Transforming Work Part 7: TIRED vs GOOD TIRED

By on December 10, 2015

How do you maximize performance? Great leaders and the most successful and valued employees understand that high performance cannot be achieved or sustained without nurturing fulfillment. The seventh mindset of workplace transformation centers on shifting your focus from optimizing performance to optimizing fulfillment and satisfaction.

Are you performance focused?
Words like “fulfillment” feel foreign and out of place to many managers. They are used to focusing on reductionist techniques for measuring and optimizing employee output. Traditional performance-focused managers tend to ask questions like:
• Are my employees doing their job, achieving maximum productivity, and meeting objectives?
• What are their weaknesses? How do they need to improve skills, knowledge and/or systems to manage these weaknesses?
• Why are they not doing as much as they could be?
• Are they giving all that they can give to the organization?
• How can I make them give more?
The performance-focused manager works from an assumption that employees need to be managed (a.k.a. coerced, cajoled, forced, monitored) to perform at their best.
Fulfillment Focus
The fulfillment-focused manager, however, believes that when people are aligned with their strengths, passions, and values, they will do their best work without having to constantly be poked, prodded and measured. They ask questions like:
• What are the unique strengths of each member of my team? How can I help them leverage those strengths more effectively in their role?
• Are my people learning and growing in ways that are meaningful for them?
• Are they getting all they can get from their work?
• How can I help them to get more from this experience?
The bottom line – performance-focused managers are most concerned about getting all that they can from each employee. Fulfillment-focused managers understand that if the company is giving the employee all of the things that they need in order to thrive, they will naturally evolve towards higher levels of performance.
This all sounds great you might be thinking, but at the end of the day, improving measurable performance links to the profits that are necessary for the company to thrive. Can you say the same about fulfillment? Absolutely.
Fourteen separate studies from Wilson Learning Worldwide showed a significant relationship between employee fulfillment and work unit performance. The higher the levels of employee fulfillment were, the higher the bottom line performance.
This research also demonstrated that managers and leaders are the primary factors impacting high levels of employee fulfillment. Higher levels of fulfillment were seen when managers focused time on ensuring clarity of direction and objectives, providing feedback, recognition and support, empowering employees to make decisions and take action independently, and eliminating barriers to productivity by creating systems and providing access to the resources their employees needed to do their jobs most effectively.
In short, fulfillment-focused managers don’t try to wring every ounce of performance out of an employee. Instead, they focus on helping each individual tap into what creates (or blocks) fulfillment for them at work, and on fighting the big picture battles that interfere with people’s ability to do their best work.
Remember the fairy tale with the goose that laid the golden egg? Most managers understand that if they kill the goose, they get no more eggs. But they fail to realize that if they put too much pressure on the goose to lay golden eggs, its production will slowly dry up. A happy, secure goose that is treated well and given the right kind of love and attention is going to lay far more golden eggs and for far longer than one that is starved and threatened while simultaneously being pressured (a.k.a. “rewarded”) to produce.
At the end of the day, performance-focused managers feel they have done their job if everyone is fully spent at the end of the day. In Japanese, this links to the “exhaust yourself” meaning of gambatte, that is so often used to encourage people to work hard and give their best. Fulfillment-focused managers know that they are doing their job if, at the end of the day, people are not simply tired, but “good tired”. That feeling you get when you flop into a chair at the end of the day with a smile on your face and say “yoisho”, excited to get to bed but equally excited to get up and get back at it the next day.

Read also:

Read part 1

Read part 2

Read part 3

Read part 4

Read part 5

Read part 6

About Andrea Jacques

Andrea Jacques is the founder of Kyosei Consulting and the author of Wabi-Sabi Wisdom: Inspiration for an Authentic Life (available on She has spent more than 20 years developing the potential of people and businesses worldwide, five of which were in Japan. A dynamic speaker, coach, and facilitator, her work integrates spiritual insight with top-tier leadership, wellness and sustainability consulting to help individuals and organizations build thriving, purpose-driven cultures where employees know their work truly matters. She can be contacted through her website at