A happy employee is a motivated employee, right? What if you're wrong about that? A new book by Leadership IQ CEO and founder Mark Murphy explores that question. Companies across the nation are collectively spending billions of dollars trying to satisfy and engage their employees in order to get greater performance. And yet, 72 percent of employees admit they're still not giving their best effort at work.
In "Hundred Percenters: Challenge Your Employees to Give it Their All, and They'll Give you Even More," Murphy reveals new research from more than 500,000 employees and leaders about why the "happy employee" philosophy has failed. Culled from the same research, he introduces new techniques to stop making people happy and start making them great. He describes a leadership style intended to inspire employees to give 100 percent of their effort and passion every day (i.e. to become Hundred-Percenters).
Murphy says if you talked to the employees responsible for today's most recognizable innovations (the iPod, the Amazon Kindle, Google, the Human Genome Project, etc), you likely wouldn't hear, "I was inspired by a boss who coddles me and always makes me happy." Instead, he says you'd probably hear, "My boss challenges me, pushes me past my limits, and teaches me to aim higher than I ever thought possible."
Murphy contends that most workplaces are brimming with untapped talent. Only it's suppressed by goal-setting that discourages big ideas, and leaders who focus on happiness rather than greatness. People become Hundred-Percenters, he explains, not because they had it easy, but because a leader cared enough to push them to new heights.
Here are a few of the main ideas presented in "Hundred-Percenters":
- More than 70 percent of employees would rather work for a leader that challenges them with difficult goals and requires them to learn new skills.
- If leaders assign really difficult goals, employees perform better and have more self-confidence.
- "Smart" goals can be dumb, and actually keep employees from pushing themselves and developing new skills.
- Many leaders unknowingly discourage employees from becoming Hundred-Percenters through insufficient recognition and tolerating slackers.
- Hundred-Percenters want a lot of constructive feedback, but you should never deliver it with a "compliment sandwich."
- If you're going to assess your employees with a survey, never ask if they're satisfied (and never use a five-point scale).
- You cannot build an organization of Hundred-Percenters if you tolerate "talented terrors" (people with 100 percent skills but 0 percent attitude).