Mostly I have written about the kind of person who thrives on more responsibility and ownership, who really loves the challenges of striving to give their best with the safety and security of a steady pay check in your company. I have offered practices to support that by creating an environment where people thrive at work, where employees are supported with coaching and resources to give their best efforts, and driven home the point that when you do all that, productivity goes up and the business is very profitable.  

But what about the other folks that just want to do their job, go home, and collect a paycheck. More than a few people have asked me recently about what to do with the person who just wants to put in his or her eigth hours and go home. Some people call them clock punchers. That’s all they care about; they just want to do their job and go home.  What about the mitigation tech being paid $14 an hour who just wants to do his job sucking water, check the readings, pack up the machines, and go home?  Or, the carpenters on rebuild? Or the admin employee who answers phones and does filing and documentation work, but when the day is over… it’s over.  How do we grab their attention to keep them focused, motivated, and encouraged to take ownership of things that all too often slip through the cracks and end up on your plate?             

It’s one thing to have upper and middle managers who are highly motivated, and paid well both in salary and bonus compensation. But the tendency is that we focus on taking care of the middle and upper management personnel better then the lowest hourly rate employees. Because of falling into the habit of that model of thinking, we unknowingly create a problem. So what can we do with these people? How do we deal with the divide between people who just want to put in their time and others who are really committed and are willing to give 110%?

A wise man said…” you can’t solve the problem at the level of the problem.” In order to have an impact on the people who just want to do their job and go home, we need to look at what’s happening around them. What might be already there that’s driving the behaviors and results you’re getting in the business today? Of course middle managers, senior managers, and key employees are more motivated. They have more freedom and more access to see what’s happening as a whole in the business, which contributes to a feeling of greater ownership, accountability, and contribution. But we can’t offer that kind of an environment and support to an hourly employee….or can we?

From a purely financial stand point, it seems were pretty locked in. Hourly employees have the skills they have, that’s the job, and that’s what it pays. We define their job description, and we ask them to simply follow it. That’s the way it is, and that’s the way it’s always been.

From another POV, there is the idea of working as a whole, as a team. Who decides which one of these is more prevalent in your business? That would be you.  Which way the pendulum swings in your business is up to you. Your business culture is the defining factor here. It’s your business culture that determines the behavior of employees, but it’s you who determines the ingredients of that culture.

Too many companies ride with the status quo of however their business culture evolved from their early years of business, then suffer the effects of that. It usually looks like a business owner who had the strength of will to get something started on his own, and that very same strength of personality unknowingly shapes the whole business culture for many years to come. If that sounds familiar, then you probably are someone who even now is struggling with how to bridge the difference between employees who are really motivated and the ones that do just the minimum to get by.  

Me vs. We

Do you have a ME culture, or do you have a WE culture. “We” cultures think in terms of team, have a can-do spirit, take ownership and pride in what they do, and are two to three times more productive than me cultures. That productivity turns into profits for the company. “We” cultures offer coaching, training, and career development pathways for all employees building leadership at all levels of the business. All levels mean even the hourly rate employees. Are there practical, cost-effective ways to do that? Absolutely! Effective and successful companies find ways to develop people in a career path, offering leadership development at all levels. Building leaders at all levels makes life easier for middle, upper managers, and owners.


"Me" Culture

"We" Culture

Focus on:
- Job descriptions
- Employee manuals
- Job procedures

Focus on:
- Accountabilities and reporting to strengthen ownership.
- Challenging metrics that drive future growth.
- Meetings that inspire and motivate.

- Cover their butt.
- Do what they're told.
- Being risk-averse.

- Impeccable integrity
- Being coachable
- Continuous learning

- People simply putting in their time on the clock.
- Lack of leadership, inspiration, and motivation.
- Lack of growth and profitability.

- People who love their job and give 110%.
- Breakthroughs in productivity and performance.
- A business producing game-changing results.

Transitioning to a “We” Culture

Be brutally straight about where your business is right now, and the culture you have created. Commit to begin making improvements and take actions to support your new vision. Don’t stop. With leadership committed to continuous improvements you’re now on the path to an even more successful business.