300 Percent
By Wally Adamchik
Oct 15, 2008 - 11:47:06 AM

If you've heard it once, you've heard it one hundred ten times--that overused cliché urging you to give 110%! But, times change and 110% is no longer good enough. If I am in a leadership role I want 300% from my people. You should, too. This isn't about inflation; it's about a better way of thinking about motivation and employee productivity. But, if giving 110% seemed hard, then wouldn't 300% be nearly impossible? Not with the right kind of leadership. Let's take a look.

When people show up to work, you already have 100% of them. You have their physical bodies. Let's call this their hands. They show up and execute tasks in order to deliver some level of production that will enable them to keep their jobs and keep getting a paycheck. However, in business, having just 100% of someone won't bring about success because you are missing 200%--a very critical 200%.

The next 100% is their head-more specifically, their brains. When we get this 100%, we get a thinking contributor to the team. They are not satisfied by simply doing the work. Seeking out intellectual stimulation, they like to think up better ways to do the work. They enjoy being recognized for the contributions they make to the team, and being asked, "What do you think?"

With hands and head, we have 200%. That's not bad, but it's not enough to defeat your competition, whose employees are giving 300%. And that final 100% is the heart. When we get this from our employees, we get their dedication and commitment to the task and to the cause. People who put their heart into their work jump in with both feet and are emotionally engaged in what they do. But, the only way to get your employees to bring this to the job is for leadership to treat them with trust and respect, and to help them see their contribution to the bigger picture. These folks come to work because they want to--not because they have to. They are bright, and emotionally committed to the objectives of the firm. The companies that get 300% from their employees are the ones that win in business.

I realize that 300% is optimal. Maybe on some days, we get 100% of their hands (meaning they showed up for work), 55% of their head, and 71% of their heart. That's still significantly better than a measly 110%. Of course, if they don't show up, you get 0%. Employees who are not challenged to use their head and heart are much more likely to be absent from work. But those who are asked to contribute 200% and 300% have greater reliability. It has everything to do with feeling like you are making a valuable contribution and that you truly are part of the team.

I encourage you to start looking at your people through these three lenses. If they're not showing up--if you don't even get their hands on a regular basis--do you really have room for them on your team? But, just coming in isn't enough. Are they thinking on the job? Are they looking for and suggesting new and better ways to get the work done? Finally, are they passionate about what the company does, and their role in it? The only chance you have for people to give you 300% is to lead them well. In other words, are you giving 300%, too?

Wally Adamchik is the President of FireStarter Speaking and Consulting, a national leadership consulting firm based in Raleigh, NC. You can visit the website at or email him at [email protected]. His book is No Yelling ( was selected by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the best business books of Summer 2007.

© Copyright 2001