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How To Motivate Employees

This is the final article in the series on how to motivate employees in the workplace. If you haven't already read it, you may want to start with Article 1. It's not essential, but you may find it helpful.

Discover how to motivate employees, with some fairly simple conversations!

Let me start with a story that illustrates perfectly how motivation (or more correctly said, how lack of motivation) gets shown day-in-day-out at work.

Friday night is often Pizza night at our house.

Recently, I thought I'd make use of the online service of a large international chain, and decided to be clever and order the pizza at 5pm for a 6.30pm delivery.

Imagine my surprise when it turned up at 5.30 pm.

I said to the driver - "You aren't due for another hour".

His response: "I don't know I'm just the delivery driver".

Me: "Well what are we going to do about it, because our friends aren't going to be here for another hour?"

Him: "I don't know I'm just the driver, I'm the only driver they've got and I just deliver them"

Me (thinking - well this guy isn't really engaged in delivering great customer service), says: "Well at the moment you are the representative of (chain name), what do you think you should do about it?"

Him: "I dunno I'm just the delivery driver"

Me: (trying to refrain from rolling my eyes at him and bringing out my angry lady voice) "Can you call back to the shop and see what we can do about it?"

Him: (as he starts to take the delivery out of the heat bag) "No, I haven't got any credit left on my phone, and if I take it back you might not see me for a while, 'cos I'm the only driver. Last week someone got their order three hours late"

Me: (deciding this conversation was going to go nowhere) "Well it's not what I really want, but I guess a bird in the hand ... ".

Him: (blank look on his face)

Me: "Hey the entire order isn't here, you're missing the bread"

Him: "I dunno, looking at the docket and frowning, I'm just

Me: (starting to get a bit antsy about this point), "Yes I know you are just the delivery driver. Give me your manager's name and phone # so I can call to get this sorted out."

Him: "Ummm okay:

Ring ring, ring ring

Me: I explain the situation - (delivered an hour early, part of the order missing etc)

Her: "Let me look at your docket"

Her: "See when you put it through the online system it goes to a call center and then comes through to us, we don't look at the times until it comes out of the oven"

Me: "Well that's a system fault isn't it?"

Her: "Yes, but that's the way the system works. We can either deliver the rest of your order, but it won't be there for at least two hours, or I can give you a credit"

Me: "Well I guess it will be a credit, not that I think I'll be able to use it in the future, after this experience, I'm not sure I'm returning. "

Her: "Yeah well sorry about that"

Me: "I realize it's not your fault, but what are you going to do about it?"

Her: "Not much I can do, (pause) that's the system"

Me: "Hmmm. What about your driver he seemed pretty disengaged from the entire process, what can you do to inspire him to want to deliver a better response to customers, next time there's a problem?"

Her: "Not much I can do about it really, most people don't like being drivers. I'm not sure how to motivate employees to want to do anything"

Me: "Aaaah, well, good luck with it all"

Her: "Yeah thanks, I need it"

Why Was The Driver (And His Manager), So Disengaged?

Now, that whole interaction got me to thinking.

The driver really was disinterested and disengaged from the whole process - he didn't see himself as adding any value, other than delivering the pizza - and even then you could see he'd rather be doing just about anything else. Certainly, he didn't see himself as being at the leading-edge of customer-service of this international business.

Where did his disengagement come from?

His leader of course! Where did her disengagement come from? Her leader of course!

You know, it wouldn't have been so hard, for any leader, to help the delivery driver, or the store manager, to see that they are an essential part of the organization.

In fact, I looked up the Mission Statement of this organization and it reads in part "We take pride in making a perfect pizza and providing courteous and helpful service on time, all the time. Every customer says, "I'll be back!"

I also took a look at their careers page that, again, reads in part "To eat. To laugh. To share. That's why people come to (company name) and it's our job to make them feel like family. We do it with a smile, teamwork and lots of laughs"

Obviously on this particular night they had really missed the boat on delivering to both these statements.

An Honor Code Must Not Be An Academic Exercise

For many people an organization's Honor code (Vision, Mission & Values Statements) is often an academic, futile, frustrating exercise that has little bearing on day-to-day activities (and for most companies not how to motivate employees).

However, all High Performance Leaders know that the Honor Code is, the cornerstone of all high-performance organizations and the first step in creating a culture that enables people to feel personally committed to the organization's success.

Who do you know that doesn't want to belong to an organization, in which they can feel like they are part of a team, are proud of what they do, and have a fulfilling sense that they are making a difference in some way? Everyone wants to go to work with a spring in their step! An Honor Code, that is well-lived and applied, sets the way for this to happen ... for every person in an organization.

Helping people to see, is how to motivate employees

For people to feel inspired, they want to know that their job matters and how they fit into the overall picture. Their emotional and intellectual commitment to the business' success comes about, when they know what success means - beyond their own limited job description.

how to motivate employees The first rule in how to motivate employees!

You see - delivering Pizza's may seem like a dead-end job to many folks. But what if, you were to view it as....

An 'opportunity for you, to help people to get together in their homes with family and friends, after a week of work, so they can relax, spend time together and have fun while eating a meal that has been prepared for them.'

Here's What I Would Do!

As the leader of the Pizza Store, I'd take every chance I could, to remind people that they are doing more than just making or delivering pizza. I'd like to talk to them about how 'at the end of a busy, maybe sometimes stressful week, many Mums and Dads look forward to, and are delighted to be able to, have a Pizza with their family, their kids see it as a treat and it is one small thing that makes life a little easier.'

I'd say to my team: 'Imagine you are at someone's door and they have had a tough week and you were to say something to that person that caused them to smile and feel happy for a moment, won't that make you and them feel better?'

I'd also say, something along the lines of, 'What if your few words delivered, with a good feeling, was enough to switch a Mum from feeling cranky and stressed, to reflecting on how lucky she is, what impact might that have on the family for the rest of the night? You see, the thing is you just don't know do you, what impact your good humor might have on someone else. But often it can be paid forward in ways you just can't imagine.'

I'd maybe talk to my team about how, 'if we want to make this a great experience for us, no matter how long or short we work for this organization, what can we do to make it fun, so that we AND our customers are smiling?'

I'd maybe talk to them about the results we are getting, and ask them 'how can we make our store the best performing in the country and have a heap of fun while we do it?' I'd talk to them about how this job, might well lay the groundwork for another job down the track ... employers are always on the lookout for people who excel ... no matter the circumstance.

For more ideas like these download the ebook How to Motivate Employees

Those conversations don't have to be long, they just have to be regular, and as the leader you would need to lead from the front.

Making it fun, focusing on the bottom line, being concerned about the customers and the team - that's how to motivate employees.

It's really not that hard to help a delivery driver to see, that his or her role, is as essential to the organization as the CEO's. They are the face of the company AND they have the chance to have a positive impact on the lives of the people they interact with as they go about their job. Done right a terrific leader can help people to see that their jobs have more meaning than just, (in this case anyway), 'making and delivering pizzas'.

I'd also take responsibility for talking to my senior leaders about the system and its impact on the customer. Of how we aren't delivering 'come-back' service with the way the system is currently set up.

Motivating others isn't rocket-science folks. Every job has the potential to connect to something bigger if you look for it.

I love this story in Martin Seligman's book Authentic Happiness

He tells the story of being in a hospital at the bedside of a friend in a coma.

The Ward Orderly was busy moving paintings and prints around in the room, moving them from one spot to another until they looked just so. When Marty asked what he was doing the Orderly replied:

"My job. I'm an orderly here, but you see I'm part of the team responsible for the health of these patients. Even though Mr Miller hasn't been conscious since he arrived, when he does wake up I want to make sure he sees beautiful things right away".

The orderly has been able to shift his job into a higher calling - he had shifted it to something more than just a person who was on the end of a broom. He was making a real difference in the work that he did.

Have Your Say

How are you helping your people to become emotionally, and intellectually, committed to the goals of your organization and your team?

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