Have you ever heard the phrase, “Just a cog in the wheel.”?  It describes a large part of today’s workforce. I affectionately call these people “Coggers”.  What is a Cogger you ask?  Have you ever met someone who is mildly interested in their job and goes through the motions each day refusing to look outside their cube at the possibility of what could be or should be, while remaining completely DISENGAGED?  Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to The Cogger (Melancholy Cheers…).

Do you remember the old Jeff Foxworthy redneck-isms? I am sure we could build a pretty cool list of, “You might be a Cogger”-isms.  Let’s try a few.  If you sit in the same place each day, pressing the same buttons, having the same conversations, getting the same results, you might be a Cogger.

Or, how about if getting a new flavor of coffee in your office coffee pot engages you more than the mission and vision of your job, you might be a Cogger.  If your idea of team building is spreading the latest junk at the water cooler about Sally Manager vs. driving a new way to interface with customers in order to better meet their needs, you might be a Cogger. You see, they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but ultimately, they confine themselves to their small piece of real estate and safely stay inside.

Are Coggers born or made?  BOTH!  One sect of this dysfunctional body is made.  How?  That’s easy – by working in your boring environment.

If you choose to work at a place that does not constantly engage you to think, strive for more, or clearly illustrate how your work impacts the world for the better you will begin to burn out, lose your zest, and…

High-quality people will leave because they frankly have better things to do and know it.

The other sect is the born Coggers.  These types either had poor role models growing up or just have a natural disposition for mediocre bliss.  You have two choices – rehab or termination.  Sound harsh?  Could be…or it could be strict reality with a wakeup call for something greater.  My experience says that rehabbing is possible – but difficult.  I have hired a few Coggers in the past, and some made excellent progress while others crashed and burned. To successfully rehab Mr. Cogger, you must have a clear people process which rewards the behaviors you value and want to see repeated along with a dynamic personnel development focus.  When Coggers become part of a kick-butt environment of accountability, purpose, and fun they either reject it because it is so foreign, or they embrace it and begin living.  It’s pretty cool to witness the epiphany in some, but frustrating to observe the mindless rejection in others.

So, if having a group full of Coggers is not the goal, what is?  Great question Johnny!  By the way, I love how engaged you are.  Keep it up!

The goal is to have a team full of people with a razor-sharp focus who are constantly driven to improve their customers, co-workers, and company, while proactively taking the reins on their own personal…

We call these types Commandos.

Did you ever play the old school Nintendo game Contra?  It was a game where you were a commando dropped in the jungle who had to fight his way out against a host of nastiness.  You had multiple weapons and could basically fight your way out of any situation.  Have you ever seen a Commando in the workplace?  They’re intense, driven, full of ideas, and addicted to improving the current state no matter the cost – they are on a mission and failure is NOT an option.  Commandos interact with their clients in ways their competition does not.  They solve problems by providing tailored solutions which make the client feel significant.  In fact, Commandos are so covert that they can provide these solutions while saving their customers money and increasing profits at the same time.

What would happen if the workers assembling products on the shop floor began thinking beyond screwing part A into part B?

What if that office worker who presses the same buttons every day on her keyboard chose to start each morning by answering the question, “How can I make a difference today?” or “How can I make today better for my…

What if Sally Manager decided to make her employees’ environment engaging, full of meaning and fun today?  You see it’s all about thinking outside of the Cogger’s confined existence and opening up to something of substance and meaning.  So what’s holding you back from leaving your days of Cogging and enlisting in the adventure of being a Commando?