"Red tape. Infighting. Office politics. Employee morale.
Can't get things done. Lack of communication. Layers of bureaucracy.
Not valued. Rude, difficult people. Indecision. Lack of support.
Inconsistency. No clear direction." These are sample answers from
readers to a Winning at Working survey that asked about the biggest
problems at work. And then we wonder, as supervisors and managers,
why employees aren't motivated?
Working with a client on a consulting engagement recently, the issue
came up again and again, "How can I motivate my employees?" My answer
wasn't the quick-fix the client wanted. "You can't," I said. "But
what you can do is more powerful and sustaining. If you want
motivated employees, create an environment where people can be self-motivated."
You see, efforts to rouse, stimulate or encourage behavior are
short-lived. That's not to say expectations, incentives, pay for
performance or fear of consequences don't work to improve results for
a time. They do. But, carrot-and-stick approaches don't solve the
problems that reduce motivation, initiative and engagement. So
results are often fleeting.
These dangling carrots wilt when roadblocks, lack of trust, poor
communication and broken promises are everyday hurdles. They wilt
when bosses model behaviors inconsistent with their words, when
emails communicate what should be said in person, and when feedback
is as infrequent as lottery winnings. Wilted carrots can't sustain
people's discretionary efforts or ignite people's talents or passions.
Leaders who practice winning at working philosophies create pockets
of excellence where people can bring the best of who they are to
work. They make it easier for staff to get their jobs done, not
harder. They remove obstacles, enhance communication, build trust,
eliminate red tape and recognize contributions. They focus on
people's strengths, providing tools and support to enable others.
Winning at working leaders build positive environments out of
consideration, respect, integrity and openness.
These winning cultures aren't struggling with the question of how to
motivate employees. They're reaping the results self-motivated people
bring, where creative ideas, discretionary efforts, and personal
effectiveness are freely given to accomplish company goals. They're
engaging the talents and gifts of their staffs, not through
carrots-and-sticks, but by creating places where people can shine.
Most people want to do a good job. Most people want to contribute and
feel proud of the work they do. Most people want more than a
paycheck. Motivation is not about carrots or sticks. It's about
providing what's missing.
Revisit the first paragraph. What's missing in these environments?
Simple processes. Cooperation. Purpose. Enthusiasm. Resources.
Support. Vision. Communication. Consistency. Respect. Recognition.
Consideration. If you're a team leader, supervisor or manager who
wants to lead a winning team, start there. Provide what's missing in
your sphere of influence and you'll discover the real secret to
©2007 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.
Receive a copy of 21 Winning Career Tips (a free download) at
http://www.winningcareertips.com. Nan Russell has spent over twenty
years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She
has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development,
Communication, Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from
Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan.
Currently finishing her new book, Hitting Your Stride: Your Work,
Your Way(Capital Books, January 2008), Nan is an columnist, author,
coach and speaker. Visit http://www.nanrussell.com.