Unlocking Your Super Employee

Before you read this article, take a moment to look around your office, shop, or factory. Are you seeing superstars everywhere? Are each of your employees engaged in their work and meeting their potential?

The answer is most likely that only about 30% of your employees are actively engaged. That’s the average. About an equal amount are actively disengaged and probably looking for work. Your company may vary, but these are the averages for North America and probably reflect the majority of the readers’ workplaces here.

This is certainly not the way I want to run my business. I want my people to be happy and to work extra hard for me. When looking into this, I found that there are really only two things that will transform a disengaged employee into a Super Employee.

Your Super Employee is unlocked by giving them the one thing they want most and providing a path for personal, internal motivation. So what do they really want and what does internal motivation actually mean?

And for three easy installments of a million dollars, I will tell you the secret to unlocking your super employees. Nah, I kid, it’s all yours for free, because I love you all.

What do employees really want

What People Ask For

If you were to ask a whole bunch of people what they wanted from their jobs, most likely, we would probably think “more money” would be the number one answer. Turns out, that’s not the case. When researchers posed this question to something like 20,000 people, the answer was not what was expected. It wasn’t more money, more vacation, less work, or an espresso maker in the lounge.

It was respect.

Think about that! You’ve got people working for you who just want be respected and will work even harder once they have it. Do your employees feel respected?

Now, I know there are a bunch of you old-school thinkers out there asking questions like, “why should I care about employees’ feelings, work is work?” and “we’re all grown-ups, why do I need to deal with this?”

Science, that’s why!

Well, science and profits, really. And making the world a better place.

Why it works

Employees who are engaged with their work are 22% more productive. Imagine your business if 70% of employees were producing a fifth more work than they are right now. What does that mean in terms of dollars and cents. You do the math. It’s okay, I will wait.

In my article, How Not to Burn Your Money, I talked about the costs of turnover. Well, here is a way to keep that rate down, even as rates are expected to rise as high as 65%.

Are you still trying to get that competitive edge in your market? Companies with engaged employees are going to have the edge, every time. More than technology. More than processes. More than an expensive CEO. It’s your employees who are going to make you great.

What does it mean for employees to feel engaged at their place of work. Well, it means they feel like their contribution matters, that what they have to say is taken into consideration, that they can own their part of the job. So much more than the money, these things will drive your people to do their best to make you money. It’s not a substitution for paying higher wages, but it will go a long way to keeping your best people around.

How do we go about this?

The Secret Sauce


There’s a trap set for those who have an authority role or some sort of power. In order to get there, one must have the belief and confidence in his or her decisions. No matter what, that self-assuredness is necessary to drive forward in the wake of uncertainty. That’s how we get to that position of power in the first place. However, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in that confidence and start to believe that you have all the answers.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents said that “leaders dismissing ideas without exploring these ideas” is the second biggest reason why people won’t take initiative.

Having power means you’re less likely to listen to your employees, according to this study. If this is the case, what fresh ideas are being lost because they are from a junior or new employee? Are you also ignoring your seasoned staff? It’s pretty easy to do. I mean, you got the company to where it is. You’re in charge and you know what you’re doing. But if you’re a business guy with an expertise in economics who can barely work Word, why would you not listen to your programmers about the best way to build your software. If you’re the project manager, but have never poured concrete in your life, why would you overrule your construction or concrete expert?

There is two-fold value in ensuring that you and your supervisors learn to listen to your subordinates. The first is, of course, gaining better insight into way to improve operations. The other is that buy-in from your people. When their superiors listen seriously, they buy into their jobs. They become more engaged.

“…employees become volunteers, now, only after they’ve been inspired them to bring their passion, energy, solutions, patience…initiative, leadership to the day.
Employees arrive on time and leave on time.
Volunteers arrive early, leave late.”

Money Doesn’t Motivate

Okay, that’s not entirely true.

What is true is that money does not motivate nearly as much as we think it does. The survey makes that clear to us. It’s an external motivation that only works as a short term solution. Bonuses or even raises will work for a little while, but the effect is fleeting. Now you’re probably wondering what does motivate people. What’s the secret to getting people to want to be there and work harder for you.

The trick is understanding how people are motivated. As it turns out, it’s internal motivation to which people respond most. We need to be in something for ourselves, to feel that meaningful accomplishment for our labour.

Here’s a short list of things that motivate people. Think about it, is this really different from yourself? If you’re an entrepreneur, did you pick this path because it was the most lucrative. Maybe, but how many of these things are on your list of reasons why.

  • Achievement
  • Accomplishment
  • Competition
  • Meaning
  • Pride

While not everybody wants to be an entrepreneur, or even management, just about everybody needs to feel useful; not just a cog in a machine. Even the folks who work on an assembly line need to feel like they are part of the family and critical to the operation. They want the pride in their work, too.

It may be a bit of a challenge to find what drives each person. According to Entrepreneur.com and Inc.com, the best way to figure this out is to ask them! Not just once, ask them consistently. People’s needs change. One month it may be feeling like they are the leading performer, the next may be a bonus to pay for their kids’ braces.

Daily needs change, but the core needs do not.

The Core Needs

There are four core needs to be fulfilled. They are;

  • Renewal (physical),
  • Value (emotional),
  • Focus (mental), and
  • Purpose (spiritual).


When we create an environment that allows people to flourish and feel like they are an integral part of the company, we can start to address their core needs. The most remarkable result is how quickly this turns into increased productivity. It’s almost magic.

The graph below shows the net change in an employee’s performance as each core need is met.

Employee Needs chart

The results

Most employees are just not engaged in their work and that’s unfortunate, because they spend so much time there. But that does not have to be the case. We have the information and the tools to motivate our employees and get them to be actively engaged their work.

Everybody wins when we listen to the what our people have to say and when we develop strategies to trigger their internal motivations.

Tell me what you are doing to motivate your people. What strategies are you employing to get them onboard and to meet their core needs?

Also, if this is resonating with you, but you don’t know where to start, hit me up and we can discuss ways to get you going.