A FEW YEARS AGO, Simon Sinek explained a framework he called Why-How-What. He was drawing a distinction between the way we usually market to customers, and a much more effective method of capturing the emotion and inspiration first.

I have a link to his TED talk at the end; it’s quite good.

I’ve noticed that the same process works remarkably well with engaging and inspiring employees.

Usually, we start with describing a worker’s tasks and responsibilities. That’s a necessary element, I suppose, but it leads them to the trap of thinking that WHY they’re doing that job is simply to get the paycheck.

Very transactional. Uninspired. And if the other company will pay me marginally better, then it’s a good deal to switch employers.

Sinek’s approach is much more powerful:

  1. WHY: What is this company really about? Why does the particular team exist?
  2. HOW: How is this team’s contribution necessary, even critical, to the success of the organization? What is the culture that we choose for how we work together?
  3. WHAT: What does the team deliver, and what does the individual deliver? What are the key tasks?

When you build up the narrative in this way, your employees – and prospective employees – can get inspired by the larger purpose behind their assignments. It becomes much more about team results and organizational goals.

And they’re much more likely to bring their enthusiasm, ingenuity, and engagement to their work.

That’s win-win-win for everybody.

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