By: Warren Greshes, author of The Best Damn Management Book Ever (Wiley, 2011)
What is the single biggest commodity small business owners have the least of? Time.
My book, The Best Damn Management Book Ever: 9 Keys to Creating Self-Motivated High Achievers, is dedicated to making you a more effective leader by teaching you how to develop the kind of self-motivated self-starters who don’t need to be managed, leaving you free to take care of important things; profit, growth and creating a company culture that will make you the envy of your competition.
Here are three of my nine keys to improve employee motivation:
1) Management Styles - Stop being a “Jump out of the Bushes” leader! I once had a boss named Sal, who loved to catch us doing something wrong. You could do 100 things right and never hear about it, but do just one thing wrong and he’d pounce like a wildcat, screaming his head off saying, “I knew you’d screw up.” Not a relaxed atmosphere.
Sal had created a company culture of fear -- and fear is a de-motivator. Fear stops people from doing more than they’re capable of doing. Fear of failure is the biggest obstacle to success. Fear of getting yelled at, criticized, or treated like an idiot, created an entire company of people whose goal was NOT to do anything wrong and be noticed.
In great places to work, people must be willing to take risks and go above and beyond.
If the fear of making a mistake and being singled out is greater than the possible thrill of success, people end up doing nothing. Imagine if an entire company of people just stops and does the minimum? I’ve been there; it’s not a pretty site.
Allow your people to make mistakes. Create a corporate culture and work environment where mistakes and failure are not a death penalty.
Making mistakes is how people learn and gain valuable experience. We learn more from our mistakes than we do from doing nothing. But, if you’re going to allow and encourage your people to move beyond their self-imposed limitations and make mistakes, be sure they don’t make the same mistakes over and over again. That is not a learning experience.
However, getting people to accept your criticism and correct their mistakes is not easy, which brings me to point #2.
2) You Want Them to Listen to You? Tell Them They did Something Right. If you want to point out the mistakes people make, get them to listen to you and fix those mistakes, you better be ready to recognize them when they do something right.
Employee recognition is one of the greatest drivers of employee motivation in the workplace. Do you know anyone who doesn’t like to be recognized when they’ve done something right or achieved something special?
Incentives work. By recognizing someone for a job well done, you’re giving them one hell of a great reason to listen to you when you point out and correct their mistakes. If one of your people makes a mistake, but knows from past experience that he or she will be recognized for correcting that mistake, they’re FAR more likely to listen to what you have to say and act on the advice. And lastly, one of the most important lessons I ever learned in my career as a manager, leader and business owner….
3) STOP TOUCHING EVERYTHING! At 24 years old, I was promoted to the position of sales manager for one reason: I was a really good salesman, which is probably the worst reason to make someone a sales manager.
I was your typical top producing salesperson-turned sales manager and I was awful at the job. I had no patience for anyone whose production did not approach mine. I had this horrible need to be involved in everyone’s business and every decision, no matter how small. I was convinced I could do everybody else’s job better than they could, which might have been true if I wasn’t trying to do them all at the same time. It was a disaster.
Moral of the story; STOP TOUCHING EVERYTHING!!! You hired these people, let them do their jobs. If you don’t think they can do it, show them how to do it better. If you made a hiring mistake, get rid of them; otherwise get the hell out of the way.
You may think you can do everyone’s job better than they can, but you can’t.
Even if by the slightest chance you could, why should you be paid an owner’s salary for doing, let’s say, an administrative assistant’s job? Learn to let go. Trust your people. Let them develop their talents. It’s only going to make your job a lot easier.
Warren Greshes, author of The Best Damn Management Book Ever: 9 Keys to Creating Self-Motivated High Achievers (Wiley, 2011), is an internationally acclaimed professional speaker. He is the President of Speaking of Success. His corporate clients include Bridgestone/Firestone, Hewlett-Packard, CNET and Coca-Cola.