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The Short List of Staff Motivators.

"In a tight job market, the things that used to work may not necessarily work today," says Bob Nelson in his Lessons in Leadership presentation, "The Rewards of Recognition: How to Generate the Energy Your Organization Needs," a program Nelson presents in various venues across the country. "Part of my mission." says Nelson, "is to come back to the short list of employee recognition ideas that--as busy as we all are--we still have time to do and will bring the best results."

Nelson points out that "employees are beginning to think of economic incentives as almost rights rather than rewards," with less than 3 per cent of base salary separating average from outstanding performers.

Nelson bases the short list of staff recognition ideas on the findings of a 1991 study of 65 workplace incentives, conducted by Dr. Gerald Graham of Wichita State University, Kansas. In the study, most employees identified the top motivating techniques that they consistently did not receive. Among the respondents, 58 percent had never received personal thanks from a supervisor; 76 percent had never received written thanks; 78 percent had never been promoted for excellent performance; 81 percent had not received public praise (2 percent did not want it); and 92 percent were in offices that never conducted morale-building meetings.

Even in small-staff association offices, Nelson says, "By using the techniques that employees say have the most impact on them, you can practically create employee recognition out of thin air. And the irony is that [those techniques] are easier and less expensive to use than many other ideas." Here are the items from Nelson's short list ("Top 10 Ways to Motivate Today's Employees") many of which apply to small-staff organizations.

1. Personally thank employees for doing a good job--one-on-one, in writing, or both. Do it often, sincerely, and in a timely manner.

2. Take the time to meet with and listen to employees as much as they need or want.

3. Provide specific feedback about the performance of the person, the department, and the organization.

4. Strive to create a work environment that is open, trusting, and fun. Encourage new ideas and initiatives.

5. Provide information on how the organization earns its revenues, upcoming products and strategies for competing in the marketplace, and how the person fits into the overall plan.

6. Involve employees in decisions, especially those that affect them and their work.

7. Recognize, reward, and promote people based on their work and the work environment.

8. Provide people with a sense of ownership in their work and the work environment.

9. Give people a chance to grow and learn new skills; show them how you can help them meet their goals within the context of meeting the organization's goals. In these ways you create a partnership with each employee.

10. Celebrate successes--of the organization, of the department, and of the individuals in it. Take time for team- and morale-building meetings and activities.

"If you recognize performance, you'll get more of it," says Nelson. "Remember, if your employees are your greatest assets, then treat them as such and you will reap the rewards."
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Publication:Association Management
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:May 1, 2000
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