Activating “The Want” in a Team Member
Updated: Feb 24
A few years back, I recognized a team member who had just conducted an outstandingly successful training course. The attendees not only responded with a robust round of applause for him but lined up to vigorously shake his hand as they exited the training room.
When the last appreciative attendee had left, I said to him, "Bill, I appreciate the choices you made to be here every day to prep and rehearse for this class, especially with your wife being sick and her needing your attention daily." Bill looked at me and said with a smile, "You haven't seen anything yet!"
As I returned to my office, I realized that I did not need to worry about Bill choosing not to work faster, harder, or smarter. He spoke and conducted himself like a motivated employee. The next morning was Bill's biannually stay interview. For those unfamiliar, a stay interview is
conducted to understand why employees choose to stay with a company or why they are considering leaving to join another company.
To begin Bill's stay interview, I invited his honest and constructive criticism. As a leader, I asked him what I could do to increase his likelihood of choosing to stick around for the next six months. His answer shocked and astonished me.
Bill stood up and said, "John, I will answer the question standing up, much the same way we conducted my job interview many years ago."
He began pacing the room like a lawyer addressing a jury and continued, "John, I will make this plain and simple for you - don't change one bit as a leader. Please continue treating people using the Golden Rule as your pillars of leadership!"
Not to toot my own horn, but this piqued my curiosity, so I asked if he could clarify what I should continue to do more specifically. He then pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket and began to read:
You let us know how we are doing every day!
You apologize when you make a mistake!
You don't act like the smartest person to walk into a room!
You get back to people when they offer you ideas!
You trust us to do our jobs!
You don't throw people under the bus when we make mistakes!
You genuinely believe that blaming is looking backward and preventing is looking forward!
You help us understand changes when we as employees don't directly benefit!
You confront slugs and slackers on the team…. a.k.a. poor performances!
You know that as you help us succeed, we will help you succeed!
You always find time to pay people compliments!
Before I could even digest what he'd just said, he opened my office door; before stepping out, he said, "I suspect this stay interview is over, so I would like to get back to the classroom now, because 'You haven't seen anything yet.'"
Bill is now retired, but his impact continues. I always bring up his comment, "You haven't seen anything yet!" when teaching today's current and future leaders that activating an employee's "want" to work faster, harder and smarter is not in the employee's fingers and feet. It is in the
heart and mind. You see, the leader with the most authentic connections and bonds with their employees keeps them motivated and makes it extremely difficult to be lured away by other companies or recruiters.