Jump-Start Your Staff’s
Zest to do Their Best
By Paul Cherry
Rosa, a regional sales director for a Fortune 500 company, met with
her boss, George, there was an undercurrent of anxiety in her
otherwise professional, capable demeanor as she asked, “Tell me,
George, what do you think of Jill?”
Salesperson Jill had been part of Rosa’s team for ten years. Jill
had always struck George as a loyal, dedicated worker, and he didn’t
hesitate to say so. While Rosa agreed, she was concerned. During
Jill’s tenure, their company had been through a host of complex
changes, including a merger, and it seemed to be taking its toll on
Jill. For the last three quarters, Jill’s sales numbers hadn’t been
where they should be, and Rosa was worried that Jill was losing her
competitive edge. “George, I’m just not sure how to approach Jill
about this. What do you think we should do?”
you talked to Jill?” he asked. “Have you asked her how she feels
about her performance?”
nodded. “Sure, I’ve asked Jill plenty of times what’s going wrong,
and how I can help her. She earnestly tells me everything’s going
well, and that she doesn’t need any help. Jill keeps telling me
that she has lots of irons in the fire and I should be patient – but
how long am I supposed to wait for her to get it together?”
managers like Rosa can double as successful motivators, they inspire
their employees to get truly excellent, breakthrough results. There
are as many different ways to inspire employees as there are
managers trying to inspire them! Some managers sweeten the
motivational pot with contests, rewards and bonuses. Others crack
the whip, using threats and punishments to keep their employees “in
line.” The one common theme that runs through all of management,
however, is that most managers don’t ask their employees how best to
motivate them. Instead, many managers end up playing a guessing
game—and often wind up losing.
came to George for advice about Jill. Yet the answers were with
Jill. Most managers rarely ask employees about their motivation
Managers are afraid the employee might ask for additional
resources that the organization can’t provide.
Managers think everyone is motivated by money, or by the same
things that motivate them.
employees don’t know themselves! They’re not in tune with their
own feelings, so they have surprisingly little insight when
asked about their motivational needs.
Managers hope if they ignore the problem, it’ll just go away.
Managers believe employees should motivate themselves.
Managers wish to avoid the issue and any possible confrontation
that might arise.
They’re afraid the employee might quit, and then the manager is
really left in the lurch.
They’re afraid that, as managers, they might be part of the
Managers are so swamped themselves, they just don’t have enough
time to spend with each employee.
just plain don’t know the best questions to ask to motivate
shame, because the solution to any motivation problem can be as easy
as asking your employees the right questions!
don’t necessarily agree on all the different ways people respond to
incentives. However, as managers, we can recognize our employees’
most common needs, learn how to bring out their drive, and steer
that drive to the next level. Most employees want the same things
from their bosses and these “wants” fall into four categories:
Appreciation: Who doesn’t want to feel appreciated?
Whether you’re in a business relationship or a personal
relationship, you want to feel like you and your responses matter to
your partners. Employees want to feel valued by their employers.
They want to know that they’re important and that what they’re doing
has a purpose, a meaning. This goes beyond a paycheck and into your
employees’ emotional needs. Appreciation means that your employees
feel respected and recognized for their efforts.
Guidance: Employees want direction from their bosses. They want
to be clear in their responsibilities and their goals. This gives
employees a sense of security, because they’re not just cogs in a
machine—they know their employers consider their accomplishments
vital. To accomplish this, employers must provide measurable
standards and expectations for each employee’s particular position.
Communication; An employee who isn’t kept in the loop is not
a happy employee! Employees want to feel included in the
decision-making process. In this increasingly unpredictable world,
they want to know what’s going on in their companies and when
changes will affect their jobs. Managers can accomplish this by
“managing expectations” when they ask for employees’ input. This
means that managers should ask an employee’s opinion and make
sure they let the employee know exactly how much weight that opinion
will carry. Example: “I don’t know what top management will
ultimately decide, Josh, but how do you feel about this
Success: Employees want to be on a winning team; who doesn’t?
They want to know they’re moving in a positive direction, and if
they’re not, they want to know what they can do to fix things. No
one wants to be a failure or a disappointment at work. Employees
want to feel they’re having a positive impact on the business.
Obviously, all our employees want to take home the big bucks, but we
don’t always have control over their compensation plans. As a
manager, it’s your responsibility to uncover other ways to make your
employees feel successful.
talking with your employees about what motivates them, and really
listen to what they say. You’ll be able to tailor your
encouragement to each staffer’s needs, jump-starting their zest to
do their best.
Read other articles and learn more
about Paul Cherry.
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