Employee Intentions Leaders Need to Know

Employee Intentions Leaders Need to Know image DATE: July 24, 2020

Justin Beiber’s Intentions song reminded me of leadership this week. (Does that mean #Covid19 is getting to me?! Maybe. I’m kidding!) Seriously though, for those of us still showing up to work, we all have different intentions. My question to you as a leader is – do you know each of your employee’s intentions when it comes to work right now?

Employee Intentions Leaders Need to Know

As a leader, it’s important that you have your finger on the pulse of what is changing – what will change – and that you’re taking action in a way that will set yourself and your team up for success. When it comes to your employees, their intentions for showing up to work every day may have changed – especially during the pandemic. Are you aware of the shift?


Intentions Change

Think about this for a moment: Imagine people in Target. To the average observer, because everyone is walking around appearing to be doing the same thing, most would quickly conclude that those pushing a cart around the store are there with the intention to shop. However, if you dig deeper, you’d discover that some people go to Target with a list and some just go for an hour.

Let me say that again in case you were just scrolling: Some people go to Target with a list (and some just go for an hour).

People in the same place, appearing to be doing the same thing, ultimately have different intentions….and the same person’s intentions may change every time they go to that place.

  • I may go to Target on a Saturday morning to enjoy some time alone and with no intention to buy anything.
  • I may go to Target on a Tuesday afternoon to grab a specific list of snacks for my kid’s t-ball practice.
  • During a pandemic, I may not step foot in Target at all.

See what I mean?

Leaders, the same principle applies to the workplace. Everyone has a reason – an intention– for showing up to work right now. And, their intention may have radically changed during this pandemic…and changed not only once, but potentially multiple times!


Potential Intentions

At different times in our lives, we are motivated by different things. When a leader understands what is motivating each individual employee, the leader can then adjust the way they communicate, delegate, and work to motivate each person. When a leader does that correctly, only improved performance will result.

Here are a few different intentions employees may have for showing up to work every day right now:


Let’s face it, everyone works for money. However, some people are only showing up with the sole intention of getting a paycheck.

-Mental Stimulation.

Some employees’ intentions for showing up to work every day right now may be to keep themselves from going crazy during the quarantine.

-Social Interaction.

Some employees may be showing up right now because they need to be around other people instead of being isolated.


Some employees may need to feel part of a positive purpose during a time where everything seems turned upside down and wrong side out.


Intentions Shift

Pre-pandemic, one employee’s intention for showing up to work may have been simply for purpose – to be a part of your mission.

However, during the pandemic, that employee’s spouse may have lost their job and now the employee’s driving motivation is money.

As a leader, if you try to motivate that employee based on their previous intention for working with you (purpose) then you risk losing all the positive momentum you would have gained with them if you instead focused on their intention to provide for their family monetarily.


Leader’s Intentions

So, in order to drive performance on your team, maybe it’s time to have a personal one-on-one conversation with each of your employees to discuss your intention to pay attention to their changing intentions. (Thank you Justin Bieber ;)) Leaders who choose to do the work to adapt their approach accordingly, those will be the leaders who ultimately land on top!


Leaders must take an individualized approach to leadership with today’s workforce. Need help? Let’s talk!


#employeeengagement #employeeretention #leadershipdevelopment #diverseworkforce #adaptabilityskill #emotionalintelligence

About The Author:

Alyson Van Hooser, Leadership Keynote Speaker, Trainer on Millennials, Gen Z & Women in Business With the grit that only comes from tough experiences, Alyson has learned a thing or two about personal and professional success. From her management experience with Walmart, as an elected city council member, bank manager — all before the age of 30 — Alyson has wisdom well beyond her years! Her podcast, Stake: The Leadership Podcast, offers a fresh perspective on leadership and helps multiple generations successfully work together! Connect with Alyson on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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