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Staff Motivation: Creating A “Do For” Culture

SummaryStaff motivation does not occur as a result of anything you do to or with or about employees. Staff motivation occurs because of what you Do For employees.The Motivation SecretRead the next sentence very carefully. Staff motivation is a consequence. That reality is rarely mentioned. Motivation occurs as a result of something else. Issues such as rewards and incentives, recognition, job satisfaction, inspirational leadership and the rest are details that reinforce the consequences. They are important details: but details nevertheless.A Staff Contribution CultureTo develop highly motivated staff, you need to create a particular culture: a culture of staff contribution and participation. Only a manager can do this. Such a culture enables staff to contribute demonstrably to business success.Until you establish this culture, you’ll never be free to manage successfully. You’ll always be doing work that your staff should do.When staff become successful contributors you can use rewards and incentives, and various other recognition devices to support their successful contribution. But these devices of themselves won’t create highly motivated staff. You must create the culture to take full advantage of them.Once you establish the culture of contribution and participation you can take the next step: establish a culture of staff autonomy. A culture where staff are given freedom to operate without supervision.Famous Brazilian manager, Ricardo Semler puts it this way. “As a leader my job is to motivate them to go home proud of their work.”A New PerspectiveDo you want highly motivated employees? If so, what can you do to make them “proud of their work”. I mean “proud”: not boastful or conceited but proud in the sense that they know they’ve done well for themselves, their colleagues and the business.Forget “Pep” TalksStaff don’t need pep talks, speeches and “rev ups”. They need guidance, information, encouragement, support, autonomy, responsibility, clear goals and the freedom to achieve and contribute positively to the business.Studying MotivationGurus and academics have been studying “motivation” for decades. In 1932 a famous study commenced at the Hawthorne works of the Western Electric Company. The results are still discussed today.Maslow, McGregor and HerzbergIn 1943 Abraham Maslow, proposed the Hierarchy of Needs. He suggested that human needs ranged from survival needs such as food and shelter as a foundation to “self-actualization” as the highest form. It’s been widely applied in corporate motivation applications.In the 1960′s Douglas McGregor of the MIT Sloan School of Management proposed that employees reacted to how managers perceived them. It became known as Theory X, Theory Y.Frederick Herzberg published “One More Time, How Do You Motivate Employees?” in 1968. He suggested people are influenced by what he called motivation factors and hygiene factors. It became known as Two Factor Theory. Herzberg became a very influential person in business management.There are many other theories and approaches. Studies continue. Gurus make new recommendations frequently. The jury is still “out”. But studying “employee motivation” isn’t new.The Issue Is “How”These studies and many like them suggest alternatives to the “to them” approach. The problem is “how”. Most attempts to motivate staff are behaviour based. It’s one thing to talk about employee engagement, empowerment and participation. It’s another to determine “how” to create it.The Motivation Mindset QuestionLike so many other issues in management, motivation is a mindset. At the core of this mindset is the question. “What can I do for my staff so that they’re proud of their work and their contribution to improvements to my business? What can I do to ensure that they see themselves as major contributors to business success?”Giving To” v. “Doing For”It’s a simple process. It revolves around two simple questions. “What do I want from them?” “What do I need to give them so that they can give me what I want?” There’s no “oughta” here. Don’t say “they oughta be motivated because of what I offer them.” That won’t motivate anybody.Commonality With MarketingSteve Jobs is regarded as an outstanding marketer. But he didn’t undertake customer surveys. He tried to anticipate what clients expected and provide it for them. Most people have forgotten that Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple to design a home computer. There was no demand for such a machine at the time. We all know where that led them… and the rest of the world “What can I provide?” is a very important question in both motivation and marketing.Misled By MaximsYou’ll never create highly motivated employees by rattling off maxims like “Good training doesn’t cost, it pays”, “Staff are our most important asset”, “We cannot succeed without good people”, “Our people are our lifeblood”. These are nothing more than trite slogans. They may or may not be true. They are no substitute for actually achieving improved business results through superior staff management.A Core Business IssueMotivation is a business improvement and sustainability issue. Without “highly motivated” staff, you can’t have a truly successful business. But that means that motivation is more than “just a people matter”. It’s a core business issue.Challenges To Conventional WisdomThe Do For approach challenges many conventional wisdom about staff performance. Please remember…
Unless you’re a qualified psychologist, don’t try to “get inside their heads”: seek to “engineer” performance rather than coerce and manipulate employees
Employees take far more notice of what you do than what you say: “showing” will always work far more effectively than “telling”
You need effective teams more than you need effective individuals
Employees do not have to relate well to each other in order to work together effectively
Training, of itself, will not improve performance. Training is essential. But well trained staff don’t automatically lead to high performing staff
Staff need to be well informed about business issues. Lack of information stifles enthusiasm about effective performanceThe Essential Do For 1. Have a clear business focus and a narrow, specific target market. Employees must know exactly what you’re trying to sell and who you’re trying to sell to.2. Make very clear to employees the precise performance goals you expect them to achieve and how you’ll measure their success.3. Establish systems that will virtually guarantee that staff will be able to reach the performance goals. Give employees the authority and autonomy to modify the systems to achieve the goals.4. Provide the resources necessary to build effective systems.5. Build effective feedback mechanisms into your systems so that employees will be able to measure their own performance and provide you with the information you need for business management purposes.6. Work towards an overall system that enables employees to effectively operate the business on a day to day basis without your intervention except in very unusual circumstances.Rewards And IncentivesYour rewards and incentive systems cannot be effective unless they support your “Do Fors”. The “Do Fors” constitute the basis upon which to set rewards and incentives. But without the systems your rewards and incentives will merely be window dressing at best and demotivating at worst.Demotivation By IncentiveA client consulted me about an incentive scheme that wasn’t producing the expected positive results. It was a generous scheme. I discovered that to earn the incentive, the workers concerned had to work at such a furious pace that
they made major demands on their co-workers’ co-operation,
they were forced to work in conditions so uncomfortable that it was painful to stand up straight at the end of the shift.I see similar problems where the same salespeople repeatedly win sales prizes, largely because their territory contains predominantly long-standing, loyal and supportive customers.The Contribution Culture PerspectiveThe Do For approach makes a clear link between staff motivation and business results. The purpose of having highly motivated staff is to produce better business results. This connection must be clear to both managers and staff.This means that as manager, you need to see your business differently.Your staff are effectively you business partners
Utilizing the skills, insights, experience and opinions of your staff will create greater business success
If you want to fully utilize staff insights you must keep them fully informed
You need systems that encourage staff to make suggestions, offer opinions and develop appropriate skills and systems for you to consider
Your job is to determine business focus and target market, set performance goals and standards and let staff “get on with” meeting goals
You may need to change the organization structure and responsibilities in your business to make the Do For approach work for you
Do For requires an ongoing commitment to less formal management control and more staff responsibility and control. It’s not a temporary measure to meet an emergency.The Employee PerspectiveWhen you practice Do For motivation, you’ll create a workforce that
readily offers their opinions and insights
expects to share the benefits of business success
values their role because of their enhanced contribution
requires greater freedom to act autonomously and independently
has high expectations of the performance of their co-workers
may need some mentoring and advice as they learn to develop themselves.Above all, they’ll be far more committed to their own effectiveness and business success. They’ll be “highly motivated”.ConclusionPlease allow me to remind you of what Ricardo Semler said. “As a leader my job is to motivate them to go home proud of their work.” Semler is an extraordinarily successful business manager. We should take notice of what he says.