The first principle of Gung Ho! Examines the fervent nature of squirrels while they passionately go about gathering nuts to store food for the winter months. They are motivated because they view this as worthwhile for themselves individually and work as a team toward a shared goal. Based on this behaviour, the Spirit of the Squirrel highlights three specific things that need to be in place in an organisations increase its productivity:
- Employees knowing they make the world a better place
- Everyone working toward a shred goal
- Values guiding all plans, decisions and actions
Everyone must be committed to the same clearly understood goal, like the squirrels are committed to gathering seeds to survive the winter. Understanding that their work is worthwhile, gives employees self esteem, which is one of the most powerful human emotions.
This first principle is centered on worthwhile work, within the boundaries of a value set that helps move the organisation toward its mission, vision and goals. Ultimately, no matter how important or menial a task might seem on the face of it, employees are more individual role on the company, their fellow employees, the community and customers.
Even if the goals are initiated by managers, they will become meaningful if they generate commitment from the people who must accomplish them. Having shared goals will help to ensure buying and commitments from team members because people support best that which they help create. The book makes a good point that although compensation and material rewards are necessary and important, ultimately employees are engaged and more productive if they believe in what they are doing, understand their role, and feel that they are an important piece of puzzle.