Every day I hear business owners lament the fact that their employees “just don’t get it”. Whether it’s statements like:
“They don’t use common sense.”
“I have to tell them over and over again.”
“Why can’t they think for themselves?”
“I’ve told them a million times…”
To which I nod, with a weary smile on my face and ask: “Why do you think that is?”
Discovering the nut of the problem is like peeling the layers of an onion. Get through one layer and there’s more to unpeel…and sometimes it makes you want to cry.
In most cases, however, the nut of the problem is the same, or similar: employees do not feel valued, respected and honoured for the work they do. And in many cases, it’s because the owner/manager/leader is like a helicopter parent who won’t let his/her employees flop and fly, succeed and fail, experiment and initiate.
They are control freaks, micro-managing every small detail.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the ‘here’s-the-policy-and-procedure-manual-have-a-nice-day’ approach. Orientation entails showing the employee where the washroom is, then throwing them to the wolves with the cold comfort of the policy manual clutched to their chest.
There’s really nothing new about “motivating” employees. In fact, as I often say, you can’t motivate someone else. You can inspire, support, inform, nurture and catalyze them to action, but motivation is an inside-out job and we, as employers, need to fan the flame that already exists within each person.
Which also underscores the need to hire for the “right stuff”…we can teach all the rest.
Jim Collins said: “It is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.”
And we need only to look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs from the 1950’s to realize that, in fact, a person’s need to realize their own potential remains paramount. In fact, as others have built upon this hierarchy, another level has been added: “Transcendence needs – helping others achieve self-actualization“.
And good leaders – those who inspire others to greatness – have transcendence needs.
So what do employees want?
Here’s my own A to Z list. Check it out and see if you provide the following in your business to your employees:
Appreciation that’s individualized – what looks like appreciation to one might not to another
Belief in them, that they can do a good job
Challenge – who wants to be bored?
Direction – point them in the right direction, but let them get there on their own. Provide signposts and guidelines, not micromanagement.
Enjoyment, which goes along with…
Fun – yes fun. When was the last time you saw genuine smiles and laughter in your place of business?
Gratitude – for the person, not just their acts
Healthy work environment, both physically and emotionally
Independence – tell people what you need done (results), not how to do it (unless of course a specific process is integral and essential to the end result, as in a factory)
Justice – moral, ethical treatment of all
Knowledge – empower people with knowledge but coach them to wisdom
Learning – provide opportunity for people to learn each and every day, not just that once-a-year-conference or event
Mentoring – Be a role model and mentor by example, in words and deed
Not just a number – realize that each person is unique: treat them as such
Opportunity – provide opportunities…many of them, for people to learn and grow and advance. Let them make mistakes, but make a particular mistake only ONCE. Repeated mistakes means that Learning has not occurred.
Paycheck – ’nuff said
Quality – in product and service
RESPECT – in my mind, the ultimate requirement of leadership. Without respect, for oneself and for others, little can be beneficially accomplished for the long haul.
Support – provide it where it’s needed, stay out of it when support becomes hovering, micromanaging or solving someone’s problem for them. Let them get dirty and messy, have ups and downs to learn on their own. But be there to catch them if they stumble hard.
Time – time with you to engage in a meaningful way; time to accomplish tasks; time to learn; time to take a break
Understanding – empathy and understanding – seeing the situation through the employee’s eyes, not just your own
VISION – without a clear picture of what you’re expecting and desiring them to achieve for the benefit of the company, there cannot be buy-in
Work that inspires that is Work worth doing – If someone doesn’t understand “why” they’re doing something…if they can’t see how it fits with the big picture vision of the company, there is little motivation to excel
Xtras – those little extra perks, niceties, thoughtful gestures that you sprinkle like spices – unexpectedly – to add to someone’s life
Your time, support, attention and love…yes love. When we love the people we work with, and show genuine care, interest and belief in them, the rewards are…
Zowie! Create a culture that is whiz-pop-zing-zang-zowie to work within, and employee retention, performance and productivity will soar.
What can you add to the list?