Enthusiasm is defined as intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval. I suppose people can be committed without it. But that’s not much of a life!
Companies and organizations have been focused on culture for the past 50 years. Before that, nobody much cared. Show up, do your job or get fired. Don’t speak up. Don’t speak out. Just be on time, fall in line and do what you’re told. Even old dogs like me don’t remember those hard times.
Yet many of us have experienced working alongside people who didn’t have a commitment to do good work. Or even working for bosses who did nothing to foster it.
The times they are a-changin’ — and it’s great.
Any small to medium sized business owner who pays attention to a podcast and website called GROW GREAT is certainly not prone to leading with tyranny. I appreciate that about you. And I’m sure your employees do, too.
Every business owner and leader I know give some attention and lip service to “employee engagement.” It’s just a high falutin way of talking about how enthusiastic people are about showing up for work and doing the work. Commitment.
What we really want is enthusiastic commitment. We don’t just want dutiful, going through the motions producing the minimal performance.
“Enthusiasm spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.” – Norman Vincent Peale
Mr. Peale was right.
The other day an executive was telling me about some engagement challenges at his office. Speaking about a specific employee, a multi-year veteran of their company he lamented, “She’s on time and does a fairly decent job. But it’s like she’s just checking the box and doing whatever she needs to do to keep that box checked.” I asked him how long that had been going on. “For a good long while,” he said. “Why didn’t you talk with her when it first started?” I asked. He didn’t know. It just didn’t happen. Life happened. How here he was who-knows-how-much-later and she’s having a negative impact he thinks on co-workers. He’s wondering what to do.
This story is commonplace. Commitment, enthusiasm give way. When the erosion begins, we either don’t notice or by the time we do notice it’s been happening a while. And rather than sit down to find out what’s going on, and what we may be able to do to help – as leaders – we can hide. Hoping it’ll resolve itself. It hardly ever does!
Here’s what I know works – get to know people. Find out what’s going on with them. Not in an intrusive way, but in a caring, compassionate way. Fully professional. And heavily craved by employees. Especially those who really want to excel.
A culture of commitment begins with your commitment to your employees. As the owner, you must demonstrate how committed you are to help your people succeed. If that commitment isn’t there, then all bets are off. You won’t likely build or improve your culture. Honestly, you don’t deserve a high performing culture until or unless you first commit.
Be enthusiastic. It’ll drive your performance and help you lead your people to achieve more than they may have thought possible.
“Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
On the practical front, make time to sit down with every employee. But if you’ve got one or more employees who once had higher enthusiasm and commitment, but you’ve seen it slip, then make them a priority. Don’t drag them in and rail on them. Talk with them honestly. Express your concerns and observations. This isn’t a “let me tell you how it has to be” confrontation. Instead, make it a discussion of care and concern. You want to know what you can do to help them retrieve the enthusiasm and commitment they once displayed. Reinforce your desire and commitment to help them. Their success is yours. Let them know it’s important.
For many employees, that alone can do the trick. Some (check that, most) people need to know somebody cares. Somebody is paying attention to their contribution.
I know you may crave some complex, sophisticated strategy, but I don’t have it. That crap doesn’t work. Human communication does. Be human. Don’t be harpy. Be kind. Helpful.
Be interested in your employees. Find out more about their lives. They’ll share. You just have to create the environment where they know it’s safe. It may take time, depending on how you’ve behaved in the past. Which tells you all you need to know – YOU are the biggest driver to create a culture of commitment.
“None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.” – Henry David Thoreau
Ask your employees how you can help each of them achieve higher performance. Make their success as workers, and people, a priority. Do that and you’ll find they grow their own enthusiasm and commitment to make your company great.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!
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