Written by Dave Gannaway
Every business that is functioning without staff motivation is working at less than its potential. I was talking with a close friend and business owner about staff motivation and his response was, “It sounds alright, but it wouldn’t work for me!” Well of course that’s very true, we all know that if we say ‘It can’t be done,’ then we have committed to that. But since we were friends of long standing I said, “Let me demonstrate how I can improve your business through motivation.” “Naa,” he said with skepticism, “It wouldn’t work, I know my staff well enough. Plus, my cash flow is limited right now,” he said making all the excuses he could think of.
Naturally, one has to speculate a little to prove or disprove a point. As a friend, and just to prove the power of staff motivation, I offered to demonstrate to him with a short program, just how it will work, even for him! He continued the excuses of money being too tight. “I’ll run a short program, no charge, but if it’s successful you buy me dinner!” Now I had his attention.
I had several brief meetings with his staff and explained how they would feel better if they just had a different attitude about going to work. I showed how we can easily make these changes. Just working with the staff and showing how they could improve their lives, quickly began to result in changes. When they just began to feel good about themselves, it quickly reflected on their workmates and everyone around. And what was more interesting, is that they were becoming aware that other inner conditions can be changed and that they could begin to feel better about themselves.
My friend quickly noticed the difference within the workplace. The atmosphere was lighter and the staff was happier. Production even increased. The staff seemed to overcome little problems without making a big issue out of them. I explained that when everyone is pulling on the same rope (in the same direction), that far greater power was exerted on the reason they were going to work.
Once we had obtained momentum, I began to explain that when everyone gives a little ‘added value’ to their work, it becomes a win-win situation. When employees add a little value and enthusiasm to their work, things flow along better. When that happens, schedules are more easily met. The quality of the products improve, the customers buy more etc, etc.
My friend was impressed but still hesitated. So then I turned my attention to him and how HE also needed to add a little value to the effort also. “I can’t afford any pay increases at this time,” he wrongly anticipated what I was going to say. “You can add great value to production and general well being of the company by including the staff to a greater degree.” I suggested, explaining that he, for example, ask if anyone had any suggestions for improving the products or the production. Just involving staff as part of the company can have a remarkable effect.
After a little hesitation, a flow of ideas began to come from folks who were previously uninterested. Of course, not all of the suggestions were practical, but acknowledgment and a personal thank-you was all that was needed to encourage more. Rapport with management increased as did the harmony and general well being of the company. From these simple value-added techniques so much can develop. New products, improvement of existing products and product methods all begin to flow when all hands are pulling in the same direction.
These techniques really work when they are put in place and applied every day. Just as a little oil can make a machine run smoother, so staff motivation will increases the effectiveness of business, and any situation where men and women are employed or work together towards a common cause. My friend was both surprised and delighted and has now started his own program of staff motivation. I enjoyed the dinner I had earned and he, reluctantly, agreed that a plan for staff motivation is a great idea for any small business.
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