Leading “Paycheck People”

Paycheck People. We all know some. These are people who come into work and do the bare minimum so that they can keep their job and simply draw a paycheck. It is like they spend each day crawling through mud just to make it to the five o’clock whistle. How did these people get to where they are? They live a seemingly existential life of workplace mush.

Or better yet, why did they give up on the dream of achieving great things?!?!

My take on their lack of motivation is that several things contribute to this job lifestyle of malaise and weariness. I feel this comes from various circumstances which could include disappointment from management over the years, mediocre co-workers who co-opt their future, or challenging family situations that keep them from achieving exciting goals.

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Looking to History for Lessons on Leadership


People want to succeed

Most people want to be successful. But, this doesn’t just come from dreaming or wishing it to be true. Being successful takes a great deal of hard work and effort, a little luck, and some great mentoring.

  • When you see these people in your organization that slog their way through each day, what do you do about them?
  • Do you try to inspire them to be great?
  • Or do you simply write them off as lazy, uncaring, and a waste of everyone’s time?

If you care about people from a servant leader’s point-of-view, you will remember that often times “People don’t fail, we fail people.”

What kind of team do you have?

Every business has a team or a series of teams. Some of these teams are good; others of them not-so-good; and still others that flat-out stink. As leaders, we need to understand who we have on our teams and work to make them better at what they do. We need to know their strengths, their struggles,and their values to help lead them out of the mud. We need to help provide resources and control those environmental elements that make it conducive for success. It is up to us to make sure that our people are successful. We must allow them to achieve those goals that we ask them to carry out each and every day.

You ask “Who am I to do this?”

You might be their manager, co-worker, or friend. Remember we are dealing with real people, and at the end of the day, these are people who can do great things given the proper opportunity, supportencouragement, vision, and tools to get the job done.

Don’t just show up for work

Really great things can be done when the vision is cast and the right players are working together with a shared cause, adequate resources, and a real deadline. Once a great team of people decided we should go to the Moon!  And they did it.

The naysayers said “It can’t be done. Why go? Should we go?

To those who had this dream, the goal of making it a reality, they accomplished the unthinkable by working as a team. This group of people came together with a common goal to achieve a task. They didn’t get there by just showing up each day and collecting a “paycheck.” Paycheck people just don’t seem to make it very far off the ground. But the people who put everything they had into the dream and the leadership empowered them to accomplish the goal make to the moon and back!

Lead by empowering others

Have you forgotten what it is to dream? Maybe so have your paycheck people. Do everyone a favor, don’t have paycheck people in your organization! It is your job to empower them, inspire them, and listen to them.

You might discover that paycheck person just needed someone to believe in them, invest in them, and allow them to achieve those goals you hired them to accomplish. Like them or not,  they are a part of your team.

Be the kind of person who will understand that they may be stuck in the mud and need a helping hand out.

Empower them to dream once again, strengthen your team!  Accomplish the unthinkable! Your company’s success depends on it.

Do you have paycheck people who are on your team (and on your payroll)? Do they suck the life out of initiatives and objectives on a daily basis? Do you see them as failed and broken and want them out? Or do you see them as stuck in the mud with the need for help? What is your plan for getting them unstuck from their paycheck mindset? Do you feel equipped to deal with this? I’d love to hear your perspective.

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Brent Karns is Chairman/CEO at Lexmarkholdings, Inc.
He can be reached at bkarns@lexmarkholdings.com

Image Sources: nik.co.uk, blogs.watoday.com.au, spaceflight1.nasa.gov, my-4×4.com


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