Impulse 16. Doesn’t Everyone Want to Perform?

You all know people and employees who are always grumbling, constantly dissatisfied, and overall spreading a bad mood. The job performance of such people is generally middling or even sub-par.

Why is that?

It’s like this: I am convinced that every person wants to perform. Each and every one of us wants to contribute and be proud of this contribution.


So why are there nevertheless low performers?

Every person, as a child, used to draw and scribble and then run to the parents with a proud “Look mom! Look dad!” Every person wants to perform. Deep inside. That is our driving need. And what happens over the course of a lifetime? We grow up and look for a job. While signing the contract, certainly no one thinks to himself: “I’m just gonna phone in this job.” No, while signing that contract we’re thinking along the lines of “I want to participate. I want us to be successful, to work hand in hand, and to achieve great things together.”

If all goes well, then this is exactly what happens. The employee makes an engaged contribution. This contribution is then recognized and valued and all are satisfied: The employee, the colleagues, and the boss, and the company prospers. In this case, be happy as a leader and be glad to have found such a good and joyfully engaged employee.

Yet, when it goes badly, then this employee does not find any joy in his work. At best, the employee will put in the minimum effort required and everyone else involved will be dissatisfied. In this second case, you have a leadership task to fulfill.


Be curios and do your research

What can you do?

First possibility:
Determine in discussions with the employee whether they are not actually suited to this job or indeed this company. Did they only take the job in the first place because it sounded interesting or because parents, friends, society pressured him into doing so? If so, then it is best if he finds himself a new position, either internally or externally.


Second possibility:
This job is related to something that is important to the employee. He can identify with the purpose of the company and the daily work. However, this connection has been lost over time. Perhaps the activities are very stressful for him. Perhaps it is hard work, or is perceived by them as hard work. I am thinking of shift work or heavy manual labor that drags and tears at the nerves. Or perhaps there is a bad atmosphere in the team. Relationships with colleagues is, according to the EY Job Study 2017, far ahead the most important factor influencing motivating conditions at work.

Perhaps the employee has received too much hard and badly communicated criticism, or has had to stand too many complaints and grumbles from their leaders. This sort of thing is frustrating. Of course the ability to perform reduces under such conditions, even when the job is a perfect match for this employee.


Together with the employee determine whether this job is the right one for them or not. Hereby consider the “Big Five for Life” by John Strelecky. If it is the right job, then the employee’s “Big Five for Life” will clearly overlap with the core of the job. The “Big Five for Life” describe what are the most important issues in the life of a person. So find out whether the current job fits or does the employee need a new job.


You, the leader, are the solution

So, it is not about the know-how and about doing the job really well, but rather about the know-why. This requires you as the leader to be in contact with your employees and to encourage them to listen to themselves. Even the employee who makes the beds in the hotel can do his job with passion and verve when they know that their work is extremely important for the purpose of the company and when this purpose overlaps with some of their life purposes.


Cutting to the chase: Talking with your employee

How do you conduct the discussion with your employee?

  1. As ever, keep an appreciative tone. You want to support your employee, not accuse them. Should this not be the case then you should reconsider your attitude towards your employee.
  2. Make it clear to your employee that you are not satisfied with their performance. In order to illustrate this, use concrete facts and figures, use concrete examples. Then you can look for reasons. The blog Impulse 14 “Delegating for advanced leaders” can be helpful in this case. The reasons for the low performance can lie within the employee, but they could also lie in the conditions of the task itself.
  3. Ask your employee, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much desire do you feel right now to bring drive and energy into your job?” Be clear to the employee that nothing less than an honest answer will not bring the issue any closer to a resolution.

Leading means serving. You serve by creating good conditions for your employees. This does not mean that this has to be a special request show for them, but rather that every employee has needs that generally have a solid reasoning.


I wish the best of success in developing a passionately engaged and highly productive team. Develop your employees in the truest sense of the word, for some people are wrapped in a murky world of disorientation and uncertainty. When the fog clears, then all are clear – your employees and you as the leader. If you really want to lead, then you need to take the bull by the horns because this is the most important issue for you as the leader. As a leader you are essentially a servant. You are a servant of those who find joy in their work as you are a servant of those who do not.

Success in your effective leadership!

Your Markus Jotzo

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