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Inspiring the uninspired

For the past two years, I have traveled the country and presented to numerous organizations on the topic of leadership and culture change.  Almost always, I am asked the following question:


How do I “change” my problem employee?


It seems that this is the question most leaders want the quick fix answer to.  Well, here it is: It will take some time, and YOU must be willing to change before you can ask anyone else to consider changing? 




No human can make another human change unless he/she desires to change. The first thing one must do is look at them self as a leader, and ask the following question:


“Am I doing what I need to do to help this person succeed?”


Let’s dig deeper. 


A leader cannot allow the status quo to prevail with uninspired performers.  Failure to act is a disservice to yourself, the employee, and more importantly, your overall team culture (what you allow, you teach.


In some instances, the uninspired employee is often ignored and placed in assignments where he/she will “cause the least amount of damage.”  


I often ask during my lectures, “do you give up on your son or daughter when he/she struggles with life?”  Assuming you answered no, then why would you give up on your employee. 


If you look at the number of active minutes in a day, you spend more time with your employees than you do with your family members.  Those that you lead are part of your extended family.


As a leader, you must make it a priority to spend more time cultivating relationships with each employee you lead.   Specifically, your “problem child.”


It is easy to lead those that want to be led.  The challenge of a true leader is leading those who think they don’t want to be led.


Their Mindset and Perception is Their Reality


First, you must analyze how you perceive your uninspired employee.  It is very possible that your actions, or lack of action may be contributing to the uninspired performance. 


It is important to note that each employee’s mindset and perception is their reality.  As such, you must dig deep into the employee’s core to figure out where things may have gone astray.


MINDSET is an individual's overall attitude about someone or something.  For example, we all have general mindsets about our job, our boss, etc.


PERCEPTION is the mental filter through which everything must pass.


A key point to understand about perception is this:  My perception of reality is my reality.  Your perception of reality is your reality. 


This is where we tend to mess things up from an influence perspective.


We tend to think that if my perception differs from your perception, I must be "right" and you must be "wrong."


As an influencer, you must NOT allow this to happen, because if you do, you will immediately create a power struggle.  When you enter a power struggle, you have NO chance of positively influencing the other person.


In previous blog entries I asked you to recall the passion a person had early in their career.  Your uninspired employee was just like you on day one.  They arrived at your agency focusing on fundamentals with a constant and never ending improvement mindset. They were self-motivated, loved being part of the agency and wanted to make a good impression in all that they did. Basically, they came to work wanting to do a good job.  They loved who they were, and more importantly, they loved their job and organization because it was new, challenging, and FUN.   Basically, their mindset and perception of things was at its best relative to organizational commitment. 


This leads me back to Bobby Graham, a senior partner of mine who told me upon arrival to my new career 20+ years ago, “your gonna love the job, but how you deal with the battle from within will define you.” 


What is the battle from within you ask? 


Doing the job itself is fun, it is all the peripheral things that tend to deflate a person i.e., poor organizational culture, poor leadership, conflicting processes and programs, and organizational issue to name a few.  All have a negative effect on a person’s commitment to an organization.  If left unaddressed, the result is catastrophic to a person relative to his/her engagement within the team concept and overall mindset and perception. 


Negative experiences lead to negative thoughts, and ultimately negative feelings and behaviors.


Unlike you, your uninspired employee may not have dealt with “the battle from within” as well as you did.  As such, their predominant mindset and perception is that of a victim. 


So, based on their perceived negative experiences, their perception is their reality.


Change Their Experience


If you have an uninspired employee who has incurred bad experiences throughout his/her career what is left for you to do?  Replace his/her bad experiences with good experiences.  The only way to truly influence an individual's mindset and perception is through...the experiences YOU provide to them.


The experiences you create through your actions, have a far greater impact than anything you may say.  Positive experiences lead to positive thoughts and ultimately positive feelings and behaviors.  As an influencer, you simply must begin to provide these experiences ON PURPOSE.


Tap into Their Individual Needs


Paying attention to the people around you, in your relationships, and amongst those you work with, you will become aware of how to provide appropriate and effective situational experiences to properly influence their mindset and perception.


Tony Robbins developed Human Needs Psychology™ which is a means for simplifying HOW to approach an individual to provide them with the most appropriate and effective situation experience based on their individual performance needs.


Basically, all human beings have the following Primary Performance Needs™ relative to responsive behaviors in life:


Consistency – The need for things to be familiar.  They tend to have an acute focus on time/never being late.  In other words, this type person does not like change.


Variety – The opposite of consistency.  They tend to get bored easy and are always looking for something new or different.


Love and Connectedness – Put a lot of time and effort in to relationships.  They Love being part of a team.


Significance – Acute focus on receiving recognition and acknowledgement.


Growth – Constantly learning new things and expanding their horizons.


Contribution – Overtly interested in contributing i.e., society, charity and organization.  They tend to go out of their way to help, support, and contribute.


The first four Primary Performance Needs™ (Consistency, Variety, Love & Connectedness, and Significance) are PERSONALITY NEEDS.  The last two Primary Performance Needs™ (Growth and Contribution) are referred to as SPIRITUAL NEEDS.


By understanding what an individual's top needs are, and providing positive experiences that fill those needs, great power is achieved in the ability to influence and inspire.  Tapping into what’s important to THEM should be the norm. 


Stay safe.

Bob Catinazzo is a decorated Senior Supervisory Agent for the DEA (retired), and is Director- Law Enforcement Services for the Practicing Perfection Institute.  He has taught law enforcement professionals around the world, providing strategic and tactical insights in leadership and human performance.


Bob Catinazzo, PPM

Practicing Perfection Institute

Executive Vice-President – Client Services

(203) 738-8466

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