Managers have the difficult task of promoting the company’s agenda while at the same time caring for the personal needs of their staff. They have to get the most productivity out of employees, for the company to earn more profits, and yet at the same time see that staff are treated fairly and are personally fulfilled at work. The ‘company’ as an entity has no emotional capacity or people skills – it exists for the purpose of making profits – or at least that’s how it’s been for a hundred years; however, more and more in recent times there is a move toward a new philosophy where people, communities and Earth itself are all equally important shareholders in the company, and the board of directors are not a pantheon of Gods anymore. The old-school manipulative techniques of “you’re fired” and “don’t challenge me – I pay your salary” don’t fly anymore; in fact you’re likely to get hauled over the coals at the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) for even thinking about being so stupid. In short, the world is evolving and so must managers, supervisors, team leaders, directors and bosses. We need to understand how to get the best out of our people before we’re going to get the best out of our company. We need to start paying attention and caring.
Motivating employees is not the job of the “HR guy” or the external therapist; it’s not even the job of the manager or team leader – it’s everyone’s job. As we all start applying motivational principles at work, the motivational water table is raised and everyone benefits. Here are some tips for raising the motivational level at your workplace:
1. Have a regular “Barrel” session.
This is something I picked up from my ministry days, although few churches ever used it effectively. Imagine a wooden barrel made of staves and held together by metal bands. Imagine that some staves are short and others long, i.e. the top of the barrel is irregular. Now imagine pouring water into that barrel. If you continue to keep pouring water, after a while the water will overflow – at the shortest stave. No matter how much you keep pouring, the water level in the Barrel will never be higher than the shortest stave. Imagine the staves are critical success factors for your business and the water is the success (profits included). Have a weekly Barrel session with your team to “score” each stave of your business and then focus on improving the shortest stave – in this way you will raise the success level of your business. Let everyone get involved in the process, from the lowly receptionist to the uber-exec. Motivation starts by making people feel they’re included. PS: If you’re not sure where to start with this let me come and facilitate your first session.
2. Colorize your environment.
Nobody wants to work in a sterile, grey institution. Bring some life into the place with plants, paintings (not those sickening ‘motivational’ posters) and interesting furniture. Also, do a survey on what your employees think about their uniforms! Some corporate attire is worse than Afrikaans school uniforms. Get someone in who understands fashion and give your staff options for looking reasonable and professional at the same time. Funk up your corporate logo too.
3. Get rid of dumb incentive schemes
Incentive schemes that have your employees working twice as hard for an extra R100 at the end of the month will cause enormous dissatisfaction. Don’t link your performance management systems to financial incentives because all you’ll get in your performance interviews is everyone lying about how they’ve performed. Nobody is going to tell you what’s going wrong if they think it will impact their salary. Implement a performance management system that focuses on self development and the achieving of personal dreams, with an emphasis on coaching, and watch employee attitudes improve!
Talk to your people. Start the day with a focus session and deal with concerns as they arise. Deal with difficult situations one-on-one. If you have expectations then communicate them – only Stone Age managers think “they should know how to do that, it’s just common sense”.
5. Administrate your motivational plan properly
Many businesses administrate the more technical HR elements like salary, leave, employment records etc; but they don’t keep track of the stuff that really counts like your employees’ dreams and personal development. Managers should know where their people are ‘at’ and during regular coaching sessions should be monitoring the personal progress of each employee in their care. Keep secure records for this and please abide by the prevailing personal information security laws and standards.
6. Put the right people in the right places
Many people seem rebellious and contrary at work simply because they’re doing something that doesn’t fulfill them or suit their personality style. It is critical to get a sense of your employees’ GHAPE (gifts, heartbeat, abilities, personality and experience). In this way you will be able to assess whether you have a noisy extrovert dying behind piles of data capturing or a shy perfectionist trying in vain to motivate your sales force. PS: I can help you with this too!
I would love to hear stories of your motivational journey at work. What’s working for you? What’s de-motivating your staff? The more feedback I get the more useful I can be in my upcoming articles.