Boost the Bottom Line with Motivation

Building a motivational climate builds the foundation for maximizing the talents and abilities of the individuals who compose the organization. People who are motivated, who maintain a positive attitude toward the organization and their role in it, and who are enthusiastic about their work look for opportunities to grow and develop. They want to grow in personal effectiveness, in career standing, and in job productivity. The most effective impact a leader can make on the “bottom line” – the place where all productive effort must eventually be evaluated – comes through helping team members develop and utilize more of their full potential.

People grow personally and gain in productivity in a climate conducive to personal and professional development. Growth is further accelerated in a work environment that offers the freedom to try new ideas, to fail and try again, and to learn from experience. Individual team member results are maximized through intelligent supportive leadership.

Discovering everyone’s best qualities can be a complicated process. Talents and abilities are sometimes unrecognized even by one who possesses them. Develop a variety of techniques for discovering individual strengths:

Choosing Employee Tests
Some qualities can be measured by tests, but others can be discovered only in practice. For example, a test can show whether prospective administrative assistants can spell, but not whether they will be at work on time every day. A performance test can show whether machinists can correctly set up and operate a drill press, but not whether they will consistently remember to wear safety glasses. It is fairly easy to test objective knowledge and skills, but much more difficult to test such intangibles as attitudes, judgment, and motivation. Tests are valuable in identifying individuals with the foundation or training needed as a starting place for development of the special skills required by the organization. Tests, however, must be clearly designed to produce specific information, and they must be given and interpreted by a qualified administrator.

Employee Interviews & Reviews
An employment interview is just the first of many possible interviews. Asking questions about job experience is an excellent tool for discovering what a person does best and enjoys most, as well as what new skills that individual might be able to learn. Periodic performance reviews are excellent opportunities for finding out more about people, inquiring about their desire for advancement, and hearing their ideas. Reviews indicate the direction of the team member’s personal development. Informed, perceptive listening is the key to learning about people. Interviews may range from a few odd minutes standing in the hallway to a structured meeting discussing a current project.

The Power of Observation
The most accurate tool for discovering the true qualities of people is observation. Watch what people choose to do first, which items are always completed on time, and which ones are always late. Notice what causes one person’s eyes to light up with interest while others groan audibly. See what people do with pride and care, and notice which projects are thrown hurriedly together. Observe personal interactions to identify natural leaders. Using each person’s leadership potential may call for some reorganization. It may demand reshuffling duties, areas of authority, and accountability. Some individuals will initially dislike the changes that trickle throughout the organizational structure when such realignment takes place, but the final result is profit – profit through more productive people, through systems that operate more smoothly, and through bottom-line impact.

Plan for Growth and Renewal
Even though a team member has been selected and initial orientation provided, the task of training has just begun. People – like their attitudes, skills, and interests – are never static. They either grow and develop or stagnate and deteriorate. A person who is productive today will be producing substandard work five years from now unless regular and continuous learning takes place. This is true for people at every level of the organization.

As a leader of a learning organization, you have the responsibility to provide adequate training for continuous improvement in these areas:

  • Knowledge and skills. Every field is changing. New methods, ideologies, and approaches are being developed daily. Be sure training addresses new knowledge and skills.
  • Personal effectiveness. Time management, communication, and goal setting are personal effectiveness skills that can be sharpened by appropriate training.

A systematic training program brings several benefits to the organization. Well-trained, knowledgeable people are always available for needed tasks. Morale remains high because people know they are appreciated and considered valuable to the organization. And, individuals become more productive – personally and as a group.

Develop a Motivation Plan
Since motivation depends on individual needs and is developed internally, any effort you make to encourage the development of motivation must be done on an individual basis.

How well do you know the people you count on to get your work done? Could you read the list of names and say with certainty what each person needs to be better satisfied on the job? Resist the temptation to say, “They all want a raise.” Of course, not one in a thousand would turn down a raise, but some employees might be less satisfied after the raise – not better satisfied. To be self-motivated, people must feel worthwhile and productive. A raise is not a motivator when it is awarded merely because the employee has managed to stay on the payroll for another year. Such a raise is seen as a function of the passing of time – not as an indication of individual merit. Use some of these techniques to encourage the development of self-motivation in employees who have a need to feel productive:

  • Delegate a task, stating clearly your confidence that the individual can successfully accept this new responsibility.
  • Take note of some action demonstrating initiative and express your appreciation for that action.
  • Find ways to let the rest of the organization know who is doing a good job; post the name and/or picture of the person on a departmental bulletin board or print an accolade in the monthly newsletter.
  • Make it a point to speak personally to those who have been absent as a result of illness or vacation. Tell them how glad you are to see them back and how their presence contributes value to you, the client, and the organization.
  • Ask team members for their suggestions about how to solve problems that arise. Even though you cannot use all suggestions, you communicate respect when you ask for suggestions and seriously consider them.
  • Learn about the families of your team members. Compliment them on the achievements of their children when you see reports in the newspaper, or inquire about the health of a family member who has been ill.
  • Use visual reminders to build pride and cooperation among the members of the team. For example, if you are in sales, hang a poster that tells how many days the team has met or exceeded the sales quota. Whatever the goal is, a way to track progress can be devised which will encourage the development of self-motivation.


Leadership Management® International
Reprinted with permission
Strategic Essentials is a Managing Partner for Leadership Management® International, Inc.

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