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Motivating employees

Numerous approaches to employee motivation and team building exist, but the following guide echoes many of our own philosophies and, as such, is something we invite you to read.

1. Motivation is an inside job

The three C’s of Intrinsic Motivation

Collaboration
People feel more motivated to work hard when they are inspired to cooperate, when they have an opportunity to succeed. If you eliminate obstacles that hold individuals responsible for the success or failure of a project you create an environment that encourages natural motivation and team spirit.

Content
People feel more motivated to work hard when they can appreciate how and what they are doing contributes to the work community. If you help your employees take interest and pride in their work, you’ll find the investment to be worthwhile. It’s even better if you can match the job to the employee.

Choice
People feel more motivated to work hard when they feel empowered to make decisions about their work. Find ways to allow and encourage your employees to make decisions and provide them with the support and tools they need to do their work.

2. Intrinsic motivation and creating a bond with the organization

It is a fact of human nature that people are always motivated. The question is: what are they motivated to do? The key is to create an environment where team members are motivated to do a great job. Such an environment can occur when any of the following values are put into place:

•    Build self-esteem in others by complimenting them on good work
•    Ask for input, then do something with it
•    Let employees share responsibility for improving work process and train them to do this
•    Appreciate the quiet workers, as well as the extroverts
•    Share your vision and ask for ideas from others
•    Teach others how to do things themselves and encourage them to do so
•    Tie raises to performance, not to seniority
•    Allow and encourage lateral moves
•    Encourage problem solving, and support the solutions employees come up with
•    Show that employees’ efforts are meaningful by explaining how their work adds value to the       organization
•    Interact and communicate with people
•    Give employees something to be excited about

3. Manager’s checklist

•    People are motivated to do what they believe is in their best interest
•    You can’t motivate another person. You can only influence what he or she is motivated to do       and, as a Manager, you’re going to influence that motivation, whether positively or negatively
•    People talk about motivation as being intrinsic or extrinsic. But it’s really only intrinsic, within       each of us. What we call extrinsic motivation is really just external factors that effect our       intrinsic motivation
•    Remember the three C’s: of motivation: collaboration, content and choice
•    The three forms of motivation that managers use most often are: fear, incentives, and the       opportunity for personnel growth. The first two can undermine motivation to perform. The last       can help you encourage your employees to feel motivated to perform at high levels.

4. Working with human nature

Why, What, When and How Things Happen

Sometimes we just can’t understand some people! What they do may surprise us. What they don’t do may disappoint us. What they do in unexpected ways my frustrate us. The following concept theories analyze possible reasons for certain behaviour:

Theory X
•    Work is inherently distasteful
•    The average person is lazy and not ambitious
•    People prefer close supervision
•    Typical workers avoid responsibility
•    The principal worker incentive is money
•    Workers must be coerced or bribed to achieve the organization’s goals

Theory Y
•    People enjoy work
•    Work is as natural as play
•    Recognition and self-fulfillment are as important as money
•    Employees are committed to their work
•    Employees exercise self-direction and seek responsibility
•    Workers at all levels will exhibit creativity and ingenuity when given the chance

Control-oriented Manager (Theory X approach)
•    Makes decisions without the input of others
•    Maintains control
•    Is confident in the validity of his or her views
•    Is goal-orientated and sometimes demanding
•    May use pressure to achieve objectives
•    May use discipline with those who don’t do the job correctly
•    Acts decisively and can confront poor performance
•    Expects no criticism from the team

Empowerment-oriented Manager (Theory Y approach)
•    Makes decision by consensus and helps others feel “ownership”
•    Encourages creativity and initiative
•    Coaches others and effectively facilitates the work of others
•    Leads by example
•    Gives recognition for work done well
•    Helps people grow in their work and gain more responsibility
•    Values and encourages teamwork

Assume the best

The assumptions you make about employees motivations to perform affect how you interact with them. Assume the best about people, act on that and they’ll usually respond in kind. Sometimes, of course employees will need you to give them detailed directions on a task. Offer them a positive, supportive attitude and you can expect that employees will listen and do what you ask – and do it right.

Know what drives people

Watch people doing their jobs. What turns them on or off? How do they prefer doing things? Give them the opportunity to use their own methods as long as are compatible with effectively getting the job done.
Set up employee focus groups to find out what they would like from their work. Have them brainstorm ways to make work more fulfilling. Then don’t forget to act on their suggestions.
Acknowledge that everyone is unique. Inquire about a person’s special talents and skills. You might uncover a diamond in the rough.
Send out an employee survey about attitudes in the workplace and their suggestions for improvements. Don’t ignore the results. Use the findings to make changes that will improve everyone’s working condition, including yours.
Conduct exit interviews with employees who leave voluntarily. Use what you learn to create a work environment that people won’t want to leave.
Assume that personal growth and recognition, creativity and meaningful work are as important to your workers as they are to you. Ask employees to describe their ideal job and what they like or don’t like about their work.

5. If the team fights the system or withdraws, action needs to be taken

1 Invite your employees to meet with you to discuss the situation
2 Let them tell you their perceptions and feelings. What problem(s) have they perceived? Sure, you may know it already, but they need to be involved from the start. Besides, what if you have missed or misinterpreted something?
3 Ask them to suggest ways to improve the situation. Welcome any and all suggestions, no matter how unrealistic they appear, for two reasons: A, you want to encourage open thinking, so you’re not just reaching to a problem, but thinking in terms of the big picture. B, if the problem requires action, its probably already caused a lot of negative feelings – and a forum can help everybody to express and vent those feelings.
4 Decide together on the best solution. Seek consensus in doing this. “Best” here may mean easiest or most practical or ideal , depending on your situation. Or it may mean several solutions.
5 Determine who will take charge of the solution. Don’t volunteer: let your employees decide. If they want to take charge, you should accept only if you don’t empower one or more of them to do so. But you should also involve a few of them: this is a shared action, a collaborative project.
6 Set a schedule. Who will be doing what and by when?
7 Schedule a meeting to evaluate the effects of the action.
Checklist
Think in terms of the “whole system”. Every organization is a complex social and mechanical system, with dynamic connections among forces and patterns. Factors above and beyond your immediate work area substantially influence the motivation of your employees.
Never underestimate the impact of social interaction on the business system.
Managers appreciate employees who can adapt to the system. But remember that adapting is stressful for most.
If there are restraining forces undermining the motivation of your employees, consider working with your employees to change the system, to remove or reduce these forces.
Don’t sub-optimize the system. Provide resources, responsibilities and rewards, and respect your employees need to do their jobs better, but from a systems perspective. Territorial attitudes hurt the organization, as actions to improve the situation in one area often make the situation worse in other areas.
Think and act in terms of the greater good of the system .That way, you and your employees will help the entire organization achieve optimal results.
People – and you as a manager, may pay the price in terms of the effects on employees’ motivation and performance.

6. The 12 Cornerstones for building hope and trust in an organization

1 Respect your followers
Forget about job titles and pay differences and recognize the basic equality of all people. Respect is built on a mutual understanding between you and your employees. All have a stake in the organization’s future and success.
2 Watch how you say it
Cultivate a calm and considered approach. Voice tone is critical. Also, timing can be crucial: your words will be interpreted according to the context. How, when and where you say something can actually be more imported than the message itself.
3 Do what you say you’re going to do
Be short on promises and long on fulfillment. Your credibility is at stake. Unfortunately many mangers say one thing and do another. Use your position to built credibility among your employees and to increase their faith and hope in the organization.
4 Communicate openly
The best way for you to build trust is to communicate openly with your employees. Let people know what’s going on! Make announcements in meetings, send faxes & e-mails, use bulletin boards, or publish a newsletter. Just be open and consistent, sharing information as it becomes available and inviting questions and comments from your employees.
5 Listen and don’t argue
Listening speaks louder than words in conveying respect and trust. It says you care. Listening doesn’t mean necessarily agreeing. Agree to disagree, if you must. And when you disagree, do so without being disagreeable: maintain your respect for one another. If you don’t understand or agree with someone, ask more questions. Find out where the other person is coming from. Be patient and considerate.
6 Avoid the zingers
Zingers, digs, or put downs generally aren’t funny. In fact they may just reveal insecurity and a lack of caring on your part. Be sensitive about your employees’ feelings.
7 Point out the positive
Notice the good things about people and talk about them. That rewards their efforts and encourages them to try even harder.

8 Appreciate what others have to say
Show people that you value their perspectives – especially if they differ from yours. View a conversation not as a chance to express your views, but as an opportunity to find out how others think and feel. If you focus on asking rather than on telling, you will be amazed at what you learn.

9 Acknowledge that trust is a mutual exchange
Don’t expect others to trust you more than you trust them. If you treat people as if you are unsure of their trustworthiness – if you don’t let them take on more responsibility, make decisions, or use authority – then how can you expect them to trust you in return? Trust flows both ways and not necessarily better uphill. Remember the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
10 Gradually increase trust
Trusting your employees doesn’t happen overnight. Your trust in people builds over time and on the basis of their behaviours. Employees will gradually earn your trust when they do as they promise and follow up on their commitments. The more their behaviour reassures you, the more you begin to trust them. You earn the of the employees the same way.

11 Be truthful with yourself
Do you believe in what you are conveying to others? Are you true to yourself, leading by example and doing the right thing in accordance with your values?You can’t be a good manager if you acting in ways that are inconsistent with who you are. In fact you’ll only be a poor model for your employees, inspiring them to wear masks of their own.

12 Show your human side
Share your mistakes, your hopes and your dreams, be down to earth and straightforward with people. Don’t hide your mistakes or try to find excuses. Employees will respect and appreciate your honesty and humanity.

Proverbs

It is with the heart that one sees rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye. — Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince