ROAD Warrior (noun):
Employee Retired On Active Duty
Employee loyal primarily to paycheck
See also: The kiss of death for a constructive company culture
You know the type—they’re employees whose primary motivation for showing up to work is summed up in three words: “It’s a paycheck.” This mindset leads to a lack of initiative and effort—a recipe for complacency. Unfortunately, such lackluster attitudes are contagious and when they start swirling through a team or a company, the morale starts circling the drain. ROAD warriors are the equivalent of culture cancer. While such employees might be casually drawn to the opportunity, the brand, and so on, they’re probably not involved in healthy workplace relationships with peers or management. They’ll sometimes follow through on their job responsibilities, and sometimes they won’t. When they don’t, they can’t be bothered to stress about it.
ROAD warriors either need to have converted mindsets or hit the road. I believe wholeheartedly that with enough coaching from their leaders, everyone will either be coached up or coached out. You don’t have to go around firing everyone. What you can’t do is be passive. Building loyalty beyond their paycheck—and to their leadership, companies, and peers—converts ROAD warriors to team players and contributes to a robust culture.
Converting ROAD warriors starts with their direct leadership. People don’t quit on companies so much as they quit on managers. Often, having a good rapport with their leader is enough to keep people motivated on their job. When they feel supported, equipped, empowered, and cared for, they respond by working hard because they don’t want to let down the leader who has invested in and believes in them. This level of loyalty is important, but building loyalty to the company takes it even further.
When the company’s leadership team is accessible and engages with the workforce in real ways, the effect on company culture is invaluable. Modeling the behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs they promote causes a trickle-down effect throughout the department/company.
It doesn’t stop with the manager or top leadership, though. The most loyal and hardworking employees have a sense of camaraderie within their teams. They will work hard when managers aren’t around because they feel loyalty to the person next to them. Give the team a challenge to work toward together—an aggressive but attainable goal such as leading the entire company in sales or customer feedback scores this month, for instance—and incentivize collaboration. Building and fortifying positive team-oriented workplace relationships among peers will keep employees happy and productive like nothing else can.
No one really wants to be a ROAD warrior. It’s unfulfilling on nearly every level to spend the majority of one’s days wasting time, watching the clock, and simply enduring for the sake of a paycheck. Maximize your company’s return on the investment it’s already made in hiring, training, and coaching people by supporting them with a positive, peer-driven culture and inspiring leadership. Once ROAD warriors are converted into employees loyal to their managers, the company, and their peers, they’ll be hitting the road instead—pounding the pavement to drum up new business or take their role/department to the next level.