Share With:

By Mike Agugliaro


When your employees show up to work in the morning, are they coming in early, ready-to-work, and motivated to give their very best throughout the day?

You may have read that question and laughed at your own answer because you might have to admit, like many other plumbing companies out there, that employees don’t always engage with their work the way you want them to.

Truth be told, many of your employees might straggle in, need a few minutes to get up to speed, and even then they don’t always deliver at 100% (or even 80%) throughout the day. Many business owners express frustration at how hard it is to find employees who will step up daily and serve your customers at the highest level all day long.

What options do you have to get the best out of them? Most leaders use various motivational methods like the carrot-and-stick method: you tempt them with a reward for good work and you threaten them with punishment for poor work. That’s Standard Operating Procedure for most leaders.

And does it work? Well, sort of. Although all it does is turn you into a Santa Claus with a naughty list and a nice list, offering gifts if only your employees do the job they’ve been hired to do and offering coal if they don’t. You end up having to continue giving them more and more gifts just to get them to do the work you wanted them to do in the first place.

Fortunately, there’s another option that many leaders don’t realize, and this is a powerful option that not only creates inner motivation in your employees, it’s actually more fun (and affordable!) for you. It will create a stronger working environment and more loyalty, too.

Forget the carrot, forget the stick. Have a conversation with each employee. Specifically, learn about them; get to know them; find out about their lives

You see, most leaders think that people show up to work to earn a paycheck. But that is not really the truth. No one really needs a paycheck! The real reason people show up to work is because of what the paycheck can buy. (Re-read that last sentence because there is a lot of truth there!)

Your employees don’t really need money. They need whatever that money buys – food for their family, a roof over their head, etc. Every employee has different reasons for earning their money – some might want to support their growing family; others might have a sick family member they’re supporting financially; maybe they’re sending a child to college; others might have a hobby, like hunting or restoring a car.

When you find out what your employees spend their money on, you find out their deepest “Why” – the reason they get up in the morning, put on your company’s uniform, and show up to work.

Once you know this Why, then you can use it to help them and to help you. Not all employees make the automatic connection between how their work earns a paycheck which allows them to pay for their Why. So you need to help them see the connection.

  • Show them that showing up to work on time, and giving their very best, helps them demonstrate their commitment to the job, which creates job security for them, and thus allows them to continue earning money for their Why.
  • Show them that serving customers at the highest level, every single day, creates more business for the company, which helps to create more opportunities for them – whether that’s a more job security, an increase in pay, or a higher position in the company.
  • There may be times when you need to show them that their poor behavior and unacceptable workmanship doesn’t just jeopardize their job… It jeopardizes their ability to support their Why.
  • And, if their work ever changes (i.e. from great to poor) then you have an opportunity to ask them about their Why, to see what’s changed in their lives, and to see if you can help them get back in alignment – either in your company or somewhere else.

The carrot and the stick? They’re useful tools but they just create reactive employees when you rely on just those tools to motivate your employees. The better strategy – the one that is actually more fulfilling for you as a leader – is to get to know your employees and find out what they do when they’re not at work. Discover their Why and you discover the key to creating employees who give their very best always.

Mike Agugliaro is the co-founder of East Brunswick-based home service company, Gold Medal Service. Set as the area’s leading, complete home care business, Gold Medal Service provides residential plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and electrical services all backed by a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. As an admired business coach, Agugliaro takes from his own experience to regularly lead national speeches, podcasts, webinars, and seminars on behalf of his other business, CEO Warrior, and has published two business books with a third currently in production.


Join the conversation: