In past columns, I’ve stated that there are five critical elements to human resource management: hiring the best, training the best, communicating the best, motivating the best and compensating the best. This month, I want to concentrate on the importance of motivation.
Supervisors, when was the last time you thought about really trying to “excite” the people in your organization, inspiring them to do their best, take risks, think like entrepreneurs and unleash their limitless potential? This is an important part of your job, and you need to share this challenge with your workers and let them participate in this responsibility.
A manager’s goal – and challenge – must be to create a truly “motivated organization,” one that inspires each employee to do his or her very best every day – particularly when the boss is away or busy.
Recently I was doing a consulting job for a client who operates five showrooms. I was having dinner with the owner and his store managers when I asked the owner how he thought he did in the area of motivation. He said “I think I’m a pretty good motivator.” I turned to the managers and they all gave a thumbs down. The owner was stunned! He knew how to motivate, but was so busy running the day-to-day operation that he didn’t take time to be a good motivator. We talked more about it and came up with a program to help the owner and his managers become better motivators.
Another client called me last week and said team morale was in the tank. Due to the lousy business environment, sales were down, hours had been cut and there was pressure to close a higher percentage of the quotes. Folks were complaining that all of the staff meetings were negative.
The owner had been “pushing” the showroom sales consultants to get out of the showroom and call on tradespeople who might be able to bring in additional business. The salespeople had been slow to respond and the owner was frustrated. The end result was that the team was “down.”
I asked the owner if she was demonstrating any positive motivational actions or was it all, “Things are tough and we have to do better.” The owner replied that while she gave praise when it was due, she had a very hard time giving out “atta boys.” I explained that employees need good strong motivation in both good times and bad. She said, “That just isn’t me.”
I respectfully suggested that she should go back to school on the subject of motivation. Read books on the subject, watch some DVDs, attend a seminar and learn how to become a better motivator.
Most owners and bosses set very high expectations for their employees…and this is fine. They just have to remember that employees are just that: employees. For many (probably most) of them, it’s just a job. They’re working because they have to. This is why making the workplace a fun, warm, inviting, even exciting place to come to every day encourages folks to work harder, smarter and longer.
So just what is motivation? Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Motivation is getting people to do something because ‘they’ want to do it.” Motivation is inspiring people to work – individually or in groups – in ways that produce the best results. It’s learning how to influence people’s behavior.
Some bosses truly are great motivators – day in and day out. Many are not, and these generally fall into two groups: those who know how to motivate but get too busy or forget to do it; and those who just don’t know how.
Learning to be a good motivator is an art and a skill. It must be learned and practiced.
You’ve all heard the term “different strokes for different folks.” This is very true when it comes to motivating employees. We are all different and we all have different needs. The real challenge for every boss is to determine what will motivate each employee. For some it might simply be praise, for others, public recognition, and for others it may be monetary.