How Can I Motivate Staff?
If you were to attend one of our leadership and management training courses, you would see that many people on the course, want to know the answer to the same question:
How can I motivate my staff?
At the start of the course, when I ask, "Why are you here?" many delegates say they are on the course to find out how they can motivate their staff.
Here is the answer to that question.
There are two types of motivator
- Positive motivators.
- Negative motivators.
In the short term, both types will motivate your staff; BUT, in the long term, only the positive motivators will work well.
The negative motivators do work, but they don't work for long. The negative motivators are:
- Verbal abuse.
The positive motivators are:
- Rewards (money).
- Goal achievement
- Appeal to security.
- Appeal to team loyalty.
- Praise and appreciation.
- Appeal to pride.
Let us talk about the negative motivators and how they don't work well.
1. Verbal abuse. Verbal abuse is simply the act of talking to people harshly; shouting, swearing, telling people that they are stupid, or unprofessional, or no good. Verbal abuse will affect people and may get them moving in the direction that you want. But verbal abuse is abusive. You lose the relationship you have and the abuser becomes The Enemy. Since you need to keep the willing co-operation of your colleagues, then verbal abuse is not a great motivator.
2. Threats. Threats will motivate people. Threats amount to saying this: "If you don't do X, then bad things will happen to you." This threat will motivate, but negatively. Most people won't stay in a threatening environment for very long. Instead, they will look to leave. So again, the use of threats causes more problems than it solves.
3. Punishments. Punishments is the imposition of some form of pain, in an attempt to motivate, or to teach a person a lesson. Punishment does not work well as a motivator since, nobody will live under a punishing boss for long. The boss becomes the enemy to be defeated. So the boss loses the very thing he, she wants, which is better productivity.
Don't use the negative motivators, unless you are in an emergency situation. Then only use them sparingly.
Instead of negative, use positive motivators.
You are better off using the positive motivators. They are:
1. Rewards. Rewards for the achievement of a goal. The best way to motivate people is to reward them for the attainment of a goal. If you link their rewards to their productivity, then the more productive they are, the more they get paid, then you will have no trouble motivating the staff.
2. Goal achievement. The act of setting up a challenging and worthwhile goal, will motivate many people. Since many people like a challenge, setting up a challenge and making work feel like a sporting challenge, or an intellectual challenge, will motivate people to solve the puzzle or crack the code, or climb the mountain. Many people are "achiever types" and are motivated by goals.
3. Appeal to security. This method is the opposite twin to the negative motivator of threats of a painful future. If you offer security for the future as a motivator, then many people will respond. Since many people worry about an uncertain future, if you say, "Our future security will be gained if we achieve X", then for many people, the achievement of X becomes a highly desirable thing.
- X = security.
- Security is motivating.
- So, X is motivating.
4. Appeal to loyalty. Most people have a sense of loyalty to the team, (not all, but most do). So if you appeal to the Greater Good; if you ask people to give their best in order that the team will win, then that will be enough to motivate many people. Team spirit can be a powerful motivator for individual effort.
Warning. DO NOT OVERWORK THIS MOTIVATOR. If you ask an individual to "take one for the team", initially, you will get a positive response, but if you overwork this method, then it will soon burn-out: Remember that people are mostly motivated by self-interest, so you cannot expect him or her to destroy his own chances for the so-called, "Good of others".
People are social beings and so you can use this desire to help others as a positive motivator.
5. Praise and appreciation. This is one of the best and most overlooked motivators. Praise and appreciation for work already done. Please do this:
Show more praise and appreciation for the work done by others.
Use this phrase, "Thank you for X. I really appreciate it".
And use this phrase too. "The X you did, was really excellent. Thank you so much!"
The act of showing appreciation and praise is fundamental to good relationships. Many relationships flounder on the rocks of apathy and neglect. People are too apathetic to appreciate others and they neglect to thank people for what they have done. I know they are paid for what they do, but giving praise and appreciation as well as wages, works wonders.
6. Appeal to pride. Most people feel that they could be more than they are now. You feel that you could be stronger than you are now. You probably feel that you could be more educated than you are now, or wiser, or more resilient? Most people feel that they have the capacity to grow and to expand on their current status. So you can use that feeling as a motivator. You say, in effect this:
"If you did X, then X will really expand your range: Doing X will give you so much more valuable experience and will teach you so much about yourself and show you what you are really capable of."
This is an excellent motivator. Since we all need the feeling that we are growing and expanding and getting better, then pride is a powerful force.
Personal pride is a powerful positive motivator. So you can use it.