What Do Your Employees Want In Life?

Michael Dermer

How you take care of your employees tells more about your company and you as a leader than anything. Commitment to your people helps drive their commitment to the vision and creates ambassadors for your company, so when you or your company is criticized, they will defend you.

On the contrary, treating your people like fungible assets that can be replaced at any time will have negative effects:

  • When one thing goes bad, 10 things will go bad
  • When an obstacle occurs, they will blame others
  • When you provide constructive criticism, they will look for a job
  • When you or your company is criticized, they will pile on

The real question is, “How do you truly engage your people so that they are not only productive, but deliver at a level which far exceeds your expectations?” And how do you do it so they are fulfilled and excited about what they do with their lives?” I think the answer will surprise you.

Find Out What They Want in Life
Don’t ask yourself, “How do I get the most out of our people?” Instead ask, “How do I get our people what they want most in life?” Not what they want in their business life but in their personal life. Here’s what I did at my company. I told everyone the following:

“I want to help you unlock your potential as a person. Not your potential as an employee. Not your potential as an employee. I want to understand what you want in your life. Then it is my job to help you realize that and see if it can align to what IncentOne needs. My belief is if we help you realize what you want, then working here is a good thing.”

At first, everyone was taken aback. Was I serious? I asked for one-on-one meetings with about 100 employees we had at that time. I asked them, “What do you want in life?” Each and every one of them rattled off something related to their work. I stopped them and said, “I don’t want to know what you want in your IncentOne life. I want to know what you want in your personal life. Do you want to run a marathon? Do you want to learn a language?”… Everyone started to share the things they wanted to achieve in their personal life. Things like sing opera, learn how to cook, eat better, etc.

Now it is your job to help them achieve it. If it’s opera, do an opera event. If it’s learning how to cook, give him or her a cooking lesson. Connect people to things they want to achieve. The customer service representative who wanted to sing opera is now one of most respected client services managers running some of our most complex health clients—and boy can she belt out a tune.

The perspective of most entrepreneurs is that they expect their people to work hard. Some entrepreneurs expect their people to work constantly. However, what are you giving back in return that keeps them engaged and motivated?

So the best way to unlock the potential of employees is to help them achieve what they want in life. When this happened, they began driving forward at work. The more we showed employees that IncentOne was a way to help them in their lives, the more we unlocked their potential.

They wanted to know how they could learn more about the product? They wanted to sit in on sales meetings and learn about the sales process. They were engaged and motivated to see our company succeed because they felt my commitment to having fulfilled employees not just at work but in their personal life.

Michael Dermer is the founder/author of The Lonely Entrepreneur, a methodology to help entrepreneurs with the struggle. He discovered this methodology when the company he built for a decade – the first to provide rewards for healthy behavior – was nearly destroyed by the 2008 financial crisis. He not only overcame this to become an industry pioneer, but discovered this methodology to help entrepreneurs with the struggle and is now a professional speaker, consultant, and coach for startup businesses and entrepreneurs.