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An Interview with #SHRM18 Speaker Joey Price

Joey Price does it all. He's an entrepreneur, CEO of Jumpstart:HR, blogger, podcaster, and coffee connoisseur. And he also knows a little bit about leadership. It's that topic that he'll be speaking on at #SHRM18 in Chicago. The title of his session is "EmployME Engagement: How to Drive Employee Engagement in a Society That's All About Me." I was fortunate enough to catch up with Joey to get a glimpse into this session.

KE: What got you interested in this topic in the first place?

JP: Being an employee myself, I was selfishly interested in what motivates employees. I was a kinesiology major in college, basically I was focused on what it takes for the bodies of athletes to excel. As I entered the professional world, I found myself wondering what it takes humans to be excel, or what makes them leave to go somewhere they can.

A few years ago, we did a study on this question. We found that many companies fail to initiate a custom approach. This isn't the industrial age, and we simply cannot afford to treat every employee the same. The modern worker is more nuanced. The companies and leaders that succeed are the ones who recognize their employees as individuals.

KE: In your talk, you're going to reference Novice Adopters and Courageous Motivators. What are these groups, and what is the difference?

JP: These are identifiers for groups of employees based on how long they have been with your company. Novice adopters are the folks who just got into your organization recently. They are still learning how things are done around here. To these people, leaders should be taking the opportunity to share and discuss the values and goals of the company, ideally turning the novice adopters into positive internal champions.

Courageous motivators are the ones who have been with the company a while, and have already progressed through the novice adopter stage. These folks may not necessarily have a position of power within the organization, but they still have the ability to influence their coworkers. Because they have some length of service and a level of comfort within the organization, they have the ability to suggest ideas and recommend changes, or maybe voice concerns about processes. Leaders should be looking to this group for champions of the cause, gain support for new projects that will benefit the company, things like that.

KE: One of the things you're going to talk about is signs of an unmotivated employee. Can you give us a peak at one?

JP: One of the most telling traits of a person's motivation is how far the person will go (or not go) to finish a task, complete a project, satisfy a customer, etc. Highly-engaged and motivated employees realize that their customers are the life-blood of the company. They naturally go above and beyond without being asked to. They also recognize that every employee is also a customer. Their service mentality comes naturally.

Unmotivated folks, on the other hand, will do just enough, but rarely go beyond that. They are satisfied with good enough. They will not look for ways to turn good into better, or better into outstanding.

KE: Is it really possible for a manager to truly motivate an employee? Or can they only "set the stage"?

JP: At the end of the day, it's not up to a manager to force motivation on their employees or make them enthusiastic about their job. But they can and should engage them properly. Our people are a resource, just like technology, cash flow, etc. All of these things work together to execute company goals and strategies. It is up to managers to ensure that our people are adequately prepared, properly positioned within the company, and any unnecessary barriers to success removed, in order to allow them to be successful.

KE: For the non-Marketers reading this (myself included), what is market segmentation, and how is it applied to employee development programs?

JP: If I wasn't in HR, I'd definitely be in Marketing. With that said, I love to take marketing theory and incorporate them into HR processes. Marketing segmentation is simply the understanding that everyone does not respond to the same message the same way, and does not put the same priority on certain messages as others. We need to segment our message properly, to appeal to all of our employees based on what motivates them. Think about a group of novice adopters, new to your company. If your attempts to engage them are falling flat, why? Are you trying to reach all of them with the same message? We should instead realize that a custom approach will be more effective.

To illustrate this, let's look at the iPhone. It's the biggest smartphone in the world as far as market share. How is Apple going to appeal to potential users? Based on how each person will use the phone. Grandparents will love that they can quickly take pictures of their grandchildren, or FaceTime with them when they can't be together in person. Young people will love that they can sync their data to the cloud, and don't have to carry a computer with them wherever they go. Techies will like the chip speed, and the potential of the phone for apps, etc. The message has to be custom to what the motivates the end user. In this case, the end user is each employee.

KE: Your podcast is called 'Business, Life and Coffee'. What role does coffee play in your life?

JP: I really love the community feeling when you walk into a coffee shop. You know, Starbucks' business model wasn't even necessarily about selling coffee, it was about creating a place for people to meet and socialize. I think coffee is always better when you're spending time with someone else. These days, coffee plays a big part in peoples's lives. Gone are the days of the water cooler talk. We'll see this clearly at SHRM18, long lines of people waiting for coffee, talking to each other, connecting.

You can catch Joey's session "EmployME Engagement: How to Drive Employee Engagement in a Society That's All About Me" on Tuesday 6/19 at 7am. You can also connect with Joey online and check out his blog and podcast.

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