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Commentary: It’s A Matter Of Pride

Co-authors John Passante and Kristen Whitsett of MotoRad discuss the role of pride in employee engagement.

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By Dr. John A. Passante, president and CEO The Organizational Development Group, Inc. and Kristen Whitsett, MSM, director of Sales, MotoRad

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In a 2016 Gallup Employee Engagement Survey, 87 percent of employees were disengaged, costing companies up to $550 billion (with a “b”) in annual productivity losses. Roll that number around in your mind. 

Conversely, companies in the top 25 percent of employee engagement experience the following:

  • 10 percent higher customer loyalty experience
  • 21 percent higher profitability
  • 20 percent higher sales profitability
  • 40 percent less employee absenteeism

I submit that there is a direct correlation between employee engagement and employee pride. Pride involves self-respect and delight. A job well done fills us with pride. Helpful pride is making a positive contribution to your organization. Personal and professional pride motivates us to do more. It is paramount that leaders remember that all employees count and play a valuable role in contributing to the success of the company. Leaders instill pride by:

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  • Encouraging employees to look beyond their current role
  • Cross-training
  • Giving them purpose
  • Articulating clear expectations
  • Painting a picture of how employee work assignments complement the greater whole (they connect the dots)
  • Making the company come alive

Of course, there is a negative side to pride, which is conceit and disdainful behavior. Hubristic pride is defined as exaggerated pride or self-confidence. This occurs when one’s accomplishments are associated with innate greatness. “I am successful because I am great.”  

As in the story of the tortoise and the hare, the hare most certainly would have won the race if he had not been so arrogant. 

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This can have a severely negative impact on a business as hubristic pride presents itself in ways such as never admitting that you are wrong and not being able to apologize when you make a mistake. A person who is too proud will have trouble asking for help or admitting that they do not have an answer. This destroys trust in the workplace and can lead to hostile working environments. Leaders can work to counteract conceit and disdainful behavior by: 

  • Encouraging performance reviews not only from their direct manager but also from their peers. (A common practice at Amazon)
  • Speaking to their direct reports with candor; talk to the arrogant in a patient and productive way. Share with them specific examples and areas of improvement. 
  • When this employee opens up to you, listen intentionally, as they may have needed to process the deeper cause for some time.

We all seek to be validated and appreciated, which gives us pride and makes us feel worthwhile. Pride is essential to the success of any organization. Pride turns people on and fosters a spirit of positive energy and good employee morale. Pride is a verb: action required! It gives us deep satisfaction and builds our self-confidence and a healthy self-image.

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Outwardly focused pride exists from the satisfaction of the accomplishments of others, a moment of shared positive pride. Each day, we work to earn the right to be proud. Pride is a powerful influencer of self and of others.

“Ability may get you to the top, but character will keep you there”

– John Wooden

Our quest is to take pride in our actions. Pride is a call to action for each of us to live, lead and teach by nurturing pride in ourselves and in others. It is key to remember that it is important for pride to be paired with humility, and that we all learn together. Authentic pride is a greater desire to help others by sharing our experiences, both good and bad. None of us are experts in all areas, and we cannot be great in everything. We make it through the day by depending on each other. Helpful pride is a virtue, not a vice. We do more when we appeal to our sense of pride. It is a feeling of accomplishment, a strong emotion, a motivator! It gives us a road map to a purposeful life and career.

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