How to motivate the muddled majority of your workforce

Don’t sweat the lunatic fringe who complain no matter what you do. Instead, work to inspire and engage the lukewarm lemons—and equip them for peak open-road performance.

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Are your colleagues more like a fleet of high-powered Porsches—or a gassy gaggle of Ford Pintos?

Most communicators would probably describe their fellow employees in more middle-of-the-road fashion. Think, a garage full of late-model Toyota Corollas, for example. Reliable, for the most part, but nothing too fancy. See if any of these folks sound familiar:

How on earth might you empower these sorts of sour or dour lemons and help them truly flower?

Communicators can only do so much to motivate, educate or cajole, but Jim Ylisela, Ragan Consulting co-founder, says engaging tepid tinkerers is all about helping them feel part of something meaningful:

“At any workplace, there are people on the top who love everything and those on the bottom who are always unhappy. Then there’s the 70% to 80% of your workforce in the middle. These are the people we can reach. We can influence them; they’re gettable. The goal is to move that silent majority toward the positive side of the ledger and get them more engaged then they are.”

How does that movement occur? It’s about substance and meaning—not just Jeans Fridays or Ping-Pong Lunches.

Ylisela continues:

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