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All industries can interact and communicate to help out each other – ours are no different. The Business Solutions column in our new Expert Network section is designed to be your personal business advisory sounding-board with experts from different business areas available to answer your questions. The format for this as with other Expert Network sections will not be unlike a “Dear Abby” for business; however, SNEWS® will expand the typical single columnist to tap into a broader panel of experts, many from among SNEWS readers. Together with experts SNEWS will offer a forum for readers to discuss a topic, chime in with their own ideas, and suggest different recommendations to a variety of business concerns or issues.
Our Business Solutions expert panel is hosted by Ascent Advising, using contributions from several sources. Offer your input via the Chat area to add your comments or ideas to expand the forum into a lively, interactive, open discussion that we hope will benefit all.
Have a question you’d like our experts to answer? Email it to BusinessSolutions@snewsnet.com.
Q: I’m trying to understand how to motivate my employees. I have tried a carrot and I have tried a stick. Neither seems to work. Any ideas?
A: Research shows that what motivates people is often quite different from what supervisors assume. In the current work environment it is generally far more effective to use potential rewards at a much higher ratio over potential punishment. Offering a reward for success simply works better than threatening punishment for failure.
I suggest starting by getting to know your staff better. You may simply need to ask them what drives them, or why previous attempts have failed. If such a direct approach doesn’t fit the circumstances, get to know what they do in their off hours, what their dreams are, or how they would change their job if they had the opportunity. Consider offering a menu of rewards for desired performance since you can’t always predict what might motivate people or if you have to motivate a wide range of people toward a common goal.
I am reminded of two stories of how not to motivate people. In the first case, I offered a free trip to the sales representative that beat their goal by the largest percentage. When the winner didn’t claim his prize and I asked why, he explained that as a traveling salesperson the last thing he wanted was another trip, paid for or not.
The second is about a production line supervisor that had successfully motivated his team for years by offering a cake, made by his wife, to his team should they hit their production goal. When the new company president learned of this success he expanded the program to the whole factory and bought them all a cake when they hit their production goals. When the program failed miserably, the president went to the supervisor for advice. The supervisor explained that it wasn’t that his team was motivated by cake, but that they were touched by the fact that his wife would make them a cake!
All of us think and act differently in a given set of circumstances. There is no one-size-fits-all motivation system. Be sincere, keep communication lines wide open, and keep trying! Simply making the effort will someday bear rewards.
Ascent Advising provides wide-ranging business advisory services to companies around the globe, coming alongside business owners and executive teams to define and achieve even greater successes. The popular email newsletter, “Adages from Ascent”, brings to light vital and innovative concepts for running a business. For a free subscription, and to view past issues of the newsletter, visit AscentAdvising.com and follow the link for “Adages from Ascent”.