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You know exactly why employee motivation matters. Productivity. Teamwork. Customer service.

But I run across a whole lot of people who don’t know how to build and nurture that innovation. They think it’s just a magic thing that some people have and some don’t.That’s why I was excited to read Why Managers Must Ask 5 Questions to Empower Employees, one of Gallup’s top 2018 reports. It’s practical and powerful.

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At some point, you reach the end of your knowledge and expertise. You’re feeling exposed and vulnerable.

Especially if you feel you have to be the expert in the room.

The simplest, most powerful way out of this problem is just to … admit it. Tell the others that you’re at the end of what you know and need help.

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You have the power to make things easier or harder for your customers.

And for your employees, partners and community as well.

We all seem to complain a lot about how busy we are, how difficult life is, and how we feel everything is so complicated. A lot of that is just that we love to out-do each other on complaining, but there’s also some basic truth to it.

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THE NEW YORK TIMES recently published an article called Hey Boss, You Don’t Want Your Employees to Meditate.

They pointed to a confusing study which seemed to indicate that meditation neither improved or reduced motivation on the job. I’m not sure if it’s solid or not, but to me it exemplified the wrong way of thinking about employee productivity.

And that thinking has been with us since the industrial revolution. We’re merely building on old myths. How so?

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YOU HAVE THE BIG CHANGE you’re trying to take your organization through. You’ve created the wonderful slides which explain why it’s necessary, how the org chart is changing, and even why life will be so wonderful after the change.

And then having all the employees actually change what they’re doing … it slows to a crawl. You even see instances of reverting back to the old patterns.

What the heck is going on?

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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.

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THERE SEEMS TO BE A HUGE DISCONNECT between how older people define “career” versus younger people.

This was well articulated by the author of 50 Ways to Get a Job, Dev Aujila. In a recent interview, he spoke of stability based jobs versus skill based jobs. He was speaking to job seekers, but business leaders have a lot to learn from this.

My parents grew up with the model that success looks like having one employer and one career for your entire working life. That model was already breaking down in the 1970s, and now it’s rarely effective.

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HOW OBVIOUS is your company’s mission?

Is it so compelling that customers can tell you what it is, in their own words?

Is it so clear that your employees are thinking about it in some way every day?

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WE’VE ALL CREATED lots of marketing messages. Our products will solve this problem. We’ll make your life better. We’ll treat you great.

Those are fine. Even powerful and compelling.

But how does this benefit your employees?

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THERE’S A LOT OF FAKENESS in the world.

I would imagine that it’s always been this way, I suppose, but now it’s so much more obvious when people aren’t showing their company authentically in the world.

And consumers are getting really quite sophisticated in detecting fake messages.

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