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Everyone is a Volunteer

Hiring Advice

Every one of your employees voluntarily works for you.

David Dye made a great point in his article, Motivate Your Team – Avoid This Mistake: if you truly want to motivate your team, understand everyone is a volunteer. Every employee you lead, every manager you report to and every coworker you work with voluntarily works. You can’t force people to work beyond the minimum. You can’t force them to be creative, a problem-solver or innovative. 

My mom used to tell me a story about two working men having lunch. The first man turns to the other man, who is disappointed by the contents of his lunch box; and asks, “what is wrong, Joe”, and Joe responds, “peanut butter and jelly sandwich again”. The first man asks, “Joe, why don’t you ask your wife to make you something different?” Joe says, “I am not married, I live alone.”

Your employees choose: how/when they show up each day, how much energy they expend and if they solve or ignore problems. Wages and salary don’t motivate your team but your leadership, culture, clear goals and their own personal motivation does.

When you lower expectations, tolerate poor performance and bad behavior; you show your team you don’t care and you won’t achieve your goals. If there is an employee who volunteers their energy and time and strives to do their best, but they work with someone who is half-hearted in their efforts and doesn’t care; that hardworking volunteer will quit.

Everyone has a choice and their time is precious. It’s up to you to make it worthwhile for your employees to work for you, your team and the company. Don’t keep making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for yourself, change it is up to you.

Pati Kelly is a contingent and retained recruiter exclusive to the electrical industry with a specialty in Wire and Cable. To learn more about how she can help your company identify and attract talent, check out her biography, view her LinkedIn profile or send her an email at