Motivate or eliminate? Don't waste time trying to change unmotivated employeesArticle added by Winn Claybaugh on January 18, 2010
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Winn Claybaugh

Joined: August 21, 2010

The people in your workplace most likely fall into three different categories: visionaries, fence-sitters, and resisters.

Visionaries are people who've caught the company's vision -- they make things happen. For them, it's not just about the paycheck. They never have that "it's not-my-job" attitude. They respect all job descriptions, protocols, and company standards. They do whatever it takes to make sure the company is profitable, the team is happy and healthy, and their participation is for the good of everyone. Their attitude is, "What's in it for us today?" We love these people. Don't get confused into thinking that a visionary must be a person in upper management, or someone who's been with the company for a long time. You can be brand-new, be the lowest paid person, and still be a visionary.

Fence-sitters are people who, on any given day and with any given project, could go either way. Some days they're for you, some days they're against you. As a business owner, I sometimes stand at the door watching my staff members arrive and think to myself, I wonder which way that person will go today. Fence-sitters easily succumb to human emotions. Their loyalty and commitment are tied to their mood that day, or to some other arbitrary scale. If their second moon is rising over Jupiter, then they love working for the company. But when their Uranus is stuck and dragging out of bed that day, forget about it.

Resisters think it's their job to resist anything and everything. If you could look up their self-imagined job description, it would probably say, "Resist, resist, resist." You say "black," they say "white" ... just because. Resisters are very good at planting their insidious seeds of negativity. They'll be out having cocktails with other staff members, and while discussing the staff meeting held earlier that day, they'll say something like, "Wasn't that a great speech that so-and-so gave today? But did you hear about her marital problems?" They plant that negative seed, and then move on to the next project or person to resist and sabotage.

It's important to identify your visionaries, fence-sitters, and resisters so you'll know where to invest your energy and time. Unfortunately, in many companies and organizations, all the attention goes to the resisters (the squeaky wheel gets the grease), while the visionaries quietly work away, ignored and unappreciated.

Take heed: Ignore the resisters. Don't let them set your agenda. Without showing disrespect, avoid giving them your attention, your focus, or your energy. It's true that positive behavior will disappear if you ignore it, but so will negative behavior. And when I say disappear, I mean either the resisters will leave your company to move on to one that tolerates and condones their negativity, or their behavior will change. And by the way, if their behavior doesn't change, SW, SW, SW: Some will, some won't, so what.

Now, about those visionaries. Listen up. They need your praises, your hugs, your pats on the back, and your public displays of meaningful gratitude. They need you to put them on a pedestal and let everyone know that they make a difference in your world. Some business books may tell you not to play favorites at work, but I play favorites, big time. My favorites are the visionaries; they get all of me.

And what about those fence-sitters? If you properly take care of your visionaries, they'll recruit your fence-sitters for you. They'll sing your praises, promote your message, and support your mission to those skeptical fence-sitters.

One more thing. Which type are you: visionary, fence sitter, or resister?

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