Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Motivation Essentials

I once met a business owner who had a unique way of motivating the employees in his construction business.

He carried around a big wad of bills and, if he saw someone doing something extraordinary, he'd hand them $100.

I told him, "Show me how that works!"

He laughed and replied, "It doesn't. I gave a guy 100 bucks just the other day and he quit five minutes later."

Much has been written about the limitations of money as a motivator. The real answer, I suspect, falls in the category of "It depends." If you're talking about a young person who is saving for a car or a home, a pay raise can have a real appeal. An older person, on the other hand, with the mortgage out of the way and the kids out of college, may be less interested in a pay boost and more focused on a flexible schedule, a new job challenge, or a sabbatical.

One size fits all doesn't work when it comes to money, but there are some factors that are universal regardless of age, sex, or ethnicity:
  • People want to be respected and appreciated.
  • They want to receive a reasonable amount of pay.
  • They want to be able to trust the boss.
  • They want co-workers that are likeable.
  • They want to feel that their jobs have meaning.
  • They want a clear understanding of their roles.
  • They want a sense of order in the workplace.

Put those together and you'll have a motivated team. Neglect any single factor and you'll have problems.

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