By Rich Kramarik
When you think
about it, the success of many facets of your business can often be traced back
to motivated employees. From productivity and profitability to recruiting and
retention, hardworking and happy employees lead to growth and success.
motivating people is far from an exact science. There's no secret formula, no
set strategy, no check list to fill out. In fact, motivation can be as
individual as the personalities of the employees who work for you. One employee
may be motivated only by money. Another may appreciate a simple “thank you” for
a job well done. Still others may work harder if they have equity in the
We can boil
down employee motivation improvement to two basic actions -- finding out what
your employees want and finding a way to give it to them or enable them to earn
it. The following includes more insight and some interesting and helpful
motivational techniques used by successful CEOs.
business owners and managers we often make decisions based on what we think (our
experience) or feel (our mood). When we do this with decisions about employees
and motivating them, we will most likely be more wrong than right. Therefore we
need to adopt a one-on-one approach to our employee motivation planning and
actions. Picking one plan of attack or approach for all employees simply won’t
The first step
on the path to growing employee motivation is finding out what each employee
wants or needs and then move on to figuring out how you can get it to them.
Some of the considerations are:
Find out what motivates each employee
Find out by asking each employee
Find out by asking employee peers what motivates the employee
Offer what fits each employee’s wants – the menu approach
Give employees the opportunity to earn what they want
Be consistent in the value of what is given to each employee
Don’t turn what employees earn into entitlements
As we saw
above, each employee has different needs and wants. Here are some examples of
what we have seen.
Provide what the employee considers interesting work
Allow employees independence
Assign employees to work they are best able to perform
Set achievable goals
Allow “comp” time – take personal time and make up the missed
Allow “flex” time – employees set their own start and stop
Be visible to the employees so they feel they can talk to you
Allow the employee to test-drive a new role
In the late
1990s we started to see companies offer employees items or situations that were
very creative and out of the ordinary.
Company “recreation” rooms – pool tables, foosball, table
tennis, comfortable couches and reading materials - provide opportunity for
Pet medical insurance
Company provided lunch in the lunch room on Fridays or each
day – provides opportunity for employee interaction
As part of a health maintenance program each employee chooses
a company paid birthday gift out of a catalogue of exercise products –
bicycles, weight machines, tennis racquets, baseball equipment, etc.
No work on Fridays during the summer months – employees work
10 hour days four days a week
Company pays employees $100 for cross-country company travel
where the employees use their frequent flyer miles
Company sends quarterly “care packages” to employees in
remote locations – snacks, flowers, books, video games, sports events
tickets, theater tickets, etc.
most important motivator
Now for the
more difficult to understand or believe. All of us want to do things our way.
We sometimes make unreasonable requests. We often choose to ignore the rules.
Some of us even blame other people for our mistakes. Many of us expect company
entitlements with out having to earn them. The question is – is this fair? The
interesting thing is that these attitudes permeate the business environment.
And, when they are allowed to go unchallenged they are attitudes that in fact
cause other employee dissatisfaction and demotivation.
attitudes cause employee dissatisfaction because they are not consistently
accepted or refuted by management. So, we contend that the biggest negative
impact on employee motivation and morale is a lack of management consistency,
inspection/observation, control, and employee accountability.
managers can improve these attitudes and thereby motivate their employees by:
Documenting clear performance expectations
Documenting and stating clear objectives
Providing training resources and opportunities
Publicly recognizing good performance
Being visible and accessible to employees – manage by walking
Showing employees they are valued
Managing company policy consistently
Compensating employees for exceptional performance – bonus,
night-on-the-town, weekend trip, etc.
Disciplining or removing earned items or situations as a
consequence to employees who don’t meet company and job requirements.
the CEO and managers can motivate employees by how they set objectives, manage
resources and reward success. Three simple rules for CEOs and managers to
follow to motivate employees are:
teach the rules
Motivating Employees Case Study
By: Rich Kramarik
At one company we talked to we heard several interesting approaches to
motivating employees. First, they had implemented a social committee that had
complete freedom to schedule events. Here’s a list of some of the events they
There was a ten week company wide Pictionary competition.
Employees formed teams around department lines and each Wednesday at 3 PM
several teams were assembled to “play-off” against each other. It was a
“ladder” play-off ending with the best two teams playing each other in the
finals. The winning team earned a day off with pay for their success.
Competition is good; team spirit and camaraderie were improved.
There was a summer afternoon ice cream social. The company put
out big tubs of ice cream of popular flavors and all the fixings to make your
favorite ice cream Sunday. The social started at 3 PM on a Friday and all the
employees were excused from work when they had had enough ice cream and social
interaction. It was a great time to share ideas and talk about opportunities.
This company’s favorite dress-up social was the Halloween party.
Everyone was expected to show up at work on Halloween dressed in their Halloween
costume. Then at 3 PM in the afternoon there was a costume contest and prizes
for the winners in several categories. There was plenty of finger food and
drinks to kick-off the evening of trick-or-treat. It was an opportunity for
employees to laugh at each other and break down barriers that may had formed.
At Christmas the employees were encouraged to bring in new gifts
for under-privileged families. The company provided time during business hours
and the materials to wrap the gifts. At the appropriate time groups of
employees went together to deliver the gifts to the families. It provided
lifted spirits and raised morale.
The CEO was a black belt in Karate and he held work-outs and
training for interested employees, at the office, each week. There were many a
smile about the poor performance and then having to go to Karate class with the
The building had shower facilities and there were a couple of
sporting groups – a cycling group and a runner group. These two groups went out
for extended lunch hour rides/runs on occasion. They were healthy employees,
full of energy and driving productivity
Then there were a long list of business approaches and employee benefits:
There was a “think-tank” conference room for creative thinking.
The room had floor to ceiling white boards on all four walls, so that employees
could capture and view all their planning and creative work. The room even had
a supply of “toys” for the “thinkers” to “play” with and keep their hands busy
as they thought. The room had extra sound proofing to keep the loud sounds in
or out as required. The employees felt free to be creative. They felt that any
idea would be greeted with open arms. Innovation and 14 granted patents were
The building and office had electronic card key access so that
employees could enter or leave at any time. This allowed them to work extra
hours when they wanted. It was viewed as an environment of flexibility and a
company that cared about the employee needs.
The company had a matrix management organization that allowed
employees to be assigned to projects based on their skills and desires. Product
developers were temporarily assigned to the sales department. Product support
employees were temporarily assigned to the marketing department. Training
department employees were temporarily assigned to the development department,
etc., etc. No one ever got bored with their job. The best employee for the
task at hand was always assigned to it. Employees enjoyed their work.
Productivity was great.
Everyone in the company was welcome in the CEO’s office. He made
it clear that he wanted to hear the employees’ ideas on how to get the work done
better, cheaper, faster. Every employee felt like a key contributor to the
The company always had a stream of candidate new hires because
employees were given $1,000 for employees they recommended after the first six
months of the new employee’s employment. Groups of employees who had worked
together in other companies became the norm.
The company had multiple customer user groups and a Customer
Council made up on the CEOs of the top 15 customers. These groups met on a
regular basis and provided the company’s departments the best possible
information available to improve products, sales and support. Employees were
expected to participate and use this information.
There were formal recognition programs but the recognition that
the employees loved the most was a simple program. Each month every employee
was given three poker chips. If a fellow employee did you a favor or helped you
do your job or was otherwise deserving of recognition you would give them one of
your poker chips as a thank you. At the end of the month everyone turned in
their poker chips. The three employees with the most chips each won a night on
the town worth $500. This is what I consider one of the world’s best team
building recognition programs.
As the other article in this news letter said, there are not any rules,
templates or guidelines to motivating employees. Our hope is that this list of
ideas will help fuel your creativity in discovering what will work best
in your business. These are all real programs that have been used successfully
by our clients to motivate employees.
Brought to you by:
Bob De Contreras
RTBA | Cary | Greensboro | Raleigh | Research Triangle Park | North Caroliina
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