Motivation and satisfaction

5 steps to change employees thinking “From Paycheck to Paycheck”

The world is becoming more and more monetized these days. People have learned the art of looking busy at work while doing the minimum to survive to the time where they get their paycheck. In this world, newly created companies, sustain cultures of self-branding were not the most hardworking, but those who show more presence (mainly the extroverts) are future leaders. In this illusive world, leaders lose their most valuable team members while trying to answer the new reality rules.

Employees depend more and more from their paychecks and do “the necessary” to get them on time and then restart the process of waiting for the next paycheck to come. In cultures like that, we can see a small group of people working hard and another group of people “working smart”. But what comes at the end is that the group of high achieving people leaves the company, while the group of “smart working people” stays to find new ways to manipulate the system till the next paycheck comes.

This sad reality is the ground for all companies’ troubles with work, projects, quality of work, and even growth. But the ones who must break this model – the leadership team of the company – are often part of it and do not want to change. They like it because doing less and getting more while others struggle with workload also pays the leadership team paychecks. And this vicious circle continues again and again.

While growing with positions, even the hardest working people become somehow marginal leaders and good politicians, trying to establish the so good know model of “working less, but getting more”. Not so bad you will say, but it is a terrible thing. Using this approach makes leadership teams week, shortens possibilities, detaches the dedicated part of the employees from the company, causes loss of future profits, etc.

It becomes more and more important for the companies and leadership teams to keep the high achieving diamonds in their teams and deal with the political and not productive oriented staff. But to do that, leaders must sustain the politics of sustainable growth principles with no compromises in quality or quantity of work.

Here are 5 steps to help you as a leader to achieve that, without any painful interaction for you and your high achievers in the team.

Set clear rules for quantity and quality

What most people do not know is how much is enough and how good must it be to say that you have done something successfully. And that often causes individual planning on the final quantity of the work that must be done. The leader’s role here is to set the borders and keep them safe from change. It is the leader’s role to define the minimum, but also the maximum amount of work that must be finished and divide it between team members. Something else that is leaders’ job here is to set the quality standard. “Not less than” is a good start, but people need to know how their work will be measured from the minimum set expectations to the maximum set standard

Allow mistakes

Still, I see people frightened from doing something wrong. Fear is not a good option if the leader wants people to learn and become more self-dependent. To ensure that will happen, the leader must make space for people to make mistakes, learn to tolerate the mistakes, and give guidance and support when people need them to move forward. If the culture of the team does not allow people to make mistakes, then they stick to what is best known and do only what is expected as a minimum to deliver somehow satisfying results.

Allow flexibility and individual approach

People may fail, but they need to fail their way. Doing all the things they do, the way they feel that these things must be done, and focusing on their approach to the situation and the task. Giving the task of assigning the project does not give the leader the right to also assign the approach and the way the work must be done. This must be the employee’s choice. No matter how the leader sees it, if not getting to the end their way, most people often fail because they don’t trust the approach and do not engage themselves with the problem or the task to be solved. No matter the experience the leader has, everyone wants to make its road to success, with all the pain against along the way. If the leader does not allow people to put their approach into practice and make their way how they see it, he or she is doomed to see the same marginal results as always.

Praise willingness for achievements

What makes us proud as humans are our achievements. The most irrelevant approach to praise someone is his/her paycheck. Yes, people need the money and will appreciate what they get as an additional payment to what they have done for the leader and the company. But still, we are somehow selfish and need to be positioned above others. And there is nothing wrong with that. The way to satisfy this personal need is to give praise in front of others to the person or the people who have achieved the goal. This makes them proud and gives them the feeling of being winners. And this must be a tool in every leader’s arsenal if he or she wants to see people happy and more engaged.

Support memorable moments

While we win, we want to celebrate our victories. If the leader wants to ensure people will further have the will to achieve results he or she must allow and support the creation of small memorable moments. A simple celebration or a half-day off are some of the simplest ideas to achieve this. IF the leader wants to sustain engagement toward work challenges in the office, he or she must establish sets of perks according to the achievements and categorize them in levels. If people know what they are fighting for that makes them more focused and energized. Ensure people will know what they are fighting, struggling, and putting their energy for and then you will see amazing results.


The Paycheck we all get every month is the employer’s way to say, “Thank you for the efforts”. But people, or at least most of them need more than just a paycheck to achieve great results. The role of the leader in the process of building internal motivation and engagement and accountability toward the work challenges is crucial. The leader who sees opportunities where everyone else sees distractions, the leader who allows people to show their full potential and ensures a clear statement toward achievements is the one who will win every battle or challenge by counting on people’s strengths and energy. Want to be that kind of leader? – Well, it is up to you and your ability to allow other energies to synergy with your understandings.


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