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Motivati your staff

n a dynamic and pressurised workplace, time to motivate staff can seem a luxury Surely they should . be self-starting? Such an assumption is dangerous. Staff may not be sufficiently self-starting and, anyway , the way they work, their knowledge, skills and attitudes can all be influenced and even good performances improved. Motivation is a key management task; it can assuredly make a difference.

So, only well-motivated people will produce a real edge and continuously maximise performance. What motivates? Well, a plethora of things. There is regrettably no single magic formula. Creating the right motivational climate demands continuous consideration and action. Perhaps the most important thing is recognising that positive motivation does not just happen. Creating it needs an investment of time: time then repaid through the creation of a team who become, predominantly self-starting and effective. , Motivational theory needs to be appreciated. Some aspects of work dilute any motivation that may exist (the dissatisfiers); other factors enhance it (the motivators). The trick is to work across both, using and adjusting them to create a positive balance that acts to boost performance. Consider the range of factors involved here, though here we can only concentrate on some. First, negative factors – demotivators – include unfair or illogical internal policy and administration, inappropriate or unconstructive supervision, poor working conditions, salary (who would not like to earn more?), difficult interaction with peers (and people in supporting roles), lack of status, feelings of insecurity (perhaps caused by such factors as lack of clear job descriptions or targets, rather than job insecurity), and the many detailed elements that flow from all of these. Some factors exert a more powerful negative effect than others. For example, on the demotivational side, many people tend to dislike bureaucratic admin (especially if this is not a major element of their job), and appreciate it when forms and procedures are kept brief and simple, allowing them to concentrate on prime tasks. More so, if the reasons

for what is necessary are explained. For example, the usefulness of information they must collect. On the positive side, people are classically motivated by achievement, recognition, the work itself, advancement and growth. Many jobs have some inherently motivational aspects, provided people are well chosen (good selection is also vital), and like their work. Jobs that typically demand considerable responsibility – a key motivational factor – and the ability to act alone and make decisions, are likely to appeal to staff most.

Perhaps nothing is more important than a feeling of achievement: nothing except that achievement being recognised. Sometimes results are regularly apparent – daily , perhaps. If so, there is usually no problem in recognising real achievements. Personal targets are increasingly set in many jobs. Apart from their other (control) purposes – these can focus on revenue, profitability work mix, productivity , factors and more – all can provide a measure of achievement. They may well contribute to creating positive motivation, so having targets is no bad thing. The range of ways of recognising achievement is almost endless. Some ways are so simple: just saying ‘well done’ in some form. Yet, which managers can truly put their hand on their heart and say that they have said it sufficiently often in, say the last month? Praise is strengthened by being made , visible, at a section meeting perhaps, or reinforced with a note from senior management. Other simple ways of recognising achievement range from a manager just taking the team to dinner or a drink, to writing up an achievement in the firm’s newsletter. Almost anything can be linked to this principle. Sometimes dramatically: “If everyone hits target, I’ll run the annual conference in Singapore” and, of course, both a merit-based salary increase and incentive payments provide motivation because they constitute a form of achievement recognition. Finally here: take care never to be censorious. What matters to the team is what is important, rather than what motivates you as a manager. 22

IEE Engineering Management | February/March 2006

it takes time to make that true for your people: the payback is how your well-motivated staff perform. Training. no incentive is effective for the majority if the same few people always win the prizes. achieving it needs working at. ● It is well proven that people work best when their motivation is high. They want them to spend more time with them. In business development. He is the author of ‘How to motivate your staff’ (Kogan Page).Human resources ing SEVEN BIG DEMOTIVATORS unfair or illogical internal policy and administration. and are not possible for every job. sales and management communication skills. No single factor predominates others. Business success rarely drops in our laps. and if you think you can’t. with a changing focus to maintain interest. everything from running effective group meetings to one-toone working together to spark ideas and prompt the right approach. It is usually good people who speak well of their managers. so dynamic that constant fine-tuning is necessary to keep skills well honed and approaches up to date. Staff will often list “someone I learn from” as a prime desired characteristic in their boss. They work with people to improve even the best performances and keep approaches well focused. ● inappropriate or unconstructive supervision. internal goals. growth. you’re right”. sandwiches) on the condition that the group sit down together and talk shop – with a theme. advancement. The core of successful motivation is to juggle a changing range of different influences large and small to create the overall desired effect. Different combinations of people respond week-by-week and much creative discussion ensues – it sparks ideas. which specialises in work in marketing. Profit sharing schemes can work. But incentive schemes must be set up carefully . It all motivates. (and development) as a key – and continuous – process. ● ● feelings of insecurity (perhaps caused by lack of clear job descriptions or targets rather than job insecurity). Phased incentives work well. or linked to large groups (where individuals feel they have little influence). Any scheme needs careful planning and communication. SEVEN BIG MOTIVATORS ● ● ● ● ● ● ● achievement. they work best when linked clearly to individual effort. counselling. and they give it sufficient time and thought. Additionally the current business environment is . Payment must be easy to calculate so that everyone knows how they are doing. As Mary Kay Ash. and clearly draw benefit from the time that is spent in development (however informal). Such approaches should ensure everyone has a chance. even a year might seem an age for younger staff members. They must not be overdone. for instance. Where such payments are possible. However. ● difficult interaction with peers (and people in supporting roles). or one year’s experience repeated five times. scheme each quarter. ● lack of status. ● poor working conditions. ■ Patrick Forsyth runs Touchstone Training & Consultancy. but must not be overcomplicated. and thus effort – is usually desirable. incentives. The next period the focus is on something different. though regular activity – with something always going on to focus attention. said: “If you think you can. responsibility. Ringing the changes helps prevent any scheme becoming routine. staff lunch (well. A degree of creativity is necessary One consultancy firm provides a free weekly . one quarter there might be a reward for whoever opens the most new accounts or sells most in a specific business sector. Just a few occasions of well-motivated people moving from routine to exceptional performance can affect results significantly Good managers see motivation . you can. TOP OF THE LIST WORK INCENTIVES A good deal of research shows that the remuneration package that produces the best results is one linked to incentive. IEE Engineering Management | February/March 2006 23 . Payment must be regular and as short term as possible – although the financial year makes sense to the manager. Yes. but surely members of your carefully selected staff are all self-starting? Patrick Forsyth reviews how motivation can make the difference salary. it all makes a difference. recognition. Most people want the former. some things are clearly of prime importance: one such is managers’ contribution to personal development. Remember: you can have five years’ experience. Say having a different . a successful female businesswoman in the 1960s. and people like it.