Quint's Column: Connect employees to purpose

  • March 14, 2018
  • /   Quint Studer
  • /   training-development
Quint Studer

Today's workforce wants more than just a job and a paycheck. 

They are OK with those things, of course, but employees are more productive and dedicated when they know what they are doing makes a difference.

This was evident at the recent Pace Awards sponsored by the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce. That just built on what I heard at the annual chamber event in Atmore, Ala. recognizing some special difference makers in their community. 

Each person, when accepting their award, shared more than the job they did to be recognized. It was about the purpose served. 

In Atmore, I heard about a man who spent his life's work helping children, another who helped save the local downtown theatre and the owners of Buster's, a local restaurant that closed for the night so all the staff could attend the ceremony. When the owner spoke, she introduced the chef as the person who has been feeding Atmore for generations. It was a very powerful talk that connected to the difference each person in the organization makes.

In Pensacola at the PACE Awards, each recipient revealed their "why." Doug Bates, the emerging leader, talked about the example his parents set of unconditional love and giving back. Ed Ranelli, the education leader of the year, discussed the impact of knowing UWF has touched hundreds of thousands of students. Janet Pilcher, the community advocate of the year, spoke about the work ethic her parents instilled in her and the impact of helping people become teachers. Gen. Michael Ferguson, the Pioneer Award winner, talked about what it means to have your life saved and the value of teamwork. John Hutchinson, the Spirit of Pensacola Award Winner, discussed never stopping one's work in making life better for others. Bill Wein, the Professional Leader of the Year, spoke about the gratification of building a team and creating jobs. Connie Bookman, the Community Service Leader of the Year, helps those who some may have given up on get a second chance and be productive members of society. Andrew Rothfeder, the Business Leader of the Year, shared how all profits from his company go to early brain development. 

A vital job of every leader is to take time to connect the dots on how each employee's work makes a difference. There is no such thing as a job that does not count. Each customer can play an important role in complimenting them on what they do. 

Whenever I go through security, I thank the TSA staff for their work on keeping people safe. 

Here are some tips for leaders to help build purpose:

— Explain to each worker how what they do impacts the customer and their co-workers. 

— Connect with customers by asking if there are any staffers they would like you to recognize and collect the "why." Being very specific means more to the staff and also reinforces that behavior.

— Ask more. People who provide direct customer service will get the most compliments, so when recognizing these folks, ask them who supports them that the customer does not see (think accountants, cooks, back of house employees).

— Share stories. When you are talking to customers you will hear stories. When people know you are sincere and care, they will share things staff may not hear. Make sure all employees hear those stories.

People remember the stories.

Being a leader is connecting the dots for staff who don't do the work because they have to, but because they want to.

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