Motivating Employees

Dear M & M: I just can’t seem to motivate my employees. Every time I turn around seems I am the only one working. – Dave

Dear Dave: Most often a person has to have some sort of motivation to put out any effort (good or bad). Sometimes it is good to reflect on motivation and the two categories or types of motivators used. The first is labeled intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is behavior produced because of the experience associated with the behavior itself. Some examples of intrinsic motivation would be; pursuit of knowledge, recognition, sense of accomplishment or taking on challenging work. By contrast extrinsic motivation is not performed for its own sake but for the consequences associated with it. For instance, an extrinsic reward would be more money, benefits, job security, better working conditions. One could say Ben is extrinsically motivated. It is not what he does in his job that he finds satisfying but indirect factors of pay, benefits and having time off makes him get out of bed to come to work. Everything being equal generally one can say employees that are more highly motivated will have higher performance levels. A second thing to look at is dissatisfiers and satisfiers. Easy to understand dissatisfiers (low pay, bad working conditions, and long working hours) are things that affect employees negatively while satisfiers (recognition, advancement, achievement) are things that effect employees positively. Notice the link between intrinsic/extrinsic and satisfiers/dissatisfiers. Factors associated with positive motivators were intrinsic (recognition, achievement, advancement and being your own boss). While dissatisfiers (money, security, working conditions) are linked to extrinsic motivators. In other words, good feelings were linked to tasks. Conversely, when employees felt bad something happened to make them feel they were treated unfairly (low pay, long hours, and poor benefits). Take care of the dissatisfiers. Pay people well. Make working conditions as best as you can. Create job security. Once dissatisfaction is removed then start working on motivating employees. Create challenging work, give recognition for a job well done, allow employees to be creative and bring ideas to the table. Dwight D. Eisenhower summed it up pretty good when he said, “A manager’s job is to get employees to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”

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