The Adaptive Agency

Deep Reasons Employees Don’t Give Their Best (3/3)

by | Jul 30, 2022

What I’m going to share today is the biggest advantage a company can have. It’s tectonic. It will take you from a good business to an amazing business.

Most businesses will never get this. If you do, you’ll win hands down. Here it is:

Great talent needs to have emotional skin in the game.

“Matt, what the heck does that even mean?”

It’s the need Great Talent has to spend their efforts on something worthwhile. Not just for the money. For the fulfillment, satisfaction, and pride. Those are all feelings. That’s what compels them to give their best.

People who are emotionally connected to what they do will change your company in ways you will never expect. They’ll do it because it makes them feel empowered. They’ll do it because you let go of the reins and trusted them. They’ll do it because they want to feel good about themselves and their results.

This is so important because payroll is your biggest investment. But if you treat it like a cost it will act like a cost.

Want to help your best talent establish emotional skin in the game?

Try these steps:

  1. Give them something to believe in. You need an honest and compelling purpose and values. “Making more money” won’t cut it.
  2. Make sure they understand what you’re trying to accomplish and how they contribute to it. (See my last email.)
  3. Give them freedom to apply their hearts and minds, not just their time and labor.
  4. Get them out from under supervisors who want to control them.
  5. Show appreciation and acknowledge them for helping elevate the game.
  6. Make it safe and rewarding to take risks.

I’ve been doing this for a decade, and the results have compounded over time. I think I’m one of the happiest, most fulfilled people I know, and the money has taken care of itself.

These days, most of my interaction with my direct reports and others in the organization is me saying, “Yes, please,” and, “Thank you.” It’s because they’re out doing amazing things without me dictating what, when, or how.

I never have to micromanage, I don’t have to think for other people, and I spend my time working on vision, strategy, and important relationships.

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