The Right Way to Motivate Employees

021814_fbnlive_woody_640It’s one thing for a CEO to be passionate and enthusiastic, but there’s a line of professionalism that must always be maintained.

According to a report form technology website Venture Beat, PayPal CEO David Marcus wrote a scathing letter to his employees reprimanding them for not using PayPal products and encouraging them to leave if they didn’t have the passion to use the products they work for.

According to the website, part of the leaked memo reads:

“It’s been brought to my attention that when testing paying with mobile at Cafe 17 last week, some of you refused to install the PayPal app (!!?!?!!), and others didn’t even remember their PayPal password. That’s unacceptable to me, and the rest of my team, everyone at PayPal should use our products where available. That’s the only way we can make them better, and better”.

As an executive, you certainly want your employees using and promoting your products. However, when faced with a situation where workers aren’t embracing what they sell, you need to investigate the root of the problem—not intimidate.

To make things worse he reportedly ended the note with the following:

“In closing, if you are one of the folks who refused to install the PayPal app or if you can’t remember your PayPal password, do yourself a favor, go find something that will connect with your heart and mind elsewhere,”

This situation hints PayPal might have a morale and culture problem, and it’s up to Marcus as a leader to take responsibility– not dole out blame.

When faced with internal problems, good executives start by asking why. They reach out to their executive team first and then to the entire staff to find the root of a problem and how to fix it. Sending out a one-sided note about the problem through a company-wide memo is not leading, it’s retreating.

Leadership starts by listening. Good executives need to get out among the workers and ask questions and listen without judgment or reaction. Often referred to by politicians as a listening tour, the idea of getting out of your inner circle is critical to understanding the realities of what others are dealing with. All too often executives become isolated within their circle of advisors and become detached from the realities of what’s going on.

Marcus should have focused on three questions:

  • Why are you not using the app?
  • What is it that we can do to ensure you use our app?
  • What do you need from me?

The fact that company employees are not embracing and using its products is a failure of leadership that Marcus needs to address by first looking in the mirror. At the end of the day, if his employees have to be forced to use the app, how can he expect consumers to want to willingly pay to use it?

Sebastian's First Birthday PartyMichael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy and the new on-line course The YOU Plan for Career Change on Udemy. Dr. Woody is the founder of Human Capital Integrated (HCI), a firm focused on management and leadership development. Dr. Woody also sits on the advisory board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership. To book Dr. Woody for your next event contact Sue Falcone at or call 1-888-766-3155. 

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