Browse Month: June 2009

The Workplace Motivation Message is Simple

Recently I attended a function where I observed two mothers trying to control their exuberant young children with totally different results.

The first mother was clearly exasperated by the unruly behavior of her young children. For the entire hour she told them: “Don’t be so naughty.” “Don’t run away.” “Don’t kick the door!” “Don’t hit your sister.” “Don’t make so much noise.” And all of her instructions resulted in more and more of each behavior she chastised them about.

She was struggling, and the children were clearly not used to being at an event where they needed to sit quietly and pay attention. They didn’t know what to do or how to do it, so they entertained themselves. And they did it very well, even if it embarrassed their mother.

There were times when the second mother needed to address her young children’s behavior too. But she did it differently and with a very different result.

She drew her children’s attention to the program and pointed to what was happening on stage. She quietly explained where to look, why things were happening and encouraged them to participate when it was appropriate. She showed them how to not just listen, but to watch and listen carefully, so they would hear particular things.

In other words, she focused on telling her children what they should do, rather than what not to do. And it was clear that as her children steadily began to learn what was going on and how to be a part of it, they even began to enjoy it.

Now I’m not suggesting that her children were perfect – there were times they were distracted too – but by the end of the function it was clear they learned a lot about how to participate in such an event. They had been shown what was expected of them and what to do, rather than just being told what not to do.

So, what does this story have to do with workplace motivation, you ask?

Well first let me share another quick story with you… A few days ago a friend commented that her husband had come home from work happier than she had seen him in ages. It turns out that something exceptional had happened. For the first time in many years his boss had commented on his work, and the feedback was what a great job he always does. (And yes, you read that right – for the first time in many years…)

Do you see a pattern related to motivation in the workplace here? Managing people (employees or young children) can be challenging, time consuming and, at times, stressful. When you don’t offer any feedback, even the best people feel demotivated and taken for granted. If the feedback you offer is always negative or corrective, without any guidance about how to do what is required, it will do little to motivate people or improve results.

It’s easy to expect good work from people and take it for granted when you get it. But when good work is not acknowledged in the workplace, motivation shrivels up and even your best workers begin to produce the minimum acceptable results rather than their best work.

The workplace motivation message is simple: Focus on showing people what you expect of them in a positive way and notice when they do what you want.

For more ways to improve employee performance and boost workplace motivation check out this powerful tool: from Kerrie Mullins-Gunst.

Kerrie specializes in helping leaders and managers develop all the skills they need to mentor manage and lead.

Workplace Motivation for Leaders

I recently heard a story about a certain manager who argued that his role had nothing to do with motivating people.  Workplace motivation, he said, was the job of the Human Resources department!  

I know you won’t be surprised to hear that I disagree.  What’s more, workplace motivation is one of the significant issues raised by many good managers, business owners and team leaders today. 

Leading a motivated team is not only more productive, you will find it much more enjoyable and rewarding too.  Poorly motivated employees rarely function well as a team, and typically generate more stress for you than they do results.  So good leaders consider the impact of their actions on workplace motivation carefully. No one wants a demotivated workplace producing barely adequate outcomes and a stressful situation.  

Here are three simple yet effective ways you can boost workplace motivation and morale: 

1. Offer a Reward

Rewards are motivating.  And although money is one type of reward, it is far from the only reward you can use. Frequently it’s not even the best reward to offer.  Exactly what rewards are most appropriate will vary from person to person and according your particular situation, but here are some ideas to consider.  

For many people coaching them to develop new and better skills is a powerful and motivating reward. Encouragement, recognition, more trust or a promotion or new work title may be motivating to some of your people.  Likewise, for some more overtime, less travel, a special project or development opportunity or flexible work hours may help boost workplace motivation.  Once you start to think about it, and get to know your people well enough to know what they would appreciate, you will be able to think of a whole range of motivating rewards that are appropriate in your situation.  

2. Listen to People

Everyone likes to feel that their input and opinion is valued, respected and considered.  It takes only a moment – and an open attitude – to welcome input from each individual on your team. 

Ask for their views and input.  Be genuinely willing to listen to people and you will see an amazing response from previously demotivated staff.

3. Lighten up a Little

Motivated employees enjoy their work.  Numerous studies have shown that people work harder, not less, when the workplace is a fun, happy and enjoyable place.  

As leader, you get to set the tone for a happy workplace.  Take a moment to smile at people and ask after their family, hobbies or interests.  Encourage some team social activities.  Take the team out for coffee or bring in a cake to celebrate an achievement.  

We spend many hours each day in the workplace.  Part of your role as the leader is to ensure your team are motivated to actually be there and contribute fully to reaching your team goals.  

Believe me, everything will be easier for you as the leader if people enjoy actually being there, rather than dread coming to work each day.  

Good leaders accept responsibility for workplace motivation and do what they can to foster it. When you apply these three simple concepts in your workplace you will quickly build a motivated, committed and successful workforce – and a pleasant place to work.

For more ways to improve employee performance and boost workplace motivation check out this powerful tool: from Kerrie Mullins-Gunst. Kerrie specialises in helping leaders and managers develop all the skills they need to mentor, manage and lead.