A lot of managers consider themselves to be experts in the area of employee motivation.
This is because we are all employees of one type or another and so we believe that everyone feels the same way that we do, explains John Sylvester, executive director of motivation and performance improvement agency, P&MM
However, the discipline is actually a subtle mixture of art and science. It focuses primarily on the emotional side of work in order to get results as it is based on the assumption that the basics of life are catered to by ‘hard’ benefits such as salary, pensions and so on.
Sylvester shares five key ways to help us all become staff motivation experts:
1. Know your audience
Research the profile of your target audience (employees) as well as what has gone before. Identify what the barriers to optimum performance are, and using Hertzberg’s conclusions, divide these obstacles into two groups:
- Hygiene factors – salary, company policies, security, relationships with supervisors/subordinates and so on
- Motivators – achievement, recognition, work itself, responsibility and advancement.
If hygiene factors dominate, the best you can hope for is to achieve some kind of short-term promotional gain. While this has its place, don’t kid yourself that you will change the face of working life any time soon because it won’t happen.
If, on the other hand, the motivators top the list, consider it to be a green light and continue. A good ‘lifestyle’ profile will help you to select the right reward options in due course.
2. Set objectives
Set good, smart business objectives from the outset. If these aims do not define precisely how your initiative will provide incremental bottom line benefits such as increased revenues, reduced costs or improved margins, start again.
3. Set achievable goals
Devise a clear strategy to ensure performance improvement, but be clear about where you will be able to get your biggest wins. Your top performers will already be doing all they can and won’t have much more to give, but they should be targeted for high-profile recognition awards.
So focus on the next group down and provide a hierarchical structure of opportunity to ensure that early goals are realisable within a realistic time frame.
4. Select the right rewards
All of the research that you did at the start should provide some guidance as to the reward and recognition options that are likely to appeal to your key target groups. All you have to do is find the right key to unlock their potential.
The real disappointment is that no single key will fit all of the locks. But look for recognition options that offer something unique and exclusive and reward propositions that are flexible and broadly target your audience…and are not paid through people’s salary.
Do not underestimate the importance of communication. In the majority of cases, your target audience will be passing on your product messages and brand values to customers.
So take advantage of this opportunity not only to inform staff about your rewards and their progress towards gaining them, but also to reinforce your brand values. But it is likewise vital to let your audience know both what you want them to do as well as how you want them to do it.
Getting this right will mean that all of your investment in brand marketing does not go up in smoke as soon as your employees interact with customers. But be sure to repeat these messages at regular intervals in order to ensure that your motivation strategy remains in tune with your audience and continues to deliver on business objectives.