10 Practical Staff Motivation Options : With my 15 years of corporate exposure both as an employee and employer, I have grown to understand the value that comes from staff members when they are motivated. Whenever this term used to be mentioned, all I would start thinking of was that people wanted more money and more money. I had the mindset that it was hard to motivate an employee because my premise or foundation on the subject was based on a definition of motivation that was skewed towards a fraction of what motivation really is. A basic definition of motivation is the reason(s) behind someone’s actions or behavior. Sometimes the reasons are within the person, inside them (intrinsic motivation) while in a number of cases it is a result of what is done to the person (extrinsic motivation). A lot of theories exist behind the subject of motivation. One such theory I have grown to understand it the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which shows the basic motivator as being the need for food and shelter going all the way up in a pyramid to other issues such as self actualization. Some theories do not close the pyramid to signify that you can never arrive at a place where you have full motivated someone. In this article I am giving you practical tools that work.
1. Affirmation & Encouragement – the employee is an emotional being that thrives on being affirmed and supported with encouraging words from colleagues and superiors. It is even more effective if leadership can intentionally speak well of, encourage and provide emotional and psycho-social support that employees need. Sometimes it is one word from a superior and significant person in an employee’s life that fans into flame the attitude and passion to do greater works. Employees need leaders who can believe in them that they too can do it. As a leader, affirm the good things you see in a person. The more you focus on negatives or things the that is all you will see. Soon enough there will be tension on both sides leading to more and more frustration. Affirm the positive and you will realize that the employee will do a readjustment on more areas that you ever imagined.
2. Incentives & Remuneration – This is one of the reasons people give it their all at work. When employees know that their sweat and blood is not in vain but end up boosting their financial or economic status then they feel empowered to conquer the toughest situations. Money answers all things and indeed there is no evil in money. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil. Money can be used positively to encourage and reward good performance and good behavior. You can never satisfy the human being’s quest for money hence from time to time, employees and management have to keep talking about raising remuneration levels to match the employees desired standard of living. Once a certain standard is reached, a new level is desired and it seems like a never ending dog’s chase of its own tail. Give bonuses, 13th cheque, productivity bonuses, profit sharing to name a few incentives that are related to money.
3. Promotion, added responsibility & role clarity – Employees thrive in situations where they are aware of the fact that if they work hard, they have a higher chance of being promoted than if they give a mediocre performance. Most of the time promotion or elevation comes with added incentives and perks but most importantly it comes with added responsibilities. I noticed a change in behavior when I told my driver that over and above his driving chores, he would also handle other administrative duties such as maintenance and servicing of vehicles, staff meals preparation or procurement and banking. Little did I know that this man had been a chef in a hotel before. Just that added responsibility even without necessarily increasing the salary caused this gentleman to fly even higher and his potential was revealed for the benefit of the entire organization.
4. Coaching or mentorship – When leaders take their place, to lead by example as they encourage employees to do as they do not just as they say, motivation kicks in. Leaders by the very nature of the title are supposed to be people that employees look up to. They want to know that in Leader X you are able to learn ABC things. Leaders are mentors and coaches whether they like it or they don’t even know about it. There are things which when done by someone that the employees hold with high regard, the employees naturally feel motivated to do the same things. If a leader comes late to work all the time and they are sloppy in their performance, submitting half done reports and generally untidy in their office, they must look around them. Chances are that the employees have followed suit as they are motivated by what the leader does directly. They watch and learn, watch and mimic what the leader does to a point where they become experts at what the leader models. A leader must realize that their life is a billboard that those below them are reading from and getting inspiration.
5. When there is vision buy-in and clear sense of direction – employees thrive in environments where the vision and direction of the organization are spelt out clearly. They always desire to know which part of the puzzle they play. The vision of the organization will never be achieved if it remains in the heart of the visionary and owner. Chances are that employees will always be frustrated because they think that what they are doing is adequate for the vision they know not realizing that the owner of the business is seeing beyond the present achievements. If the visionary can sell the vision to the employees, he/she will be surprised to see what employees can sacrifice for the good of the vision. When employees are explained to; shown the direction clearly of where the organization is going, they will do all it takes to take the organization there. This will only happen where they know that the success of the vision also points towards their own success as individuals.
6. Staff development and training – This is linked to coaching that leaders do. Over and above what the leader can coach or train, when employees feel that leaders desire for them to be fully empowered through attending seminars and courses relating to their work, they feel even more passionate to work and produce results. I also give praises to my six years with Anglo American Corporation both in the Timber production division and mining sector. The company believed in equipping and empowering people before demanding performance. Human resources personnel always planned and provided platforms for employees to be developed in their management and technical skills at the cost of the organization. There was never a time when employees would be told about being bonded etc. It was never about tying people down but about ensuring people had the right tools to deliver the right result. Sometimes employers desire more than they have invested in employees. Some organizations go as far as giving bursaries to employees or even payback the university fees to those who have studied and passed their exams that are in line with the respective roles they play.
7. Targets and goals – When there is no clear goals and targets set for employees; sometimes they are not well motivated to do big things. Anything they do is seen as excellent in the eyes of the employees while the leader will be more and more frustrated with such performance. Where targets are unclear, guesswork becomes the standard. It is unfair to measure people based on targets they are unaware of. Targets and organizational goals must be communicated to every employee. Usually tied with those targets are incentives already mentioned above where a bonus or profit sharing can be done. It is interesting how employees do not even require supervision when the goals are clear. They become their own supervisors managing their production and time usage. They become even more responsible with the equipment assigned to them knowing that if they cause any loss or damage it affects the performance of the company which in turn has an effect on their own well being.
8. Celebrate the employee’s life – Employees have a life outside of the normal working hours. When management takes time to celebrate the lives of employees, then there is a sense of family and belonging. Employees want to be treated as living beings not just as work objects. Imagine if you as a leader would buy an employee a birthday card and a small cake to celebrate that birthday as a surprise; that would cost you a about US$10 but it will buy you such loyalty and dedication you can never comprehend. An employee is getting married or graduating with a Diploma or Degree and you as the leader get to know about it; throw a party in the office, send a gift. You will transform someone’s life forever. It is of no use talking well of an employee when they die when you didn’t tell them directly what impact they are making while they lived.
9. Show that you care for the employee more than the result – John C. Maxwell, a well known leadership expert, has written well on this matter before concerning the fact that before you can desire person’s hand, touch their heart. Leaders have a responsibility to show love and concern for the welfare of their employees. It is therefore important to pay attention to the SHE issues (Safety, health and environmental issues). You will touch the people’s hearts if you show that you are concerned about the welfare of their families by building them a clinic where they can access free medical care. When you drill boreholes for employee compounds; when you buy employees protective clothing; when you avail ambulance services and a resident doctor on standby, there is such a sense of peace as employees feel well covered. If you love an employee well enough, they will in turn return the love in the form of motivation to do well and keep the employer happy. Love has a bouncing effect where when it is given out it comes back.
10. Recognition of Performance – When someone does well, the best gift you can ever give them is recognition. Good performance must be paraded for others to be motivated towards working hard. Publish results of worker of the month, department of the year etc. Create some healthy competition. You will be shocked how much everyone begins to put in extra hours and extra effort. Have a special day when the company shuts down and during a Christmas Party of any such event you decided as leaders to create, mention some of your key players for the year. Give out certificates of recognition. Give long service awards as reward for loyalty. On thing that will motivate people to work hard is when they observe people who have retired from your organization. Do they look like they lived a good life under you, was their pension a worthwhile.
Rabison Shumba is a young African entrepreneur who has interests in Information and Communication Technology, Agriculture and Mining. He is also a motivational speaker, trainer and author. His book, The Greatness Manual and various online articles are tools for personal and professional development. Together with 100 other Career Experts, Rabison co-authored the 101 Great Ways to Enhance your Career. http://www.greatnessmanual.com or http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/rshumba