One key job of a service business owner is to build a team and get the most effective work out of them as possible. They’re asked to show up on time, give 100 percent of their attention to their job, and do the work asked of them. In exchange, they receive job security, pay, and benefits.

In a perfect world, that exchange would work perfectly, but we don’t live in a perfect world. The truth is, sometimes, it’s hard to build a team that seems motivated to work hard. Sometimes employees don’t show up on time, give 100 percent effort, or fulfill their responsibilities.

What options are available? Of course, a manager could get angry and threaten to fire a lacking employee. And, certainly, that may be necessary if the employee is consistently underperforming. However, service business owners are looking for more tools to help them get the most out of their employees without having to resort to the threats.


One of the best ways to inspire employees is to use the power of “Why.”

What is Why?

Why is a question. We ask Why when seeking reasoning, when we want answers, and when we want the back story or the behind-the-scenes explanation.

Employees have a Why for the job they have with their employers. They didn’t just apply for the job because they were bored — they applied because they had a reason, a cause, a behind-the-scenes reason that motivated them to find a job.


Employees’ Why may not be what an owner thinks it is. It’s easy to think that people work for a company because they need money but that is only partially true. They need money, but once they have the money, they’re not hoarding it in a big pile — they’re spending it on something.

What are they spending their money on? The two most valuable resources anyone has are time and money. But those resources are never kept; they’re always spent. To figure out what an employee’s Why is, one only needs to look at where that individual spends his or her time and money when he or she’s not working. That will provide the fastest answer.

If a manager looked at three employees only as employees who were working for money, he or she might not be able to figure out how to inspire them. However, if I tell that supervisor how they spend their money and time, he will get a very clear idea of their Why. Perhaps an employee spends all of his or her money and time on his or her young children. Perhaps another employee spends all of his or her money and time playing golf on the weekends. And yet another spends significant time volunteering at local food banks.


Once a team leader learns the Why of each employee, he or she can then truly inspire employees to give their focus and attention to working more effectively. Management no longer has to stress the importance of job retention; instead, team leaders can connect with employees and get them excited about the things that inspire them, and then draw the connection between their good performance at work and how that gives them the money and the time to enjoy whatever their Why is.

So, if one’s stuck wondering how to get more out of employees and seeking ways to motivate them to step up and work hard while they’re at work, start by getting to know them better and learning what their real Why is.

Publication date: 8/22/2016 

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