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Monday, 21 April 2014

What Best Motivates the Team? Ask the Team What Does It For Them and Trust Them!

I have noticed on LinkedIn recently an abundance of contributors calling themselves Motivational Speakers and it is a description which concerns me somewhat.

It is arrogant to assume that we can motivate anyone; the best we can do it to provide an environment in which people can motivate themselves, should they so desire.

That having been said, the question then is what sort of environment is optimally conducive to self-motivation?

I have said in previous posts that there is always a significant amount of untapped talent in any organisation and it is to the advantage of both the business and the individual to identify it and then do something about how to nurture and develop t.

In the end the responsibility is with the leadership because it invariably ends up with a culture change and change can be traumatic for some people.

I recall when I was running a small engineering company that we had a shop floor which was cramped, noisy, radio constantly on Radio 1, shouting, general banter and so on.  The result was a shortage of efficiency with an abundance of effectiveness and enthusiasm.

Growth brought with it a realisation that the available space was just insufficient so we moved to larger more spacious premises which in our naivety we thought would be more acceptable to the workforce.


Productivity actually suffered initially until the team began to bed into the new environment which was quieter, more spacious and generally conducive, we thought, to improved efficiency.

In fact, the psychologist, Frederick Herzberg says that the working environment is what he terms a negative motivational factor. This means that if it is right then the motivational effect wears off pretty quickly and becomes the accepted norm; in other words it has a neutral effect.

On the other hand a general environment in which people can grow their abilities ands skills, where they are given the freedom to make decisions, where they feel that they own any situation and above all they are trusted, will always be the winner.

One of the rules of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Group model is that if a customer asks any staff member a question or needs some help or advice, then that member of staff implements the solution irrespective of their position in the hierarchy.

In essence, people want to know two things; how am I doing and where are we going?

Simple questions perhaps but the answers need to be comprehensive, accurate and transparent so that everyone knows what they need to do individually to grow and at the same time, they are given the necessary information to enable them to contribute to the overall success of the business.

It all, as usual, boils down to trust.  The leadership has the responsibility of building success but not specifically delivering it.  That is the responsibility of the team and because of that, they must be given freedom to do the necessary as they think fit.

That demands a no-blame culture which says that should anyone make a mistake then we learn from it, we don’t use it as a stick with which to beat them to make them behave better in the future.

The leader of a business needs consciously to release the energy and enthusiasm in the team and to offer some more of Herzberg’s positive motivational factors; personal growth, encouragement, reward (not necessarily financial) and above all praise for task well done.

One of the best ideas I have come across is that of a vast retail business which, when someone notices that an individual has gone the extra mile to make sure that things go right, they are give a framed ABCD (Above and Beyond the Call of Duty) Certificate which goes on the wall with an accompanying photograph for all to see.

One of the greatest questions that a leader can ask of the people is

·      “What help do you need from me?”

Try saying “Thank You” more often for a job well done. The result can be startling.

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