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How To Motivate Staff - Is It REALLY Possible To Motivate Your Employees? (Part 2)

  April 15, 2010

So in our last post on how to motivate your staff, we learned some critical components to authentic motivation and what it takes to motivate others. Here are a few for review:

  • companies are baffled at how to motivate their staff as indicated by over 5,500 searches per day about motivating employees
  • the true definition of motivation is the goal or object of a person's actions
  • some actually believe that people can't be motivated
  • The heart of motivation is to give people what they really want most from work. The more you are able to provide what they want, the more you should expect what you really want, namely: productivity, quality, and service." (An Honest Day's Work (1988))

Today then I'd like to focus on the culture of your organization and how vital it is to the motivation of your employees. As always, the following list is not exhaustive, but I would consider these foundational elements in any company looking to motivate it's staff for maximum productivity and results.

Here is a list of things to consider about your culture to get you started in your quest to motivate your staff.

Create A Culture That...

  1. Encourages risk taking.
    Even if the result is a failure that leadership would reward, encourage the risk while sculpting and shaping future risks.
  2. Rewards a job well done.
    Remember here if you remember little else: every person has the desire to be great or to be important. Did you know that George Washington wanted to be called "His Mightiness, the President of the United States"? Or that Columbus pleaded for the title "Admiral of the Ocean and Viceroy of India". Catherine the Great refused to open letters that were not addressed to "Her Imperial Majesty" and even Mrs Lincoln in the White House, turned upon Mrs. Grant and shouted, "How dare you be seated in my presence until I invite you!". NEVER underestimate the power of some recognition, reward and praise. This can be recognition or a simple thank you depending on how monumental it was. Just don't let above and beyond stuff go unnoticed.
  3. Values increased skill and knowledge
    (Hint: enough to pay for it J) Paying for training, conferences, seminars and encouraging the employee to bring things of this sort to the manager's attention shows the employees that you care about them getting better and not getting in a rut or losing your edge. Even to make it a part of the goals for the upcoming year. In my opinion, this is the single best place to put increased funds as it relates to your staff. Some employers aren't sure if the ROI will be there for the training dollars spent and still others are concerned about giving their staff resume building education that they can use to find a better job. Let me assure you that they WILL find a better job if you don't do where their training is valued and paid for. As for ROI, if you are going to cut down a tree would you rather have a sharp saw or a dull one? Point made.
  4. Offers flexible work arrangements.
    This is not the end all be all that most make it out to be these days in HR blogs and trade rags, but it certainly helps you as an employer make the employee want to do what you want by helping them with what they want...namely, flexibility.
  5. Is Open door, open book.
    Access to top leadership and understanding of "how my job and duties helps the company succeed" is absolutely critical to any organization. If you get this one wrong, you can pretty much gurantee your staff will at best not be operating at their maximum potential (or anywhere near it really), and at worst that your turnover, grumbling and bad attitude will be high and your ROI and profit margins will be small. Consider this knowledge of how they contribute and access to top leadership the key fuel for the motivation engine.
  6. Values recruiting the right people for the right job.
    Remember that the right person for the job now doesn't mean they should stay in that position forever. People change over time based on training, life experiences and the level of the position. For an entry level position this may not take nearly as much time to change as it would for a leadership position.

The culture of a company lays the foundation for greatness to occur in all aspects of the business. One of the reasons for this is basic human psychology. As Maslow's theory of motivation (where his hierarchy of needs chart came from) explains when a person's lower and more general needs are not met, they can't/won't act unselfishly. These needs, either low in nature or higher up the hierarchy, motivate us until they are satisfied and then the next highest need takes it's place.

In the next article in this series, we will look at some of those higher needs that only the manager/leader of the employee will be able to address. You will learn how a great leader can...

  • actually transform poor behavior into desired behavior - all without causing embarrassment or resentment
  • literally make their employees WANT the same things the leader wants
  • implement the single most important fact about human relations - get this right and your whole organization will be filled with like minded individuals who all embody the principles you value most

So don't forget to leave comments, questions and concerns. Also we'd love to hear any other on topic suggestions you have from your experiences!

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