Motivation is the Key

Are you planning to make 2012 your most productive year ever? If so, you’re going to need help from your entire facilities staff. However, they might not be quite as fired up as you, yet, so you’re going to need to motivate them.

Motivation is the key to performance. Unfortunately, motivating employees is anything but an exact science. There is no simple, step-by-step guide on how to motivate. So instead, here are some key rules of thumb you’ll want to understand.

The manager’s role in motivating employees is one that influences and facilitates. As a manager, you are a role model as well as a leader. You affect the behaviors of others, not only through directives and assignments, but also through communications and interpersonal relations.

Managers influence employees to cooperate toward a common goal. As leaders, managers are expected to persuade others to solve problems objectively and work toward established objectives. You have the ability and responsibility to get others to perform necessary tasks and functions. By achieving this, you will gain respect, loyalty, and cooperation.

As a facilitator, a manager attempts to make the work environment cohesive and open, and to encourage free exchange of ideas. The manager acts to encourage teamwork and responsiveness for a shared vision and goal.

In order to effectively motivate employees, you must:

  • Develop challenging but attainable expectations for employees.
  • Help make employees’ personal goals attainable and achievable.
  • Help employees succeed by removing obstacles to progress and by placing them in positions where their skills will be fully used.
  • Freely dispense positive reinforcement, including praise, recognition, consideration, and constructive feedback.
  • Help ensure a safe work environment, both physically and socially, as well as provide adequate work facilities, which encourages quality production.
  • Effectively interact and communicate, as well as clearly define expectations and responsibilities.
  • Make yourself available and approachable, and remain flexible.
  • Develop a fair system of rewards and incentives.

Measuring Morale

Measuring morale is, in fact, measuring employee job satisfaction. Job satisfaction is necessary for full performance, and it too must be quantified. Morale should not be taken for granted. If it is not measured, problems will not be detected until they have reached a critical stage. In some sense, managing morale is similar to maintaining equipment performance; what gets measured gets done. Measurement is necessary to correct job weaknesses early.

To determine job satisfaction, employee surveys should be taken and evaluated. Survey questions may include:

  • Do you feel you have the opportunity to do what you do best?
  • Do you feel your opinions count?
  • If you aspire to be a leader within the company, do you feel you have every opportunity to become one?
  • Has anyone talked to you within the last six months about your personal goals and development?

Once survey results have been tabulated and evaluated, a committee of employee representatives may be created to help resolve particular employee concerns.

Although managers may easily overlook individual opinions and concerns when things are going well, it is advisable to listen and note all input as a preliminary indication of deeper problems that could surface later, perhaps disastrously.

Getting More than Minimum Employee Performance

When an employee performs to barely adequate standards, extra effort is necessary to motivate the individual toward inputting more to ensure organizational goals are met. Strategies for motivating employees to enhance performance may include:

  • Avoid categorizing the employee. Treat each aspect of performance separately, praising good performance and coaching that which is substandard.
  • Investigate the employee’s work process to be certain no hidden obstacles are present, such as unreasonable time constraints, untimely information, or other barriers that hamper performance.
  • Make sure the employee has all available and necessary resources. Demonstrate a willingness to help the employee improve.
  • If motivational approaches are not successful the first time, consult with superiors, colleagues, and the employee to adjust management efforts.
  • Praise workers when they achieve above-average performance levels.

Motivating through Goal Setting

Regardless of specific achievements, successful people and organizations are goal oriented. Performance goals and goal-based rewards are common motivational tools. For the manager to motivate employees effectively through goal setting, goals must be personally meaningful, which generates a commitment to see the goal attained. Deadlines tend to motivate, and early project completion incentives motivate employees to realize the goal sooner.

Goals must also serve to regulate effort. The degree of effort the employee expends is proportionate to the difficulty in reaching the goal. Specific, difficult goals are closely related to task performance. A difficult goal will have more value when it is attained; for less complex goals, if the manager can effectively remove obstacles, employees will be more motivated toward reaching the goal and not be as likely to lose interest before it is attained.

Goals should increase persistence, which is necessary when a goal is difficult. The goal must first be important to the individuals involved, and the manager must emphasize the importance of seeing it through to completion.

Finally, goals must encourage strategies and action plans. Managers can develop long-term goals as encouragement. Goals can be set, and employees can develop strategies to achieve the long-term goal; the motivation for the worker is being involved in strategizing and working toward achieving the goal.

By measuring morale, you’ll be better able to identify and address motivational issues, establish appropriate goals for yourself and your team, and ensure a very productive 2012. Happy new year.

This article is adapted from the BOMI International brand new course Managing the Organization, part of the RPA, FMA, and SMA designation programs. More information regarding this course and BOMI’s education programs is available by calling 1-800-235-2664. Visit BOMI International’s website,