Corporate leaders at the highest level focus on continu- ous improvement. Managers, therefore, must focus on continuous motivation. Motivating employees must
be a constant, ongoing managerial concern.
When a managers thinks, “How can I get Charley to do his
job better?” he is really asking himself, “How can I better motivate Charley?” Here are seven important ways for achieving that.
ASK FOR PERFORMANCE - Talk to each of your employees and describe your feelings about how well they are doing
their jobs now. Listen carefully to what they have to say and
show your understanding. Then, tell them what your goals
are and how you want their work to be done. If there are
serious objections, or if realistic obstacles to your plan are
identified, work with the employee to modify your goals. But
whatever final goals you agree on, you must get your employee’s commitment to reach those goals.
POSITIVELY REINFORCE - In order to maintain a worker’s
high level of motivation, that worker’s good performance
should be rewarded. Every time there is even a small,
incremental improvement it should be noted, and that
improvement should be reinforced. But what serves as a
reinforcement for one worker will not necessarily be the best
reinforcement for another.
IMPROVE RELATIONSHIPS - Too many managers think
that building a relationship with an employee means becoming their buddies. Relationships are important and managers
should be warm and approachable but always professional.
It’s a narrow line to walk.
Show an interest in each employee, let the employee know
you care about and value him/her, show appreciation for their
work. But when you show interest in an employee’s life, care
must be exercised. You must not cross the line so that the relationship becomes too personalized. Being warm and well liked,
while being strictly professional in your interactions, is a skill
that comes with experience and thoughtful consideration.
LISTEN - It’s simple and it’s complicated; it’s easy and it’s
hard; it’s obvious and easily overlooked. But the best managers know it’s true and have mastered the skill of listening
to their employees. Routinely, they ask for their employees’
opinions before they give directions or offer advice. They
know that workers who are “on the line” best understand
how things are actually accomplished. Effective managers realize that if they listen carefully to what their employees say,
and listen with an open mind, they are much more likely to
get the cooperation they need when they decide that something has to be done differently.
BE A MODEL - A manager who practices "do what I say, not
what I do" is looking for trouble. Like it or not, as a manager, your work attitudes and behaviors will be emulated.
If you approach your own work with a sense of urgency,
so will they. If you use your time efficiently, so will they. If
you persistently and consistently meet the goals you set for
yourself, so will they. You have to show by your actions that
your job really matters and that quality is important and that
deadlines are real.
DON'T ACCEPT POOR PERFORMANCE - We all have
good days and less good days. Some days we’re just stoked,
and everything we do comes out great. Other days, not so
much; it seems like nothing works. When you notice that an
employee is having a bad day and his work is not up to snuff,
let him know that you notice his below-par performance. Of
course, you need to act proportionately. If there are small
mistakes or somewhat lessened productivity, it might be
enough just to say that you notice it and hope that he will do
better tomorrow. If there is a major screw-up, then it has to
be more forcefully dealt with.
If you believe the poor performance is due to a lack of effort, a reprimand might be in order. But if you believe the poor
performance results from a lack of skill, then coaching or further
training is called for. But either way, you're showing that high
level performance really matters and that, in itself, is motivating.
BE FAIR - This is so obvious, it hardly seems worth mentioning. But a lack of perceived fairness can be caused by
fairly subtle things. Inevitably, perhaps because of common
backgrounds or interests or personality styles, you will find
yourself feeling closer to some employees than to others. It
would only be natural, therefore, for you to have lunch with
them more often, or to discuss things with them more often.
But if other employees become aware of this—and you can bet
they will—they will resent it and feel they are seen as second
class. And people who believe they’re seen as second class will
feel discouraged and will not strive to do their best. Perceived
favoritism, whether real or imagined, is a motivation killer.
Are your employees strongly motivated? By following the practices described here you will achieve continuous motivation. That
will produce continuous improvement, the crucial ingredient for a
successful organization—and for success in your own career.
Besides his clinical work and university teaching, Martin Seidenfeld, Ph.D., provides consulting to organizations on management
issues and on managing organizational stress.
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