Ensuring employee buy-in is just as important as ensuring client buy-in. Hans Bjordahl posts an insightful essay on the importance of employee motivation to any company's success.
June 27th, 2005 by Hans Bjordahl
What differentiates a company on the rise from one on the decline? Is it strategy? Technology? Capitalization? Marketing?
I submit it’s none of these things. I’ve worked at companies on the rise. I’ve worked at companies on the decline. I’ve worked at companies that have managed to do a full U-turn from one category to the other while I’ve worked there. And in my experience (and that of my talkative friends), there’s one thing about a company that is the single best indicator of its success:
Employees who have bought into the mission. Employees who feel they have some stake in the outcome. Employees who leap out of bed in the morning driven to help build something bigger than themselves. They will work hard, work smart and work together to take down almost any obstacle in their path. I’ve seen such teams pull out shocking wins in situations where no one initially gave them (well, us) a chance. And the when the growth inevitably follows, these employees call their smartest friends and demand they join the team. It’s a beautiful thing to behold.
Unmotivated employees, on the other hand, aren’t just an HR problem — they’re a fatal corporate disease. This is true regardless of whether the employees as a whole are “actively disgruntled” or just “not particularly excited” about the opportunity at hand. Such employees follow the path of least resistance, erect obstacles instead of surmount them, and don’t feel particularly vested in the success of the company or their particular project. What’s worse, this attitude is catching. Mediocrity is a virus, and fresh talent is usually showing symptoms within the first few months.
The difference between the contribution of a motivated employee and an unmotivated one? Nothing less than stunning. I’d say it’s 2x or even 3x. You think customers can’t tell the difference between the true believers and those who are just feigning interest? Oh they can. You bet they can.
What’s the moral of this story? If your team has a motivation problem drop everything — and I mean everything — and fix it. Fix it before it spreads. Fix it before it’s too late. And don’t fix it with easy aphorisms such as “people are our most important asset,” but with real, meaningful and quite possibly painful change. Can employees tell the difference? You bet they can.