Motivating Employees. More Than Providing Direction

By DrScott – Posted on February 6, 2014 on www.compassphs.com

Fifth in the How to Switch On Your Employees Series

An employee from a remote office location stopped by the office of her President at the corporate headquarters. Unsure of the exact purpose for the visit, the CEO thanked her for stopping by and her years of loyal service. Once seated, he paused and asked “how can I help you today?”.

She looked at her hands folded in her lap and said, “Two years ago you announced that we were going to have to get our biometrics done, see our doctor, and get our cancer screening done to qualify for the best health plan. I was really angry. I am 28 years old, a single mother of two children, and frankly, I can barely get everything I need to do done and catch a few hours of sleep at night. To tell me I had to do more felt unfair. But I also could not afford to pay more for my health insurance, so I complied. At my exam the doctor found a breast lump and sent me for a mammogram. I then found out that I had stage one breast cancer. To make a long story short, it was a real hassle, but I got my treatment and the doctors say that I am now cured.”

She paused, obviously straining to maintain her composure. She looked at him directly and continued, “I can tell you that without you requiring me to get my screening I would have put it off another five years. The doctor told me that if I had waited even one more year my cancer would have spread and my chance of surviving would have been a lot less. So I came here today to tell you thank you. Thank you for caring enough to require me to do the right thing, even though it costs the company more money and you didn’t have to. Thank you for saving my life, and thank you for giving my kids their mom; they are still young and would have been alone if I had died.”

Surprised, the President expressed his appreciation at her stopping by to share her story and the great news that the doctor thought she was healed from her cancer. This was the second time in a month an employee had contacted him to thank him for helping discover early cancer.

Their health plan had gone from just another requirement, to a campaign to catch disease early, and to save employees lives. Employees were inspired, and morale was better than ever. They had even begun a program to support “Health Champions” who encourage and support their employees in taking the ‘Baby Steps’ to go from reactive to proactive lifestyles, and to create a culture of wellness.

Chip and Dan Heath in their book, Switch – How to Change Things When Change is Hard, point out the need for three major principles to be honored in order to promote successful change (see previous blogs). The rider must be directed, the elephant must be motivated, and the path must be clear.  In this instance, the company provided employees motivation to move down a different path to a new destination. The employees not only understood the task at hand, but also found the feeling that motivated them to change. The change had been broken into realistic small steps, and employees gained more knowledge and experience in proactive wellness. A new mindset was emerging. It had taken two years but success was no longer in question.

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