Someone shared a ‘guru cartoon’ with me today (please stop blind-sharing these self-absorbed phoneys), where the message was ‘be happy’ – genius! Of course, we all want to be happy but someone shouting it at you will usually have the opposite effect. Most of the stuff these self-styled ‘experts’ churn out is like Usain Bolt’s coach telling him to run faster.
The reality is that over the longer-term, people motivate themselves and it’s our job as managers to create an environment for them to do so. How?
1. Take care of the hygiene factors i.e. remove obvious demotivating factors from the environment. If employees know that others are doing the same job as they are, but getting more money, they are justifiably pissed off. If they have a two-hour round-trip to the office just so you can watch them work, you lessen their commitment, and their respect for you. Be flexible and help them to spend more time working in their unique ability.
2. Define success, measure it, and let them get on with it. Some of the annual objectives I have seen senior managers set are laughable and amount to no more than a task list (I remember ‘attend training’ was one). Objectives are numbers that relate directly to successful outcomes, that your business can measure and report on. Ever had a KPI that when you get to appraisal time you both realise has not been recorded because the business just cannot collect that data?
3. Coach, coach, coach. Your primary role as a manager is to improve the people that work for you. Work out what they’re really good at and what they love doing and help them become better. Automate or delegate tasks below their pay grade. I know several Sales Managers who still bring their £80k salespeople in every month for a day’s ‘telethon’. Stop it! Their job should be to turn prospects onto customers. Find a cheaper and more effective way of turning suspects into prospects.
In general, avoid short-term motivational activities and speeches, disingenuous, meaningless acknowledgements and please, please, no more Whale posters and unrelatable, forgettable, template Mission and Values statements.