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Motivating to excellence.

Motivating employees is one of the primary responsibilities of a manager. A good manager knows that positive, nonmonetary motivators work as well, if not better, than monetary motivators.

Positive motivation leads to an effective group effort and increases productivity by building team spirit. Positive motivators that excite many employees even more than money include recognition, prestige, achievement, appreciation, pride in a job well done, a voice in how the business is run, responsibility, and advancement. The following three steps ensure a positively motivated team of employees.

Hire the best people. When a football coach is hired to push a losing team to victory, he or she faces many obstacles. The coach may be a fantastic motivator, but the existing team management and players may have different views of how to play the game. Often, a changing of the guard is in order--out with the old, in with the new. A great coach and a mediocre team do not make a winning formula.

Hiring the best people makes motivating easier. It means spending less time handling problems and replacing employees. It gives managers more time to train and communicate with their staff.

Train employees. Ben Franklin once said, "An investment in education pays the best dividends." If training is appropriate, adequate, and properly done, managers will get paid back 10 times the cost of training.

Appropriate training refers to teaching people the right skills for the job they do. Most companies do a good job of technical training but neglect to teach self-management skills and people skills.

Self-management skills include goal setting, time and stress management, and organization. People skills include listening, questioning, feedback, and other communication skills.

Adequate training means constant training. Good people cannot be overtrained. Once they've mastered their job, managers can keep them motivated by cross training. Cross training will keep employees from getting bored and challenge them to grow.

Cross trained employees have a more holistic view of the company, its functions, and its people. This increases their capacity for creativity. When these employees are promoted, they make better managers because of their higher skill levels and broader understanding.

The opportunities for vertical training to strengthen the organization and motivate employees are often neglected. The most common form of vertical training is delegation, when a manager shares some of his or her responsibilities with subordinates. While this is an effective method of motivating, it should be taken one step farther.

For example, a manager should allow a subordinate to do the manager's job for a week or a month to get a feeling for the kinds of decisions made. Managers are often surprised by some of the creative solutions employees come up with.

Another vertical training technique is to let an employee work in a job that is lower than his or hers. For instance, a salesperson might work in order entry or order fulfillment or an accountant might work on the assembly line or drive a truck. Employees will jump at these opportunities as long as they are assured that their old job is waiting. This juggling of positions fosters a team spirit by giving employees an appreciation for each other's functions.

Proper training means one level of expertise building on another. The four stages of training are:

* Ignorance. The employee does not know how to complete a task.

* Awareness. The employee still cannot do the task, but he or she knows what is expected.

* Practice. The employee makes many mistakes striving to master the details of the task.

* Knowledge. The employee has perfected his or her performance.

After the employee passes through all four stages of learning a given task, then he or she is ready for the introduction of another task.

Managers play a key role in training by letting employees know they are doing well. Competence creates confidence, and confidence is an internal motivator. Competence also lowers the employee's stress level and lower stress levels translate into a higher productivity and creativity as well as improved attitudes.

Communicate constantly. Nothing promotes employee apathy faster than the feeling of being ignored. If employees feel that no one cares about them or their contribution to the company, they will do just enough to get by. If their opinions are sought, however, employees will work enthusiastically to improve productivity and to share their ideas.

By seeking employees' opinions, ideas, and feedback, a manager promotes team interaction, improves his or her credibility, and has a better handle on employee attitudes, motivations, and situations. This attention puts the manager in a better position to head off problems and conflicts and to avoid the costly downtime spent handling them.

Constant communication can take many forms, including the following:

* Performance appraisals. Most managers view performance appraisals as a "have to" project rather than an opportunity to review training needs and to set goals.

* Questioning and feedback. Employees' opinions on management policy, customer procedures, suppliers, and systems should be sought. Managers should also take the time to talk to employees about life outside of work.

* Future projections. Managers should let the employees know about their plans for the near and distant future. New markets and products, changes in personnel or procedures, and new equipment should all be discussed.

* Listening. When employees talk, managers must listen. One idea could be the ticket to the company's future. Managers must also listen between the lines, looking for changes in body language, speech patterns, and habits.

* Open-door policy. Many ideas have been lost because the process for getting them to the right person was cumbersome. Good ideas should be able to get through immediately. Managers must clear away the roadblocks and let employees know that their ideas are important.

* Work improvement meetings (WIMs). Managers should buy employees a breakfast or lunch during which they discuss ways to improve productivity. This often works well with people from different work teams, departments, or divisions. It is a good way to get fresh input.

Interview employees about careers. If an employee has been with a company for a long time, his or her goals and expectations are bound to change. A manager must stay current and get reacquainted with staff members every year or so. The best way to do this is the career interview.

A career interview is a semiformal meeting between the manager and each employee. The goal is for the manager to get to know the employee better, learn about his or her goals and aspirations, and talk about his or her expectations. Managers should ask about family, personal, and career goals, about how they feel they fit into the company, and how well the company meets their needs.

A manager must respond to the needs and feelings expressed in the career interview. A manager who does his or her best to meet those needs will have a motivated team that wants to excel.

Tony Alessandra, PhD, is a speaker on sales, service, and communications. For more information, contact Alessandra and Associates, PO Box 2767, La Jolla, CA 92038, 800/222-4383. Rick Barrera is president of Rick Barrera and Associates of La Jolla, CA. For more information, contact PO Box 8164, La Jolla, CA 92038.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Managing; ways to positively motivate employees
Author:Alessandra, Tony; Barrera, Rick
Publication:Security Management
Date:Nov 1, 1992
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