How enthusiastic would you be if someone said ‘that was a great piece of work, if only you did that every time!’?
The added comment at the end probably doesn’t inspire, does it? And yet if you’d simply heard the first half of the sentence you’d smile and likely feel rather proud of yourself.
There’s a big difference between conditional and unconditional praise.
Giving someone recognition and appreciation without any qualifiers is a meaningful touch. It’s a freely given high-five to acknowledge what someone’s done, showing that it’s valued. An additional by-product of spontaneously giving unconditional praise is that the recipient often feels motivated to do more, to continue engaging with enthusiasm.
Conditional praise is very different.
There’s the thank you, but it can feel rather reluctant. A positive message, but modified by a push for more, to be better and not stop. It’s not hard to decide which of the two would work best for you or your colleagues!
Since the pandemic many staff have remained working from home and whilst this may please the accountant, meaning less overheads in terms of company premises, the downside is that it’s harder to motivate staff from a distance, to monitor their productivity and ultimately get them back into the office.
Working from home requires focus, self-motivation and discipline. Finding ways to maintain that, by being monitored and then rewarded with a break, a swim, a round of golf, is the key to a productive, home-working day. But, when people don’t talk regularly to each other, beyond a clearly agenda’d zoom call, the occurrence of more casual, unscheduled conversations and relationships disappears. As does an integrated team mindset.
Helping each other out, volunteering, sharing the load, offering new ideas and suggestions during relaxed conversations don’t feature too much in more formal scenarios and neither does the motivation to be mutually supportive.
Whilst earning an income is crucial, the pandemic has resulted in many people appreciating their family and friends more. Home life and time in nature has become more important and, whilst work is, of course, a priority, it’s not in the same way as before.
Motivating people to do a good job requires taking this new approach into account.
If people’s aspirations and wishes have changed, then the old, once effective carrot and stick method won’t work as before. Listening to staff means starting new conversations and discovering what they need, what’s important to them and then finding ways to include that so they feel respected and supported.
For those with children, more flexibility in regard to starting and finishing times may be important if they’re having to navigate regular drop-offs and pick-ups from school. A little latitude about parents’ evenings, Christmas shows, childminder issues and school holidays can help ease the pressure for those staff and enhance they loyalty.
Some staff may have become used to working on specific tasks or projects at home. They may value being semi-autonomous as they focus on a particular area of the business, maybe decision-making and progressing a project or developing a new initiative. Finding ways to utilise their skills, ingenuity and enthusiasm is a great way to continue motivating them.
Introducing staff to relevant customers and clients, either in person or via a regular newsletter, is a positive way to help them feel identified and recognised, helping to put a face to a name and personalise the relationship, but doing so isn’t always feasible, depending on the size of the business.
Also, job titles can make a difference to how invested a person becomes in their role. Titles like manager, senior officer or consultant can make someone feel extra proud of their role. This can work especially well in volunteer organisations where there’s no pay, so status is everything!
Competition can be a good way to motivate staff, whether it’s bonus-related or includes a reward of some kind. But staff can’t continuously out-perform themselves and improve on the previous year’s figures. Staff motivation has to be balanced against quality of delivery and customer satisfaction.
Also, those who deal with tricky or complex customer issues may require extra time to resolve complaints and disputes, impacting on their performance statistics. However, retaining satisfied existing customers is an important part of any successful business.
Leading by example is a positive way to motivate others.
If management want staff to follow suit they need to be aware of how their own input is perceived. Seeing a boss drive an expensive, de-luxe car may motivate some staff to strive harder in order to achieve that goal for themselves. They see a tangible reward that’s potentially achievable.
But others may find such ostentation demotivational and instead be resentful, feeling that it shows a ‘them and us’ mentality, something that takes the car completely out of their reach.
Successful motivation is about discovering how to inspire each person and then incorporate that into their career path, allowing everyone to move forward at a pace that suits.
Motivation comes from both our external environment and from our self-talk and how that enthuses and inspires us.
Being tested, challenged and motivated in appropriate ways allows us to achieve a fulfilling and rewarding quality of work and of life.
Susan Leigh MNCH (ACC)
South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer and media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She’s author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon and with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.
To order a copy or for more information, articles, or to make contact please call 0161 928 7880 or visit www.lifestyletherapy.net