I Quit But Didn't Tell You

Most people initially begin their work tenures as engaged employees. They come to work, wanting to give 110 percent. They’re passionate about what they’re doing and want to become a significant part of the organization. But effectively selecting engaged employees is necessary but not sufficient to achieve Passionate Performance. Even the most engaged employee can have his passion for work diffused if his leader doesn’t know how to ignite Passionate Performance.


Our world of work is largely influenced by our direct leader. If I work in a crummy place but my boss is terrific, then I feel good about work and give everything I have to my team. On the contrary, I might work for a world-class organization, but my boss is not so hot. As hard as I might try, it becomes very difficult for me to give 110% to the team. Bottom line - we all work for people not companies… and employees generally leave people, not companies.

As a leader, the challenge is that an employee departure is only the most visible, and final phase of disengagement. It’s a gradual process. It’s more like a dimmer switch than an on – off switch” that regulates our engagement. The danger in this gradual process is the interim phases –the ones I call “I quit but forgot to tell you”. It’s there where disengagement is a silent killer… a cancer that is multiplying under the skin of your team.

The landmark Gallup study estimated the annual cost of disengaged employees was $300 billion… that’s billion with a ‘B’! As this survey, and others, have found most employees are not engaged at work. Their bodies may show up every day, but their minds and hearts are not. If Passionate Performance ignites the light for your team to follow, disengaged team members can create a slippery slope toward the dark side.

Think of the last time you had to deal with a wait person who made it crystal clear they had more important things to do than serve you. How did you get this impression? Possibly because it took forever for them to come to take your order…even longer for them to bring your food. In the meantime, you were in need of a drink refill and, after looking around for a moment, discovered your wait person has vanished into thin air…or to the back room or outside for a smoke.

Finishing your meal without anything to drink, you waited for the check until you had to leave and, making your way to the hostess station, pleaded for your tab so you could get to your next appointment.

If you’ve remembered a similar situation, you probably didn’t have to think much farther back than last week.

That’s where our challenge as leaders comes in. The minute…the very second we see an engaged employee teetering on the brink of becoming disengaged, that’s the time we need to act…not tomorrow or the next day, but right then. Look for a relationship that is disintegrating. We might not see a particular team member around the office as much, their once enthusiastic spirit disappears and the only time they will talk is when you call a meeting. In fact, that once vibrant relationship diminishes to the point that neither party is getting their needs met.

When an employee’s needs are met, they will be motivated to help those who meet their needs. When their needs are not met, they become frustrated, out of control, unfocused and disconnected – in a word, disengaged.

We all have these basic human needs and they have remained the same, in spite of the tornadic changes of today’s business environment. Yes, times have changed, our world has changed and the ways we do business have changed, but people have not.

To become a more engaging leader, make it a priority to get to know your employees. By knowing who they are, as peoples, you can better fulfill their needs to keep them fully engaged. If you can see your employees as people, you can identify six basic needs – three emotional and three intellectual.

Intellectual (Mind) Needs Emotional (Heart) Needs

* Achievement * Purpose

* Intimacy * Autonomy

* Mastery * Appreciation

As you study these needs, you’ll see they are also interdependent. For example, to engage the hearts of your employees, you’ll need to fulfill all three of the emotional needs…and the same is true to engage their minds – you’ll need to fulfill all of their intellectual needs.

Therefore, achieving Passionate Performance is a two-sided challenge: emotional and intellectual. To be successful, you must be able to engage the hearts and the minds of your employees.

By encouraging Passionate Performance, you’ll find the heart and mind must work together. Engaged minds build employee performance and engaged hearts ignite their passion.

Here’s to conquering your competition with Passionate Performance!


Lee J. Colan, Ph.D. is President of The L Group, Inc. (www.theLgroup.com). Lee is a leadership advisor, energizing speaker and author of 10 rapid-read books designed for an information-rich, time-poor world. His best seller is Sticking to It: The Art of Adherence. Register for Lee's popular and practical e-newsltter at www.theLgroup.com or call 972-250-9989.

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