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My neighbour Jim is sweeping the sidewalk in front of his house. He spends hours keeping it immaculate. And he’s smiling!

Why does he do it? The sidewalk’s not his, yet he cares for it like he owned every square inch. Why would Jim work for the city, keeping their sidewalk pristine and never expect a dime for his efforts? It’s all about psychological ownership - in Jim’s mind, the sidewalk is his.

The transfer of ownership from the city to Jim occurred not because of any contractual agreement – it happened because of Jim’s driving needs. Jim has a strong need for both significance and belonging.

Significance: Jim receives respect and admiration from the rest of us because of how he keeps his property.

Belonging: Jim does not want to be “that guy” the rest of us ridicules because his yard tarnishes our street’s cred.

Does Jim receive a paycheck for his work? No question – an emotional paycheck from his neighbours, not a financial one from the city.

Why is this linkage between driving needs and ownership important to understand? Because the discretionary effort of your employees is unlocked through emotional ownership and emotional ownership is triggered by driving needs.

In short, your employees go the extra mile to build the success of your company because they feel they own it and they own the success of your company because doing so meets their driving needs for belonging, significance or meaning.

Energizing employees is an inside job – focusing first on the inner architecture of driving needs – the emotional payoffs that cause employees to own the success of your company. These intrinsic motivators have been and always will be what drives extraordinary effort.

In summary:

  • Driving needs don’t have to be (and can’t be) created. Employees come fully equipped with them (batteries included).
  • Driving needs (when met) release emotional engagement, that elusive element that unlocks 400% more discretionary effort than rational engagement (See our book “Love at Work” for lots more on this).
  • Driving needs can be identified by any leader who learns how to engage in a “What matters most” conversation.
  • Driving needs (when met) are the payoff that enable your employees to work for free (and feel fully alive doing so).

For more on how to energize your team, get

Juice’s FREE white paper: The 5 Drivers of Engagement.

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