Friday, October 29, 2010

Manager: Chief Motivator

A few years ago, Saturday Night Live's Chris Farley played the part of a Motivational Speaker, Matt Foley. I always smile when I think about how the guy living "in a van down by the river" was set up to help motivate others. Eventually, Matt Foley would fall over a piece of furniture, breaking it into peices. His efforts could be summed up in a single word: Fail.

One of a manager’s most important tasks is to motivate his people. Sales, production, customer service, everything about the business relies on the people being motivated to do the job. Here are 10 tips that will help a manager motivate his people.

#1 If you want more innovation from your people, they have to feel secure. Even when the job changes, the employee has to feel safe. If they are worried about losing their job, the tendency is to stretch out the work. This is so very contrary to an atmosphere of innovation.

#2 Avoid being a Demotivator. As the leader, your job is to get and keep your people motivated and working toward that common goal. Demeaning them erodes their motivation. Do not be dismissive. Watching your own actions will help you be sure you’re not planting the landmines to sabotage your own efforts.

#3 Any organization’s greatest resource is the people. With the best, high tech equipment available, if you don’t have the people, you don’t have the business. Treat your people with greater care as you would your most expensive equipment.

#4 Do you remember that fire you felt on your first week, your first month on the job? Over time that feeling tends to fade and the enthusiasm dulls. It is important to fan the flames of your employees’ enthusiasm. Keep that flame bright and hot and the output will continue to amaze.

#5 Listen. You spend all the effort to find and hire the best. It just doesn’t make sense to ignore them after they’ve started drawing a paycheck. Listen to your employees. They are your best resources (see #3).

#6 Don’t Spray the Monkeys! Early in my relationship with any employee I share this little anecdote to help them understand how I feel about continuous improvement. I think it applies here as well.

Imagine if you will a large enclosure with stairs going to the ceiling in the center of the cage. At the top of the stairs is a bunch of bananas. The cage is rigged with sprinklers. Place five monkeys into the cage and almost immediately one of the monkeys is going to go after those bananas. As soon as that monkey reaches for the bananas spray all the monkeys with cold water. Do this every time a monkey reaches for the bananas and soon they will all ignore them.

Turn off the water and replace one of the monkeys with a new monkey. That monkey is going to see the bananas and head straight way for a nice banana treat. But before the monkey can touch the bananas, the others will beat the monkey, preventing him from getting too close to the bananas. After the second or, if the monkey is particularly stubborn, third attempt the new monkey stops going after the bananas.

If you replace a second monkey with another new monkey, like the first replacement the new monkey is going to head straight for the bananas. This time the first replacement monkey is going to join in beating the new monkey – getting significant joy out of the experience. He doesn’t know why he is beating the monkey except that it is what everyone else is doing. The new replacement monkey is going to give up on the bananas after the second or third beating as well.

If you replace the other three monkeys one at a time, a similar experience awaits the new monkeys. Soon, there are five monkeys sitting a cage with bananas at the top of the stairs that none of the monkeys will touch. They will not know why those bananas are no good but they will leave them alone, never to touch or eat them.

Why won’t they? Because that is the way it has always been. This is how policy begins. It is also how we kill innovation. Blind devotion to old policies leads to stagnation and de-motivates the would be innovative employee.

#7 Do not treat your employees like they are mushrooms. If you’ve ever gone to a mushroom farm, then you’d know mushrooms grow well when they are kept in the dark and fed horse manure. People aren’t like mushrooms. They thrive when they are kept in the loop and given the information.

#8 Participation breeds acceptance. When employees have the opportunity to participate in the discussion, they are more likely to embrace the decision management makes.

#9 Listen. Actively listen to your customers, your employees, your suppliers and anyone who may come in contact with your business. Objectively evaluate what they have to say. You’ll learn a lot, maybe even something that will benefit your business.

#10 Respect, Value, Human Touch. The three essentials of effective customer service is just as applicable to how we lead our people. Interestingly, you can’t really apply these essentials to the customer until after you’ve successfully applied them to the way you lead people.

No comments:

Post a Comment