It’s a Wednesday. The stadium is about 1/3 of the way full, mostly behind home plate. There are a few speckles of faces in the outfield, but mostly empty chairs. The batter just cracked one out into right field. The fielder is running for the ball, but we all know he could run a lot faster. The batter should have made it to 1st base by now but he’s only half way there.
Not to bash professional baseball, it is a great sport, but we’ve all seen these games. The announcer’s try their hardest but it just isn’t exciting. The players aren’t in the game. Even at home, you’re probably on the couch and more focused on that Angry Birds level you can’t beat than on the game.
How many times have you walked around your office and saw similar symptoms in your employees? The energy is flat. Meetings are taking place but the voices from the conference room are monotone at best. At 5:00 everyone in the office is gone and there is still plenty of work to do. Your employees aren’t in the game. They aren’t engaged.
Let’s fast forward to the ninth inning. You just plugged up your (now dead) smart phone and you are reaching for the remote to watch something more exciting, like the news. Something catches your attention. The pitcher’s posture is straight and stiff, focused. The guy at the plate is moving slightly different, weight perfectly balanced. The coach and the crowd are dead silent. Even the announcers have stopped filling the air with obscure statistics from the “glory days”. Why? Because the score is 1-0 and this is the last out.
If you could freeze that moment and ask someone in the crowd why there has been a change in attitude they would have the same response that you’re probably thinking right now. “The game is on the line. Someone could lose.”
But if you go ask the players the response will be totally different. If you ask them why their attitude has changed they will tell you, “Because I know we can win.” Two very different responses for the exact same situation. One based on fear and the other based on confidence and hope.
We’ll talk more about the meaning of these different responses next week. In the meantime, take a few minutes and walk around your office for a bit. Observe your employees. How are they walking? How do they sound? How do they interact? Are the sounds in the air low and monotone or loud and excited? Are those arguments passionate debates or infectious complaints? Are shoulders slumped and heads down or pulled back and looking forward?