By Brad Burton, Director of SpeakerSeeker.
So often, I hear people say that they don’t “have” motivation, as if it’s some external force which just happens to you, and if you don’t have it, well, there’s nothing you can do.
I was an award winning marketer four years ago, when I quit my job. This would set me in good stead, right? I would start my own business and the leads would come flooding in, right?
Wrong. I spent the next few months sitting in the spare room in my underpants, faffing around, making tea and aggressively waiting for the phone to ring. The wife would phone: “How’s it going?” “Fine,” I would reply. “Lots of irons in the fire.”
But eventually, (imaginary) irons in the fire weren’t enough to pay the mortgage and my wife insisted I get a job, any job. She pointed out an ad for a pizza delivery boy in the paper. So that’s how I, an award-winning markerter, ended up delivering pizzas for £6 per hour on a Friday night.
Now, you don’t find out what you’re made of until reach rock bottom. I could have wallowed in self-pity. And, for a while, I did. But, one night, as one of my few marketing clients opened the door to find me, with moped and wielding a pizza, I realised that this was not a durable strategy. I had to make it happen.
I still carry a pizza box today – it reminds me of where you can end up if you allow that motivation to slip away from you. You see, motivation isn’t something which strikes you from above: it’s something you decide upon, a path you choose to follow.
Now, I help other people to choose the motivated path (sounding like a preacher is unintentional!), and I know that, when it comes to getting staff motivated, money is really low down the list of priorities.
More important to people than increased financial reward is a sense of appreciation or value, so, rather than (or as well as) showing them the money, find ways to engage with staff that shows them this.
My mantra is meet, like, know, trust. Obviously you’ve already met your staff, but the other three are crucial in getting your team to work for you. Alright, you can’t force someone to like you, but you can create conditions in the workplace which make life easier for you and your colleagues. These are some of my tips for getting your workforce motivated and ticking over like a well-oiled machine.
1. Trust your staff
As your business grows, it’s inevitable that you have to let go of the reins, so you have to have faith in the people around you. Good personnel will respond to responsibility in a positive way and you will be rewarded.
If you don’t trust them, get rid of them. What’s the point in having staff you can’t trust? This may seem counter-productive, but it will be for the best in the long run.
2. Embrace the internet
Akin to trusting the people that work for you. Don’t switch off the internet or block certain sites. Let’s get real here: your staff will use the internet, and if you do manage to use the IT department to curtail Facebook, Twitter or Myspace it will just manifest itself in different ways.
I advise the companies I work with to harness the power of the world wide web and view it as a benefit, not a threat.
3. Communication, communication, communication
I’ve seen so many businesses that view appraisals as an unnecessary distraction. Never underestimate their power. Create a regular and structured appraisal system, which is much more than a token gesture chat and provides an environment for all parties to give feedback.
Use them to give both praise and administer areas for improvement and set objectives for the next one. Staff really do take something away from these, so don’t take them lightheartedly.
4. Give them ownership
OK, it’s your company, but don’t just act unilaterally. Talk to your staff about the direction the business is taking and ask their opinion on decisions, or give them a hand in making them. This gives them a personal stake in the company’s success.
5. Treat everyone the same – nice
As the boss, you’ll inevitably have to make some difficult decisions and you may not always be the most popular person in the office! But always treat everyone respectfully and they should do the same.
6. Value people
Show your staff their value to your business. This could be through rewards, such as team days out or taking them for lunch, or just little treats for the office like cakes or desk-based massages. If resources are tight, just tell them.
Feeling under-appreciated is one of the biggest factors in personnel becoming de-motivated and leads to poor morale and ineffectiveness. Never become complacent where this is concerned.
7. Say yes to social networking…
That’s the one without the computer!
A close-knit team benefits everyone. People are more inclined to get out of bed in the morning if they like the people they work with, and staff that enjoy working together work better together, resulting in increased productivity. So encourage social occasions and a sense of fun in the office.
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