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Start With Why And The Reward Will Naturally Follow

Posted on in Retention Strategy

I’m a huge fan of Simon Sinek. If you don’t follow him, I highly recommend you do. He has one of the top viewed Ted Talks on how great leaders create inspired action. The talk is an excerpt from his book Start With Why, which is one of the best books you can read as you think about building a team. At the risk of spoiling the Ted Talk or book, Sinek makes the powerful statement that “People Don’t Buy What You Do, They Buy Why You Do it.”  Let that simmer for a minute.

Think about this from the candidate or employee perspective.

If you were clear, and I mean crystal clear, on why your company does what it does, can you see how that powerful purpose would enable you to speak a different language that resonates with the right types of candidates and employees?  I would argue that it naturally attracts higher quality candidates that not only have the skills to do the job, but the right motivations to perform successfully in your culture because they believe in the cause. You create and foster a more engaged and productive workforce because they understand what “north” is and therefore can act and produce, not because they have to, but because they want to. And, as Sinek points out, the right motivations for people is a big enough reward in and of itself.

Sound too good to be true? I don’t think so.

Not only have I seen this firsthand with several clients, but the concept is backed by Sinek’s and other research which shows that regardless of the industry, workforce demographics, or geography in which people work, one of the top three rewards people are seeking at work is access to challenging and meaningful work. This should be easy!  Remember why you started your business in the first place and make sure that everyone on your team understands how their work helps support the mission. Delve into what is driving a prospective candidate to interview with your company. Take the time to ask your employees what their “why” for being on your team is. Reinforce it, recognize it, and you will naturally reward it.

For the skeptics, I get that this can be way too fluffy for you. So, before you write off this post, I am not so naïve as to think that having a killer purpose means you don’t need to meet other basic needs. Needs like making sure you have competitive pay, strong benefits, and other basic working conditions. That being said, think of a time when you were truly motivated…on a mission to build your company, tackle a physical challenge, or something else. Was that inspired action or did someone have to dangle a bonus, extra day off, or some other incentive to make you do it?  I’m willing to bet a deeper drive and purpose, not some material compensation, is what got you over that finish line.

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