One factor to being a successful leader is to find ways to inspire your employees to aspire to be great. Every employee has aspects of their job that they would love to change. They are those aspects that bring your employees down, drain them of their energy, and de-motivate them to give their full effort. On the other hand they also have aspects of their job that motivate them, make them want to give 100 percent, and keep them coming back day after day. Your job as a leader is to uncover these aspects that we like to call “Shoves and Tugs” and use them to help your employees aspire greatness.
Shoves are those aspects that shove your employees out the door day after day. They may start small, but begin to build and eventually can drive an employee to quit. Tugs are the aspects that are tugging at your employee to stay with your company. Shoves and Tugs are not opposites and you definitely cannot fix a Shove with a Tug. No matter how many things are tugging at an employee to stay, if there is one aspect of their job that they absolutely cannot take any longer, they will quit. So your solution is not to add more incentives to make up for the bad, but rather to uncover the things that are pushing your employees buttons and nip them in the bud before it is too late.
Each employee is different so there may be similar Tugs and Shoves, but there is going to be an even bigger variety of different Tugs and Shoves. The best way to discover these issues is to, at least once a quarter, hold one-on-one conversations with your employees over coffee or lunch. Ask them two specific questions:
“Tell me about a time you felt de-motivated, annoyed, or thought about quitting.”
“Tell me about a time you felt motivated or inspired to give 100 percent.”
There are 4 levels of conversation you will run into. The first is the Superficial Level where the employee will tell you everything is fine and they can’t think of anything that has bothered them about their job. This is a lie and most likely the employee just doesn’t feel comfortable telling you their issues. A way to deal with this is to change the subject of the conversation to a third person point of view. Ask them what they think other employees like and dislike about their jobs. Your employee will feel more comfortable telling you about other employees’ issues, which are most likely the issues they are having themselves.
The second level is the Suspicious Level where the employee wants to know why you are asking. They are most likely afraid to reveal to many issues because they think their job is in jeopardy. In this situation just be honest and explain to your employee what it is you are doing and that you’re only trying to help them achieve their full potential.
The third level is the Involved Level. This is where your employee doesn’t give you any recommended solutions. They are most likely just looking from some commitment from you. They want to know how far you will go to fix the situation and to know you are actually serious about finding a solution. In this situation you need to come up with a solution and ask for their input.
The last level is the Committed Level and this is the level you can only hope to reach. This is where the employee will give you a full description of their Shoves and tell you exactly what you should do to fix the problems. This makes you job easy.
During these conversations don’t try to defend any Shoves because that will just encourage your employees to stop sharing their issues with you. Just sit back and listen and then do your best to eliminate or at least neutralize any and all Shoves. Unaddressed Shoves don’t get forgotten, they only get worse.
Always start with addressing the Shoves. Like we said before Tugs don’t cancel out Shoves. Before you can inspire your employees to give more you have to at least neutralize the things that make them give less. With that being said, you still need to implement Tugs. After the de-motivators are taken care of, then you can go to work on increasing the motivators that your employees shared with you. Once you have maximized the Tugs, and minimized the Shoves, only then will your employees give you 100 percent.