3 Ways to Energize Employees

Treat people like tools – they act like zombies.

Machines get things done, but people have heart.

What are you really doing?


The tee-ball coach is teaching Freddie to hit the ball off a tee. The task is learning to hit. A skillful coach knows there’s more.

“Freddie, why are you learning to hit the ball?”

Freddie says, “Because you said to, coach.” The skillful coach says, “That’s one reason. But why are YOU learning to hit the ball?”

Freddie might say, “Because I have to learn if I’m going to play ball.” Coach says, “That’s true, Freddie. But why does hitting the ball matter?”

Freddie’s eyes light up, “Because I want to get to first base.”

Coach says, “Let’s work on getting you to first base.”


I asked a skilled technician what he did at his plant during a recent Train-the-Trainer workshop. He said, “I tear down engines and clean crankshafts.” I asked, “Why?”

“Because it’s my job.”

“But what’s important about cleaning crankshafts?”

He replied, “So we can put them in re-manufactured engines.”

“But what are you really doing?” I asked.

He said, “I’m taking the vibration out of engines.”

(The above is a condensed version of the conversation.)


Imagine a basketball coach telling a player to run to the side of the court. The player asks, “But why am I running to the side of the court?”

The foolish coach says, “Just do what I tell you.”

The wise coach says, “You’re drawing the defenders away from the basket.”

Help people find reasons for work.

Purpose is energy.

3 ways to energize employees:

  1. Help people find their reasons for work. “Why do YOU want to learn to hit?”
  2. Ask, “Why does it matter?”
  3. What’s the bigger picture? “We’re getting to first base.”

How might leaders help team mates find energy?