Intangible Motivation Produces Tangible Results

Jim Blasingame

Imagine that your best employee just resigned. How much will it cost – directly and indirectly – to find, hire, train, and get a replacement to the productivity level of your exiting employee? You already know the answer: maybe years. Not a scenario you want to contemplate, right? 

There are many reasons why someone leaves a job, but decades of exit interview records show that compensation is seldom the main reason. Consequently, it’s an article of faith that employees don’t leave companies they leave people – usually a manager. That means that such a disruptive circumstance is likely not only preventable, but the solution is essentially one of those intangibles that cost you little to nothing. Often, just some of your time and attention.

Motivation is one of those intangibles, and smart business owners know about its power. They’ve experienced the direct link between motivating employees to be successful in their assignments and the success of their business. 

You can become one of those smart managers before a key employee turns in their keys because he or she merely couldn’t come up with a reason to be motivated to stay. Consider these six motivational best practices.

1. Communication

Nothing is more fundamental to having loyal, productive, and engaged employees than good communication. If you’re having problems keeping good employees, the low-hanging fruit for you may be to just start talking with – not to – your people. Face-to-face.

2. Professionalism

This is the aggregation of proper business, ethical, and interpersonal behavior, and it’s a key pillar in the motivation structure. A professional environment fosters pride, performance, and loyalty. Devotion to your own professionalism will help employees achieve and value theirs. And don’t forget to recognize their professional progress. 

3. Management style

Check yours. Are you a leader or a driver? Drivers disregard and use others as a means to an end. They’re identified by high employee turnover. Leaders value their people by encouraging them to be successful in their assignments. They’re identified by the double digits representing the average number of years their employees have been with them, and the multiple black digits to the left of the decimal on their bottom line. 

4. Training

Employee training pays operational and motivational dividends. It fosters knowledge, which fosters self-confidence, which fosters leadership, which fosters loyalty, which fosters customer loyalty, which brings us right back to those black numbers just mentioned. How’s that for a training straight line between motivation and return on investment? 

5. Recognition  

A robin noticed a turtle sitting on top of a fence post. When the robin stopped to ask how he got there, the turtle replied, “Well, obviously not by myself.” 

When talking about what your company has done, be sure to manage your pronouns with motivation in mind. Whenever “I” can be replaced with “we,” do it. This tiny 2-letter pronoun is a powerful verbal high-five that resonates and sustains motivational energy throughout your organization.  

6. Fun

Motivate your team by encouraging fun at work. In my long career, the people and organizations I’ve observed as being the most successful are those who take their work very seriously but don’t take themselves seriously. Having fun isn’t just a result of success, it’s also the cause of it.

Write this on a rock ... Motivating employees to be successful in their assignments is not only good business, it’s also the right thing to do. 

Jim Blasingame is the author of The 3rd Ingredient, the Journey of Analog Ethics into the World of Digital Fear and Greed.

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