Designated Drivers

Some members of my team getting ready to race at a local indoor track

I just read the book Drive by Daniel Pink.  In it, he describes the 21st Century worker and what it takes to keep them engaged at work.  The book reminds readers that "management" was originally introduced centuries ago to control the behaviors and output of employees (mostly industrial) and in many ways that formula is unchanged.

According to Pink, there are three elements that drive and motivate 21st Century workers towards being their best;


In a strengths-based culture, team members are encouraged to leverage their unique talents to get to the desired end results.  They collaborate with management on aspects of their job where they can test and strengthen their natural talents while meeting (and often exceeding) designated expectations. Greater autonomy can be achieved when you volunteer for - or better create - projects which align with your talents.  For 2019, consider designing your annual Objectives and Accountabilities (or whatever you call your performance metrics) around your Signature Talent Themes.  Where can your talents improve, enhance or advance a current business need? Discover these places and you can gain more control and autonomy while doing work you were meant to do.

The sense that we are advancing both our work and our talents also contributes to our inner drive.  Think about the last project you executed where you felt truly satisfied and accomplished and when you were recognized for a job well done.  On this project, you were likely in your "strengths zone", firing talents on all cylinders. According to the book Drive, you were also likely in your "Goldilocks Zone".  In a strengths-based culture, management balances the work that people must do with the work they actually can do - and do well.  In Drive, the author says that team members will be most satisfied with work that is not too hard and not too easy.  He calls these "Goldilocks Tasks" - those that are just right.  Great leaders can drive intrinsic motivation by matching Signature Talent Themes with "Goldilocks Tasks".

Finding and demonstrating passion in the work that we do is a goal everyone should strive for.  Leveraging natural talents and continuously evolving into better versions of ourselves is a true path to work that is invigorating and rewarding.  Add a higher purpose to this equation and you have discovered the secret sauce.  When people actually care about the outcome of their work and can link their daily tasks to a greater good, then their work takes on a whole new level of meaning.

One of the largest work units I lead sells theme park tickets and provides customer service to guests staying in hotels in and around Universal Orlando Resort.  When I greet new hires during their on-boarding, I ask them to think about the best vacation they ever took with family or friends.  I ask them to think about why those memories are so special to them.  Often, the answer is that they were part of a unique experience or adventure with family and remembering those moments brought them closer together.  I then remind these new hires that their job is not selling tickets - it is to bring families closer together by helping them to create shared experiences that they will remember for a lifetime.

Recently, I have attempted to build awareness, energy and acceptance of a simpler purpose for my entire team.  While roles and responsibilities are varied in the different work units, we can all help to "Make it Easy" for guests, clients and internal partners.  Simple.  People want simple.  Simple helps to enhance experiences so people can connect on different levels.

I know that the best way I can Make it Easy on my team (Purpose)  is to be aware and respectful of  their natural talents, to challenge and help them to become better versions of themselves (Mastery)  by finding unique and personal ways to apply their talents to satisfy agreed upon goals and objectives (Autonomy).

Dan is currently serving 20 years to life as the Sr. Director of Destination Experiences at Universal Orlando Resort.  He prefers white-water rapids over data lakes and lists Ideation, Futuristic and Positivity amongst his signature talents.    Find him on Twitter @dpddonovan 


Popular posts from this blog

Achiever: The Whisper of Discontent

Activator: Just Getting Started

Playing with Tradition