In my studies of what drives individuals, specifically the workplace, I have embraced several ideas that do not always fit within mainstream thinking.
One example is that performance reviews do not, in general, create positive outcome. After conducting hundreds as well as reading thousands of reviews, I do not recall any that were defining and positive. Negative outcomes? There are too many to count. These reviews usually triggered a “you do not understand” response. Whatever the hope was at the time, the opposite emerged. Positive outcomes? I have never seen them start from the time and content of a review.
Another is a still emerging view on what motivates individuals to stay. I agree with the broad thinking that money is rarely top of the list. Other aspects, starting with one’s boss are often far more important! In my working list of the stay with the job drivers, two items stand out. First, the individual is respected. In multiple ways, the company, management, and peers foster a culture and set of behaviors that respect individuals. The dimensions of respect include soliciting and valuing their opinion, working to give them a work-life balance (without making them feel guilty), and creating room for opportunities to emerge. If one wants engaged loyal employees, start with respect.
A second aspect is a sense of belonging. In many companies it is left to an individual to decide if s/he belongs. A blunt assessment of the corporate signals suggest that many neglect this aspect or do not intentionally act. It is as if the opportunity to work and the compensation are all that it takes. In hard economic times it works, at least for a time. In every situation, when people feel that they belong, behavior, motivation, and contribution all become more positive.
Life likes to remind me that respect and belonging are drivers for more than just work. David’s excitement reflects the universal truth that shapes you and me; “My choice is you, God, first and only. And now I find I’m your choice!” (Psalm 16.5)
We belong. It feels good.