A recent Gallup poll announced that worldwide only about 13% of the workforce is engaged in the work they do. Engaged? As Gallup puts it: psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations. The US and Canada were at least at the top of the table with an engagement % of 29%. Of course, for the mathematicians amongst you, it is clear that 71% are not engaged!

So how do we change that? Do you feel your company is working in second gear instead of fourth or fifth? Are you frustrated, as a leader, just how much stuff is never completed? Here are 20 quick thoughts to consider that have worked for me, and continue to work, as I try to scale businesses and accelerate the pace of change:

Ideas to Change the Rhythm
  1. Give people tasks/projects to own. Tell them you want closure. They can come to you with problems but they must be wrapped with solutions – their solutions.
  2. Follow through relentlessly. Over time reduce the amount of time you give them to do a task. This will change the pace of movement.
  3. Encourage curiosity. Take sales professionals. Encourage them to own their slice of the market. Encourage an understanding of  trends, players, news, issues, and solutions you can bring to the party. Get them buzzed about their customers. Get them to own the sector and show them that insight builds businesses.
  4. Teach marketing professionals how to write stories. Teach them about writing stories that describe outcomes you can achieve for customers. A current Portfolio Partnership client transforms first responders’ ability to communicate with each other when time is precious and normal wireless technology is woefully inadequate. That’s outcome thinking.
  5. Build passion into your organization to rally people around a cause. You are the best in the world at X. You are either remarkable or invisible. Which is it to be? Your choice!
  6. Identify low energy people. Why does stuff not get done? Are they clear on the performance required of them? Are they in the wrong role? Do they need further training?
  7. Low energy people can be turned around and they have to be. The effect on other staff is easy to underestimate. The sales professional who misses targets, misses key metrics. The production engineer with the wrong attitude. The accountant who constantly takes a long lunch. All of the activities that deflate an organization need to be crushed.
  8. I find work rate a strange thing. Some people’s idea of an effective day at work is so different from your own. I often find incredibly effective people in organizations that just own projects and stuff happens. Not everyone can be that effective but you need to try to reach a minimum standard of effectiveness, or let them go.
  9. Teach people mastery. It’s a huge driver to motivation; way ahead of money. Let them become really good at their role. Set them up for success. Any investment in this area almost always has a mind-blowing ROI.
  10. Fear of failure is real. People become paralyzed by fear of failure. Allow people to fail in controlled environments. Allow them to point out the bumps in the road. Work through their roadblocks.
  11. Teach people how to zoom out and zoom in. It’s not just a CEO skill as highlighted by the compelling books by Jim Collins.
  12. Create a sense of fun wherever possible. Having fun and making money are symbiotic relationships. It’s rare to find a very successful miserable company.
  13. Make people proud of your company. Share successes. It’s not your success – it’s their success.
  14. The audience of your web site is as much about your own staff as it is about the market. The voice of the web site has the capacity to deflate or to motivate.
  15. When reviewing progress with an employee or a team, please focus on what has changed since you last met. It’s all about movement. It’s all about moving things forward in tiny increments.
  16. Following through on tasks allocated shouldn’t feel like micro-management. It should feel like you care.
  17. Treat yourself as a leader to creating a University. Build an appropriate process to train people. Teach accountabts about basic software skills. Teach developers about Price Earnings ratios, cash flows and market share. Scare them if necessary. It doesn’t have to be Pixar (who created a world class learning environment) but it does need to allow people to develop.
  18. Honor success publicly and discipline failure privately.
  19. Habits have three components: triggers, activity, reward. Make hard work a fun habit.
  20. All companies can find their mojo but it requires staff to be in the moment, to be in the flow. As Daniel Pink highlighted in Drive. People come to work for three things: mastery, autonomy and purpose. Give them all three and change the rhythm of your business.
Come to my next presentation at the amazing District Hall in Boston’s Innovation District.