While I was working in Corporate America, I wrote the article you'll find below. It has never been published before today. It has sat, as a draft, since March of 2012, just 3 months after I first began blogging.
Now, exactly 3 years and 6 months to the day after I got fired from my successful career, I publish the post I was afraid to share while working for someone else. I held back my words in fear of getting fired. Now that getting fired is no longer something I worry about, I share this post with you.
Attention executives, directors, managers and leaders! What worked yesterday is not working today.
In today's world, things are moving faster than they ever have before. Your employees are asked to perform more tasks, more complex duties, and more jobs than ever before in the history of the world. Your people are the most valuable resources you have. No longer will the same discipline/reward system work with your employees.
Historically, to discipline your employees, the threat of firing or layoffs may have been a motivator. Though fear is not effective as a form of motivation, disciplining your workers in this manner is frequently utilized.
Today, your employees are already under constant pressure of these two things. As Abraham Lincoln put it to one of his civil war generals,
“Neither you nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army while such spirit prevails in it.”
If Lincoln's general could not motivate his soldiers when their very lives were on the line, why would your employee be motivated by fear when only their job is on the line?
What you did last year to discipline those that worked for you will not work this year. If you didn't already know it, morale is down. It's down across the board.
Your best people aren't getting promoted, your worst people have already been fired and your 80% lives in fear of getting laid off. Your people are getting more and more strained as the weeks go on. Through tapping into the wisdom, intelligence and the passion for people that got you to where you are today, I know you can make a positive change in your organization!
What motivated people yesterday may be less effective today. Money is not always a motivator. If money were the only motivating factor for employment, workers would simply be hopping from one job to the next, always looking for another dollar.
Though studies show that 75% of your workforce is already job-hunting, money may not be the only reason. Harvey S. Firestone, the founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber, once said,
“I have never found that pay and pay alone would either bring together or hold good people.”
Your people may not only be looking to make more money.
So what will motivate your employees? What will bring together your best people and hold them at your company?
Only your people can answer that, and they have to answer that for themselves.
How do you find out what motivates someone?
It's not through a survey, it's not through corporate guidelines, and it's not through a one-size-fits-all compensation plan. You find out what motivates someone by getting to know them. You have to sit down and find out what is important to them, their families and their futures. This and only this will lead to successfully motivating someone.
If you manage too many people to have a one-on-one with them all, you must do at least these two things:
- Delegate this duty to those who either have the time or will make the time to get to know the workforce on an individual basis.
- Empower those responsible for the bulk of your workforce with the ability to motivate their employees in the ways that matter to them.
As an executive, director or manager, there are things that you may have to give up to have the empowered workforce that you desire. This list of things you may have to give up could include control, time and money. Oddly enough, this list could be exactly what your workforce may be craving! Let's examine.
Your people want to have control over their lives, their careers, and their destinies. They don't want to live as slaves to the almighty dollar.
Your workforce wants to feel like they can learn, grow and develop themselves and be rewarded for it. They want to control how much money they can make, when they can get promoted and how they live their lives. If you give up some control and pass it to them, they'll not only love you for it, but they'll work to honor the trust you've placed in them.
When pay and pay alone is not enough to motivate your people, how else can you reward them for their hard work?
Give them time.
Time, second only to people, is one of your most valuable resources. We have an unknown but limited amount of time on this earth, and time is the one thing that makes us all equal. We all have 24 hours in the day. Ask someone with a terminal illness what they cherish the most, and you'll not hear them answer with a request for more money.
If you pay your workforce enough to where money isn't an issue, where they don't have to worry about gas prices going up, and they don't have to worry about paying their bills, time will be their next request.
Time can also mean different things to different people in your workforce. Time for one person could mean more vacation time. For another, it could mean more work from home time. For yet another, it could mean flexible time so they can go to their kid's soccer game. Time is so valuable that you cannot afford to discount its importance.
Though money isn't always the most important way to motivate someone, it sure doesn't hurt. When you can't pay your mortgage, struggle to fill up your car, and have to dip into savings just to go out to eat, money is a powerful thing.
While your workforce can understand that the company has to make money to pay its people and its bills, you cannot lay off their coworkers then talk about executive bonuses and how there is a “rosy outlook” for the coming year. Your people notice things like that, and it doesn't help. Their 1% raise (which doesn't even cover the cost of living increase) doesn't do them much good motivationally when their friend that just got laid off has to move out of their house.
Think of additional pay as an investment in your people.
First, if your workforce is thinking about how they're going to make ends meet at home, they're not thinking about making money for the business or doing the best they can at their jobs.
Second, if you pay your workforce what they're worth, not only will they be more loyal to you but the extra pay will make it harder for your competitor to come in and recruit them out from under you.
Pay your people enough to where they don't have to worry about the money and you may see some extraordinary things happen! Give them some extra time to do things that they're interested in and let them express their creativity. Let your people have more control over their lives and their careers; let them have a say in the decisions that impact them.
As an executive, director or manager, you are where you are for a specific reason. Either you excelled at a job and were promoted; you got your job because someone thought you could positively affect change, or you woke up one morning not knowing how you got there.
In any of these cases, you have the power to make someone's life better. Believe that there is a better way to run a business and a better way to lead your people than by the use of fear. People led by fear won't be led for long! They'll either leave you, replace you, or ignore you.
Stay positive, lead by example and make a positive difference in the lives of those you lead.
It's time for A Business Revolution!