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Secrets of Success

Bring Your Brain To Work

A fellow was walking near a highway and noticed two municipal workers standing in the median strip with shovels.

The first worker would take three steps, stop, then dig a hole. The second worker would come along behind the first one and fill the hole.

This went on for at least a half hour. Totally confused, the man asked the workers what they were doing.

“Well,” the first worker replied, “Manny, Joe, and I plant trees. I dig the hole, Joe plants the trees, and Manny fills ’em up.”

“But Joe’s sick today…”

A funny story perhaps but how many people feel like the people they work with seem to come to work without their brain?

Why is it that those we work around often seem so disengaged in the tasks at hand?

Why do so many people simply go through the motions?

Why does anyone showing initiative or creativity seem so unusual?

What’s in it for me?

Those familiar with the film “Field of Dreams” may recall a scene at the end of the movie. The main character, Ray Kinsella, has created a baseball field in the middle of his cornfield. The ghosts of great baseball players come to play each day, but the living are not allowed to step foot on the field. Ray learns from the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson that someone will be allowed onto the field but that someone will not be him.

Kinsella is livid: “I did it all. I listened to the voices, I did what they told me, and not once did I ask what’s in it for me.”

Shoeless Joe Jackson then asks. “What are you saying, Ray?”

Ray Kinsella’s response: “I’m saying what’s in it for me?”

Perhaps that’s the problem. Perhaps most people come to work each day with no idea why they should show initiative because they don’t know how their efforts will benefit them.

(You may be thinking. “What ever happened to a work ethic!?!” “There are plenty of unemployed people who would be grateful for your job!” Please don’t go that route. You may just need to sit down, take a deep breath and try to figure out why you’re so angry.)

What’s the answer?

The answer I would suggest lies in Ray Kinsella’s question.

Do you want the people you work with to think a little harder about the tasks at hand?

Then let them know what’s in it for them.

Do you want the people you work with to bring the full complement of their intellect and talents to the office?

Then find out what makes them tick.

A few years ago a client asked me to poll numbers of their employees to see what motivated them on the job.

Their wants ranged from more opportunity, input and time to autonomy, money and recognition.

If you would like to find out what makes your workforce tick, here is one way to go about it:

Start with the least powerful people in your organization. Ask them to suggest one thing the organization could do to improve and to request one thing you could do for them.

You’ll be surprised that many of their requests can be easily met and that many of their suggestions and ideas are quite insightful.

Next, take some of their suggestions and act on them.

You’ll likely experience an increase in punctuality and a willingness to help.

There is, it seems, a direct correlation between involvement, commitment and initiative.

Because many organizations continue to struggle they need every brain in the building ganging up on problems and creating solutions.

The last thing the world of work needs is more people like Manny and his friend.

Involving your employees and showing appreciation can assure the next time a “hole is dug” a “tree will also be planted.”

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CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488