Fueling Employees for Top Performance

I had the opportunity to speak at two great events:

Though each audience was different, Fueling Employees for Top Performance was very relevant to both. There a number of concepts I discussed in each session that I wanted to share here.

Good and Challenging Relationships

To kick off each session, I asked audience members to think about the good and challenging relationships they have, both personally and professionally. We defined the good relationships as relationships that leave us feeling comfortable and challenging relationships as those that, for whatever reason, we are not comfortable with. As we discuss the different dynamics that leave us feeling comfortable and uncomfortable with people, we quickly realize each type of relationship is a very personal experience to us and has less to do with the other people. 

Fueling Others with the Right Fuel is a Choice

When talking about fueling employees for top performance, I like to use an analogy of vehicles. I pose the question: What would happen if you accidentally put diesel fuel in a car that is designed to take unleaded fuel? Everyone agrees that the car would experience performance issues, would eventually breakdown, and we would be left with the decision to fix it or get a new car.

This happens to people we work with. As we go through this session, we learn that each of us has a dominant pattern of behavior (DPB) and each DPB has different fuel needs to allow them to live secure and confident lives. When we fuel people with the wrong fuel, like a car, we will experience performance issues, they will breakdown, and we may be faced with the decision to support them or find someone new.

The biggest take away from this section is that, if we were to put the diesel fuel in our unleaded car and there are performance issues, we blame ourselves. However, if we were to fuel people with the wrong fuel and there are performance issues, we blame them. Fueling others is a choice to be made and it starts with us.

We All Judge

You judge. I judge. We judge. We are constantly scanning the world around us and assessing what we are experiencing and measuring it against our expectations and what makes us feel comfortable or uncomfortable. When things meet our expectations and we are comfortable, we're good. When things don't align with our expectations and/or we are uncomfortable, we're not good.

One of our training partners, Tracom Group, suggests we judge in four phases:

  • Image
  • Presentation
  • Competency
  • Feedback

We first judge what we see and assess whether it aligns with our expectations and comfort levels. We then judge a person's presentation or how they communicate. Here we are deciding if we are comfortable with things like their tone of voice, rate of speech, use of hands, and facial expressions. Next, we judge what people are saying. We are deciding if they are credible, reliable, and whether or not we can trust them. Finally, we are having real communication with people and we are assessing how we are working together. 

To truly fuel others for top performance we must control our judgement and recognize what behaviors make us uncomfortable, so we can manage our tension and remain open to working with people, regardless of differences or things that don't align with our preferences.

Dominant Patterns of Behavior and Giving People the Right Fuel

Research shows that people display one of four dominant patterns of behavior, which Tracom Group calls SOCIAL STYLE. This is measured by how assertive or passive we are and how emotionally or controlled we respond to things. Here are the four patterns of behavior and their SOCIAL STYLE:

  • People who are MORE ASSERTIVE and EMOTIONALLY CONTROLLED have a Driving Style.
  • People who are MORE ASSERTIVE and EMOTING have an Expressive Style.
  • People are LESS ASSERTIVE and EMOTING have an Amiable Style.
  • People who are LESS ASSERTIVE and are EMOTIONALLY CONTROLLED have an Analytical Style.

Fuel for Top Performance by Understanding People's Needs


The picture above illustrates how we can identify someone's SOCIAL STYLE and how they communicate. When we start to understand other people’s dominant pattern of behavior, we gain insight into their needs and how to fuel them for top performance. We also understand how they prefer to meet their needs, what raises their tension levels, and how to help them lower their tension level when they become stressed.

Be the Leader You Want to Be

At the end of the day, fueling people for top performance is a decision to be made. It's the commitment to being objective, appreciating that people are different, and sometimes putting our selfish needs for comfort to the side. It's understanding that the more you fuel people correctly, the better off you will all be.

How do you need to BE to fuel your people for top performance?

Jason Kiesau

Jason Kiesau has been studying personal, professional and leadership development for most of his adult life. As the Leadership Developer for Oasis, a Paychex® Company, he travels the country working with leaders in the areas of self-management, relationship building, strategic thinking, and development of high performing teams. Jason's purpose is to inspire confidence in everyone he works with, and he is passionate about helping them pursue and achieve meaningful results.


December 1, 2017

Posted by

Jason Kiesau