How to Motivate Employees Without the Hype or Expense


How much more enjoyable would your work be if everyone was really motivated? How much more productive and profitable would it be for the company and its workers if everyone was motivated to do their best? Companies spend lots of time and expense recruiting outside speakers and consultants to motivate their workforce. Learn about a low-key and more low cost approach that ensures long-term motivation…

I’ve been to a lot of the hyped up motivation seminars. I’ve walked barefoot over burning coals and broken glass. I’ve heard many great speakers and inspiring and uplifting stories and some others that are just too ‘Pollyanna’ for my liking. The trouble with motivational speakers is that the feeling of motivation generally subsides after about two weeks.

For longer lasting motivation many business consultants recommend that you should develop a company mission statement. Sure, they sound very grand and noble but do they actually do anything? I know that they are intended to motivate or inspire workers but the problem is that company mission statements only represent what’s important to the boss or a small group. If you want to motivate or inspire your fellow workers without the hype you just need to find out what is important each individual at work.

Jamie was a secretary in her early thirties for a health care company yet she had a strained look of stress etched upon her face that despite her immaculate dress sense and style, still added another 10 years to her appearance. As she went about her work you could tell that she was operating on autopilot.

Like many people that I have observed in various workplaces, Jamie was just going through the motions. She wasn’t motivated at all by her employers mission statement or by any aspect of her work (except her paycheck). As a result she often earned the ire of her boss for not completing many of her required tasks.

During a lull in business, I approached her. “How do you think you are going in this job? Do you feel you are doing your best?”

“Why should I try to do my best?” insisted Jamie. “At the end of every day, my boss just stands there complaining about something I’ve done or tells me that I am too slow.” She went on to share a long list of incidents of being berated by her boss.

In fact, I knew her boss and had found him to be a very genuine and caring man. In fact, he had asked me for some help in working out why his business had become rather lacklustre and he had troubles with his staff. He had been following a lot of the recommendations of his business management consultant but he wasn’t getting the results that he desired. After talking to his secretary, I was getting a pretty strong indication about what could be holding the business back.

I then asked Jamie, “What are you passionate about? What are your goals and dreams?” She hesitated and looked at me up and down with suspicion. “What do you want?”

Eventually her hard exterior softened as she began to focus on her desires. ” My husband and I would really like to start our own building company in the next two to three years. I have a background in interior design and building design. I would like to work with customers to design their dream house,” beamed Jamie.

“So it is important for you to have a creative flair and be excellent in dealing with people?”

I have always held the belief that you can’t motivate someone else to work harder but you can influence him or her. The only way you can get someone to do anything is by giving them what they want.

And what do we all want?

I can tell you, it is not being yelled at or constantly criticized or threatened with the sack. Dr. John Dewey, one of America’s foremost philosophers, said that the deepest urge in human nature is “the desire to be important.” We feel important when we are doing something that we believe in and are passionate about.

Find out what your staff are passionate about and relate what you want them to do in terms of what they are passionate about…

So I asked Jamie, “In your current work environment, how can you express your creative flair and improve your communication skills with people so you will be fantastic at it when you go into business with your husband?”

She raised her eyebrows with surprise.

“I get to deal with lots of people every day and I can learn about what’s required to build a business.”

“What an opportunity to hone your skills!” I remarked.

The next day, Jamie spoke to her boss and apologized for not doing her best and promised that she will do her best to help this business grow. Her demeanor and productivity at work improved overnight.

The catalyst for her change was that she began to see that there was a lot more than just a paycheck in this job for her. Once she saw that her job was also an opportunity to hone her skills for her future, her job took on greater importance for her.

If any of your colleagues are feeling stressed and uninspired at work remember to find out what is important to them so you can relate their job in terms of what is important to them. You may also find some hidden talents that may be used within the company. For example Jamie’s boss had just spent tens of thousands of dollars in designing and building their new premises yet they had a qualified designer right under their nose.

So it definitely pays to know about your work colleagues.

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