Read to the end – surprise awaits!

Maximize Overlapping Desires…

I realize the changes in the employment picture are challenging. Mostly because today employees (or channel partners and consumers for that matter) look at the world differently. They don’t follow the same thinking process that the previous generations of workers did. They care about social issues, they care about family, they care about ethics and transparency. They care period.

One of the difficult parts of putting together initiatives to influence behavior is figuring out what will get an audience’s attention – what will make them sit up and notice? In the past we looked at our audience and said “hey – let’s give them a bonus, that will get their attention.” Or we said – “let’s let them earn a trip where we can throw parties and let them rub elbows with the Execs. They’ll love that.”

Unfortunately, they don’t “love that” anymore.

Whenever I have a complex problem I try to put it into a graphic. Graphics, for me, solidify concepts and communicate much more than the words. For the challenge of motivating the new generation I put together these graphics….

For the past generations, work was paramount. Work defined you. Work was what you said when someone asked “Who are you?” Work was separate from the stuff you did outside of work.


Yesterday the goal was to maximize the “Work” bubble in order to grow the other bubbles. The larger the “Work” bubble, the larger the “Home” and “Play” bubble could grow. “Home” and “Play” were dependent on “Work.”

But today – “Work” is not a separate bubble. Work today is incorporated into a much larger picture of who you are. Today’s employee looks like this…

Today’s employee (program participant) looks at the three bubbles and determines the best way to grow them all. They are not so much focused on one bubble as they are focused on all bubbles. The goal is to grow them at the same time – not grow one before the other.

When you look at employees (or anyone else you’re trying to influence) understand that your initiative must take into account the balance. Offering a trip for recognition may work – if you take into account that the audience may want to to have the option to volunteer to build a playground while on the trip, or that that trip is “eco-friendly.”

The real message here is to plan your incentives, recognition and influence to cover the space in the middle of the circle. That is the sweet spot for our new wave of employees and partners.

Their lives are based on maximizing the overlap.

Now the surprise….

This post (minus some minor editing because I write a bit gooder today) was originally posted on my old typepad blog in 2007 – 11 years ago! That’s right – we’ve been talking about how people deal with work-life balance for that long and still don’t have the answer. My take – we don’t have an answer because we still think of this issue as a issue of choice instead of an issue of optimization . I don’t choose one over the other … I choose all with varying degrees of value – AT THAT POINT IN TIME. We change our optimization strategies regularly.

Want to provide appropriate awards and rewards – let the people manage their own optimization. Give them options within options.

Thanks – I’ll be back soon with another post from 2007 that will sound like a new post very soon!