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BY Joel Junker

Easy Motivation and Retention Tool for Leaders

“When you become a platoon leader, then company commander and so on, get to know your soldiers.  Write down their wives’ names and children’s names on note cards.  Ask your soldiers what’s happening in their lives.  Know your soldiers.”  This is the advice I received over and over again in ROTC training as a cadet and again in my time in the Army.  What I was really being told is, “Take time to really get to know the people who work for you.  Go beyond just names and dates to dreams, goals, strengths and weaknesses.  Celebrate successes with them, empathize in failure, and be supportive during challenging personal times.”

Patrick Lenciono, author of several books to include my personal favorite Five Dysfunctions of a Team, wrote a column on this for the October 5, 2009 issue of BusinessWeek.  You can read the article at http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_40/b4149084766472.htm.

What I took away from the article is that the people you lead, have the same basic needs as you.  They, as you, want to be recognized as a person first and then a member, employee, manager, soldier, sailor or airman.  Work is much more than pay and benefits.  Work is where your team members, and you, go every day to find meaning and professional fulfilment and to make contributions.  To create an environment with meaning and fulfillment doesn’t require fancy incentive programs, granting time off or awards.  In Lencion’s words, “A manager’s genuine interest in employees’ lives pays off at every level, in every job.”  The title of the article says it all, “A No-Cost Way to Motivate.”  I don’t need to write any more to explain, you can read the article and it says it all.