What makes people want to come to work and do their best

The last three years have changed the working landscape of the last 3000 years. Three years ago it was difficult to imagine that much of the workforce could work from home. Today it’s difficult to imagine how to get a lot of that workforce back to their jobs, in person, on site, happy, and productive.

But that is what more and more employers are requiring. Last week’s headlines indicated a sharp drop in the number of companies posting or allowing virtual jobs. They want their present and future workforce to BE THERE.

In this Tuesday Tip, I’m not going to argue the pros and cons of stay-at-home work versus on-site work. There are many on each side. But if you’re a company or leader trying to nurture an on-site work culture or if you’re a person being “encouraged” to show up at work, this is what is working.

Three construction man in huddle


► 1. Capture the hearts of people.

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 a workplace where people want to come, want to stay, and do their very best, 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.

Read on.

► 2. 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. All of a sudden, an individual’s job takes on a lot more significance, even eternal significance.

IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer’s vision is to “Create a better everyday life for many people.” Almost everyone could feel good about their job if they knew that was the very purpose of their job.

Starbucks says their vision is “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” It’s no wonder that so many of their employees and customers consider their frequent sojourn to Starbucks as an almost holy adventure.

How emotionally exciting is your company’s vision? If it’s not exciting, change it. And then live it.

After all, everyone craves a clear, meaningful, motivating, direction-defining purpose in life. To the extent they can find a part of that purpose at or through their work, the better off everyone will be.

Indeed, I’ve found that the real champions in life have learned, mastered, and applied six practices to their personal and professional lives. One of those six practices is PURPOSE, and we’ll cover an entire session of my upcoming five-session master class on PURPOSE.

► 3. 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 making that person feel important.”

In other words, find some things that are deserving of praise. Find some processes and behaviors that your coworkers are using effectively or find some good results they are bringing about and then let your coworkers know how much you appreciate those things.

You can’t assume that your coworkers know your feelings. Too many managers think, “No news is good news.” No, it’s not! Silence is never interpreted as praise.

Other leaders tell their employees, “If I don’t say anything, you can assume everything is okay.” No, that’s not the way team members think or how they treat each other.

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 my 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?”

That simple little poem asks a profound question. Make sure you take the time to answer it.