I’m a department manager with a medium-size company. My staff is about evenly divided between people who believe in the company mission and vision, and those who essentially just work for a paycheck. It seems like it’s easier for the “It’s just a job” crowd to drag down team morale than it is for the “This work means a lot to me” contingent to raise it. Any tips you can offer on bridging the gap would be greatly appreciated.
Your question, in a way, is the definition of leadership. The second law of thermodynamics states that order goes to disorder. The leadership equivalent is that organizational order goes to disorder. No matter how many people buy into the mission, at some point dissenters will arise.
The job of a leader is to be the vanguard of the corporate culture and to continually promote the mission in a meaningful way. If that is done properly, then people who are off track will either jump back on board or they will, justifiably, decide to seek other employment because they feel out of place. Here are a few ideas on how to minimize this perpetual leadership problem.
Market the mission. This is talked about in corporate
Do one-on-one management. Be aware that the “This means a lot to me” crowd is not responsible for the behavior of the “It’s just a job” crowd. That is your job. It certainly is nice when the team rallies, but that won’t happen without your direct intervention and, more importantly, your inspiration. It is important to meet with each member of your team one-on-one in order to openly discuss their commitment to the mission. It is wise to spend at least as much time “managing” attitudes as it is managing core competencies. If the team is mentally on board, the quality of work always improves because each individual’s desire to learn is increased.
Promote internal enthusiasm about the team mission. When members of the “This work means a lot to me” crowd share their enthusiasm, thank them for their commitment and recognize them publicly. The other members of the team will see that being mission-oriented is the culture and, even if they rebel at first, your commitment to the “mission culture” will cause the “It’s just a job” camp to reconsider their position. This will lead to either a healthy attrition or a newly inspired team member.
The real key to getting people behind a mission is working with people who are vocation-oriented rather than career- (or paycheck-) oriented. If workers see what they do as a means to grow in holiness and to serve God through their work, then you have the perfect storm. How to pull that off in a secular company is something worth discussing in a future column.
Catholic motivational speaker Dave Durand’s latest book is
Perpetual Motivation. He’s online at DaveDurand.com.