simple, continues to be one of the fastest growing companies in America — year after year — despite the economy or any other challenges — because they help their people “see” what they can become. And you know very well that it’s exciting to work with a company that cares enough, indeed dares enough, to have such a vision of greatness.

=> 2. Build People Up.

The famous folk hero, Will Rogers said, “In all your life, you will never find a method more effective in getting through to another person than to make that person feel important.” In other words, find some things that are deserving of praise. Find some processes, behaviors, and results that you like, and then let your coworkers know how much you appreciate those things.

And don’t assume that your coworkers know your feelings. Too many managers think, “No news is good news.” No, it’s not! Or they’ll tell their employees, “If I don’t say anything, you can assume everything is okay.” No, they won’t.

Employees complain about that kind of thinking and behavior all the time. In fact, the number one employee complaint is that you can do a hundred things right and not hear a darn thing about it. So you’ve got to build your people up, and you do that by TELLING them what you like.

Take a look at where you spend your time and energy. Do you spend more of your energy building people up or tearing them down? Your answer could make all the difference in your work environment.

This is the way one person put it.

“I watched them tearing a building down, a gang of men in a busy town. With a ho-heave-ho and a lusty yell they swung a beam and the sidewall fell.

I asked the foreman, “Are those men skilled, and the men you’d hire if you had to build?” He gave a laugh, said “No, indeed; just common labor is all I need. I can easily wreck in a day or two what builders have taken a year to do.”

I thought to myself as I went by way, “Which of these roles have I tried to play? Am I a builder who works with care, measuring life by the rule and square? Am I shaping my deeds to a well-made plan, patiently doing the best I can? Or am I a wrecker, who walks the town content with the labor of tearing down?”

=> 3. Help Your Employees Keep Their Balance.

Employees are under incredible pressure to get results on and off the job. But the best companies, the ones that capture their employees’ hearts find creative, low cost ways to help their employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. They give their people all the training they need so they get great results on the job, but they also provide some tools so no one gets too stressed out.

You could start by making this work-life balance thing “official.” The Marriott Corporation was one of the first large companies to create a Department of Work and Family Life. And I know forward-thinking managers at 3M who order their employees to get out of the office, go home, and spend some time with their spouse and kids.

The John Nuveen Company goes even further. They pay the college tuition of their employees’ if the employee has more than five years of service with the company. What a marvelous retention device! As CEO Richard Franks says, “If we take away the worry of paying for college, employees will contribute more and be more productive.” He’s right. Their employees are more than inspired to give their best and stay on the payroll.

You could help your employees donate to charity. After all, most employees don’t have a lot of extra money, and they don’t have time to knock on doors for charity. Yet, most people care. They just don’t know what they can do to make a difference. At McCormick, they open their plant one Saturday each year for what’s called “Charity Day.” Employees voluntarily work their normal shift, and McCormick donates double their daily wages to a charity of the employees’ choice. It’s a win-win for everyone.

=> 4. Have Fun.

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 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.

I challenge you to loosen up. Use your creativity. Break up the monotony. And have some fun.

In today’s work world — where competition and change are major issues — vision, importance, balance, and fun are some of the ways you can win with your workforce.

Action:  Give your coworkers a little survey. Ask them to rate, on a scale from 1 to 10, how important it is to them: 1) that the organization has an exciting vision, 2) that they are made to feel important at work, 3) that the organization helps them maintain a healthy work-life balance, and 4) that their work is fun.

Then ask them how well each of those needs is being met. Their answers should give you a fairly clear idea as to what changes need to be made.