ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — September 2003

In This Issue

BRIDGES: Internal Consultants for Change and High Performing Work Cultures
In A Nutshell
Proven Strategies on Service and Life
Leading Wholeheartedly: A Quality Approach
Respectful Confrontation for Superior Results

Features

Articles in Brief
The Help Desk
News Bites
What’s Up?

Book Nook

September 2003 News for a Change—Home Page

NFC Index

AQP Home

Proven Strategies on Service and Life
Downsizing, rightsizing, and RIFs are all placing a strain on organizations. Those employees who remain face the double stresses of picking up the slack and wondering if they are next.
One of the primary objectives for leaders is to coax the best and most creative effort from each and every employee. This can be a real challenge under normal circumstances, but it can be positively overwhelming in a difficult economic climate.

That is why your employee recognition program can be an effective motivation tool to help you get the most out of your team.

Money Motivates Employees, Right?
This is true to an extent. Many people are under the mistaken impression that money is the primary motivator for employees. Although it certainly is a factor, money can only go so far. For example, you’ve probably said at one time or another in your life, “You couldn’t pay me enough money to do that job!” You also may have passed on a higher-paying position in a different company because you really liked the work you were doing or the people with whom you were working.

If Not Money, Then What?
If you are like most people who are employed full time, work consumes the largest percentage of your time in a typical week. It can involve more time than you spend with your friends and family, more than you spend on hobbies and activities, and probably even more time than you spend sleeping!

You probably don’t work the traditional 40 hours but more like 50 or 60 or even 70 hours a week. You think about work as you drive to and from the office. You burden your family with the problems you are having at work as soon as you walk in the door at home.

In that light then, what motivates people to stick with it and put in greater and greater amounts of effort?

Fulfilling Work
People who are doing work they truly enjoy usually make the best employees. When they are doing a job they enjoy, they will work harder, put in more effort, and generally be more productive and creative. It’s not just the nature of the job itself that makes the difference but also the type of organization.

I have worked with several nonprofit organizations whose sheer purpose in exisiting was enough to inspire a high level of excitement and commitment. The people who work in these organizations are certainly not in it for the money. They do it because they believe in the causes their respective organizations represent.

Excitement
Even if the work itself is not implicitly exciting, the work environment can be. You can create a dynamic work environment by varying the load, by having a formal job rotation program so people don’t become stale in their current positions, and by offering opportunities for personal and professional development.

Contests with prizes and rewards—whether small or significant—also can create a level of excitement that makes employees actually look forward to coming to work.

Of course, the most effective and fulfilling motivator is recognition. This can involve rewards for outstanding performance above and beyond the norm, as well as awards for length of service. Recognition can be as complex as a president’s award for a company of 100,000 employees or as simple as a pat on the back from a manager or co-worker.

Sometimes, the best recognition can be a boss saying, “I know you had plans for this evening and that staying here to fix that problem was an inconvenience. I want to let you know that I really appreciate your effort on this. Thank you.”

Any Recognition is Better Than No Recognition
Look for ways to recognize the groups and individuals that are going the extra mile and helping to produce tangible results. There is nothing like getting recognized for a job well done that can help motivate employees to continue to put forth their best efforts.
Here are some tips to help you motivate your employees to even higher levels of productivity and creativity.

  • Keep it interesting. Even in a fast-paced company, work can become monotonous. As previously mentioned there are many ways to create a dynamic work environment.
  • Make it public. Recognition is one of the most effective and fulfilling motivators—no matter how simple. If you recognize your employees by posting a “wall of fame,” make sure that everyone can see it and that it is current.
  • Make it personal. Rather than purchase some standard gift from a catalog that includes the name and logo of your company, pick out something special for each employee that you want to recognize to ensure that it will be a truly meaningful gift.
  • Share the wealth. Money can be a powerful motivator, but make sure you take into account the tax considerations of large monetary rewards.

Look for ways to recognize individuals who go the extra mile to help produce tangible results. When you recognize your employees for a job well done, it can go a long way to ensuring they make their best efforts every day.

A nationally recognized customer service expert, author, and trainer, RON ROSENBERG, CSP, recently founded Drive-You-Nuts.com, a Web site dedicated to helping people get the service they deserve and to teaching companies how to provide it. He has been featured in publications including The New York Times, Smart Money, and Real Simple and has appeared as a guest on nationally syndicated radio shows including “Dateline Washington” and the “Gary Nolan Show.” For more information, visit his Web site at www.drive-you-nuts.com .

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