Have you ever agreed to a staff request for a higher salary on the basis that it would encourage and motivate them to work harder and smarter, then find that it didn’t have the desired effect?
Even though many people will say that money is their key motivator, it’s surprising how little real difference it makes to attitude and motivation. Frederick Hertzberg said that money is a ‘hygiene factor’; that is, it acts as a demotivator if it’s lacking, but only a short-term motivator at best when it is given as a reward.
More times than not, what is more important to staff are such intangibles as being appreciated for the work they’ve done, being kept informed about things that affect them and having a sympathetic manager who takes time to listen to them. None of these intangibles are very costly, but they all do take the time and thoughtfulness of a manager who cares.
How can you provide frequent and personal rewards that are aimed at not just improving their job satisfaction, but also allow the individual to tap into their creativity and actually enjoy the rewards of working?
Take time to find out what specifically motivates and excites each of your team members. Personalised motivation seems to gain more response because people like to feel that they are getting individual attention, rather than just being part of a team effort.
When one of your employees has put in extra effort on a key project or achieved a goal you had mutually set, immediately recognise the achievement in a unique, memorable way. You will find that the more creative and unique you are with the reward, the more fun it will be for the employee, yourself and others in the organisation.
I heard of one manager who wrote to a team member’s family, telling them of his achievement. It was received very well at his home, as his family realised how much he was appreciated at work.
Another company had their MD sit down once a month with the employee of the month, at a special lunch, and discuss how the employee had contributed to the success of the company with their attitude and achievements. The employee always felt respected and honoured to have that privilege.
If you work in a large organisation, drop your CEO or COO a quick email outlining what the employee has achieved, and ask them to give the employee a call to congratulate them.
If the team member has a specific hobby, maybe buy a small gift that relates to that hobby. That would be received far better than the equivalent amount of money in their pay packet.
I heard of one manager who treated staff members to a complete valet of their car, inside and out, in recognition of great performance. It showed how important the little things were to that company.
If the budget stretches that far, take the team out for a special lunch to say thanks for all their efforts. Join them on an evening event, like a trip to the theatre or bowling. Not only will it build the team up, but they will also feel recognised for the role they play.
Have an ‘Excellence Day’ where team members show their skills at their favourite hobby. Create a fun day so that everyone can share their skill and knowledge. Devise a fun quiz and then order lunch in, so everyone can enjoy contributing and gaining at the same time.
These ideas and hundreds of others like them are limited only by your imagination, time and creativity. Not only will such rewards uniquely single out exceptional employees, they will create a positive story that the employees will tell to others time and time again. Friends, family and colleagues will get to hear about each individual’s achievement and what the company did to celebrate it, and the employee will get to relive the recognition many times.
Rewarding employees for exceptional work they’ve done is critical to keeping them motivated to want to continue to do their best. Although money is important, you can potentially get even more benefit from such personal, creative and fun forms of recognition as discussed above. Try such rewards for yourself to see the pride, enthusiasm, fun and motivation that can be generated.
We’re going to take a look at the work of Lawrence and Noria in early 2000’s and adapt some of their ideas so we are all singing off the same song-sheet.
The first driver they spoke about was the need to achieve, and have the feeling that we have achieved something and gained something that makes our lives meaningful.
Maslow said we need to deal with physiological needs, but there’s more to it than just amassing material things. A universal law says we either grow or die. This need to achieve a goal, objective, target is inherent in most of us, and this desire to achieve is a key motivator for many people.
Just ask why some people want more money, for example, and many times it epitomises their need to have to achieve something in life, whether it’s security, comfort, a high standard of living, or something more altruistic. This then, is the first driver, the need to achieve.
The second need is the social need, the need to be able to bond with others, a team player. A lot of people will be driven and motivated simply to be accepted into a social setting; they’ll want close friends or teammates, and they’ll want to get on with others. Few people will be motivated to want to work on their own for long periods of time.
A third area is the need to be challenged. Why would someone be motivated to step out of their comfort zone? Well it’s again this desire to grow, to be significant, to see that what we’re doing is significant in the workplace. Without challenge, people’s skills atrophy and die away, so this desire to be challenged outside our comfort zone is a driver for many people.
Lots of motivation theorists say that it is impossible to motivate another, unless they personally want to be motivated. So part of our responsibility as managers is to help people to be self motivated or to drive themselves, and our job is to create the environment for them to do this.
Without this environment, allowing people to drive themselves forward, not matter what extrinsic motivational efforts you put in, it may well fall flat, as they will hit a plateau and not be driven higher. So we need to identify things that will open up opportunities for staff to drive themselves forward.