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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How to Motivate Your Employees

Chris Kortschot

Monetary compensation only goes so far when we are talking about the best talent within an organization. People are complex machines that are motivated by more than simply a high pay cheque and there are certain things that are critical for any organization wanting to retain and motivate their best employees.

Money is a motivator, but not in the way that most of us would imagine. The only time money actually works as a motivator is when an employee is not being paid enough in which case they are motivated not to work. Unfortunately for employers paying employees more than they deserve actually inhibits employee performance. The best answer is to pay employees enough so that they are able to think about the work that needs to be done.

The good news for employers is that keeping employees motivated is much easier and cheaper than jacking up their salaries. There are three things that people desire in a job: 1) Autonomy; 2) Mastery; and 3) Purpose.

Autonomy is the feeling of self control. The reason micro management is so ineffective is not because the immediate outcome is worse, it is because micro management is a vicious cycle. The more an employee is told what to do, the more they depend on being told what to do. The answer? Stop and let them make some mistakes. Mistakes are good as long as something is learned and not too much is lost.

Mastery is the desire to be good at something. Give your employees specialties no matter how lowly you may think the job is. Job cycling is good because it provides a new challenge for employees but this should only be done once they have mastered their current title.

Finally, purpose is the sense of contribution to something of importance. There is no recipe for this but make sure your employees understand the entire system in which they work. If they understand who depends on them and see the actual result of their work they are more likely to have a sense of purpose.

If you are able to give your employees the opportunity to master their craft, ability to make the wrong decision, and the sense that they belong to something more significant than themselves they will more satisfied with their job as well as more effective.

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