Employee Motivation is Job One

Follow these four steps to raise the level of enthusiasm and feeling of job satisfaction among your workforce

I used to get tired of trying to get my people to do what I wanted them to do. They always had what appeared to be legitimate excuses why they didn’t get the job done on time, or why they didn’t follow my directions, or why it wasn’t their fault when something went wrong on the jobsite. I thought I was the only one who could do the job right. Perhaps, you feel the same some days.


People Are Different Than You

There is a way to build your pumping business with the people you have. You can get them motivated, all on the same page, and working like a winning team with common goals, drive and excitement. Successful business owners and managers know their people are different than them. They realize employees are not motivated for the same reasons they are. Just because you pay employees a good wage doesn’t mean they’re going to work their fanny off for you.

Younger workers today are very different as well. They like continuous learning and personal growth in their careers. Their loyalty is to themselves. It is your job to discover each employee’s differences, what makes them tick, and help them achieve their goals for you to reach your business goals.


The Motivational Problem is You

Years ago, I went through 14 secretaries over a two-year period. I just couldn’t find anyone who would work as hard as I wanted them to. One day I finally realized maybe the problem was me. I had to understand that it was my responsibility to motivate my staff. Once I realized this fact, my personnel problems turned around, our people became great and our employee retention improved to more than 90 percent every year.

To motivate your workforce, you’ve got to give them a reason to be motivated. Don’t expect others to understand your passion for customers, quality work or the need to make a profit. They must want to follow your vision, achieve your goals, and get the job done properly.

Exceptional employees require two things: money and happiness. Money includes fair pay and competitive benefits, plus working for a strong company with a good reputation in the community. Happiness is the same, being motivated. Your job is to motivate your people to want to do what you want them to do. You accomplish this with inspirational leadership, clear and continuous two-way communication, an exciting vision, step-by-step directions, holding people accountable and giving them full and unquestioned responsibility.


Four proven steps to motivate people:

1. Outline clear expectations

People need to know exactly what you want them to do and the results you want them to achieve — the expected results. Weak managers assume people understand what’s required. The norm is to tell people to work real hard and try your best. But, this doesn’t let people know exactly what’s expected. People must be told and understand exactly what you want, the specific end results.

Be specific with clear targets and define the exact results you want. Make sure your people understand what their individual targets are, what’s acceptable and what’s not, when they hit or miss their target, consequences for not achieving the results you want, and rewards for a job well done.

2. Give regular recognition and praise

The second important step you want is to provide ongoing recognition and praise for people who do the work. Weak and ineffective managers don’t take time to thank people for a job well done. Over time, this causes lackadaisical employees and poor results. In a survey of why people left their company, over 90 percent said they’d never been recognized or praised by their boss.

Employees want and need feedback and positive reinforcement for their efforts. Effective leaders give out praises at least every week to everyone in their sphere of influence. Use words like, “I appreciate you” and “Thanks for a great job.” Keep a simple chart in your day-timer to ensure you recognize all your staff on a regular basis. Strive to praise everyone at least weekly and check it off on your chart so you won’t forget someone. Verbal praise works best, but occasionally write handwritten notes to those who went beyond the call of duty.

3. Share a clear understanding of the big picture

The third thing your people need is a clear understanding of the big picture (company, employees, customers, projects, etc.) and how they fit in. Successful business owners, managers, and supervisors are open and honest and tell employees where their company is going — its vision, what the future has in store, positives and negatives, and changes or adjustment required to be successful. People need to know what’s happening; otherwise, they tend to think the worst.

Successful leaders constantly tell the real deal — business is good or bad, the future is positive or negative, sales are up or down, productivity is acceptable or not, our people are doing a good job or not. Hold semi-annual, all-company meetings plus monthly project and department meetings where the big picture is discussed and open to questions.

4. Promote a caring company attitude

Let your people know you care about them. Employees need to know you appreciate their contributions to company success. They want to know you care about their personal goals, future, personal development and their family. People must know they’re important. They want to know they will be listened to and have a say in the future of their company.

To ensure you continuously show you care about your employees, keep a “team member profile” sheet on each person in your day-timer. Include their name, family members, schools, hobbies, sports, interests, goals, challenges, contributions, etc. This way you can refer to it on a regular basis and keep track of each team member’s life.


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