How to Motivate Employees

To Want to Deliver Excellent Service

Here's how to motivate employees, so they get and then remain engaged with the work you have on offer ... even if it is simply delivering pizza!

Discover how to motivate employees, with simple conversations!


Let me start with a story that illustrates how motivation (or more correctly said, how lack of motivation) looks in most organizations.

Friday night is often Pizza night at our house.

Years ago, we had friends coming over for pizza and movie night. We decided to use the pre-order function of Pizza Hut. We ordered the pizza at 5pm for a 6.30pm delivery. And, to be clear, this was pre Uber-Eats or Deliveroo - which has caused companies like Pizza Hut to lift their game.  However the story still has relevance today... so keep reading!

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 engaged in delivering excellent customer service): "Well at the moment you are the representative of Pizza Hut 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 cranky pants 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 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: (ok by now cranky pants voice is starting to edge-in!), "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 (and I'm going to give you the short version here of our conversation)

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. 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"

Throughout this conversation, I felt for this young leader. You could hear her frustration and desire to help. She felt as powerless as the driver.

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

Now, that whole interaction got me to thinking.

The driver 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. He didn't see himself as being at the leading-edge for customer-service of the Pizza Hut organization.

From where did his disengagement come?

His leader of course! From where did her disengagement come? 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.

Disengagement Comes From the Immediate Leader

I looked up the Mission Statement of Pizza Hut, 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 Pizza Hut's careers page. That, again, reads in part,

"To eat. To laugh. To share. That's why people come to Pizza Hut, and it's our job to make them feel like family. We do it with a smile, teamwork and lots of laughs."

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

Your Internal Compass Must Not be an Academic Exercise

For many people, an organization's Internal Compass (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).

High-performance leaders know that using their Vision and Values on a daily basis, to drive their decision-making and behaviors is a cornerstone to delivering outstanding results. 

You see, there is a direct relationship between the results you get as an organization and the values and guiding principles you use.  Regardless, of whether you are using the stated values and principles or using the role modeled ones.

The things you focus upon, the way you make decisions all create the culture.

Your culture drives how well you achieve your Vision and Results.

If each leader in the chain of this large multi-national had been applying their Internal Compass - I would never have received the poor customer experience I did.

Most people want to belong to an organization, in which they can feel like they are part of a team.

They 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! 

For people to feel inspired, they want to know that their job matters and how they fit into the overall picture. And they need the systems and processes that enable them to do their work with pride.

You'll get emotional and intellectual commitment to the business' success

when people know what success means - beyond their limited job description.

The first rule in how to motivate employees...

Help People To See How They Make A Difference

For people to feel inspired, they want to know that their job matters and how they fit into the overall picture.

Knowing your job matters and how it fits into the organisation's overall success are two components of the first B of our 4Bs of high-performance framework: Believing

You'll get emotional and intellectual commitment to the business' success when people know what success means - beyond their limited job description.

You see, delivering Pizza's may seem like a dead-end job to many folks. But imagine if your team leader inspired you 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. You are part of the team helping them to 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 talk to them about how: 'at the end of a busy, maybe sometimes stressful week, 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. They have had a tough week. If you were living our values of family, inspiring people to smile and feel happy, how would you greet them?  What could you say to that person that caused them to smile and feel happy for a moment?  How would that make you feel? How would that make them feel? '

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 shifting her to thinking about lucky she is. What impact might that have on the family for the rest of the night? 

You see, the thing is you 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 can't imagine.'

I'd maybe talk to my team about how,

'If we want to make this an excellent 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.

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.

Here's the truth. Only 2% of people who read this article will act on and apply what you've just discovered 

Those conversations don't have to be long,

they just have to be regular,

because if being a "Rockstar Leader" were easy

every one would be doing it! 

It takes commitment to transformation -

of your self and others to make you a Rockstar Leader

so, are you going to be in the 98% who nods their head and say good ideas and moves on?

Or one of the 2% who makes the commitment to excellence and takes action?


Here's What the Researchers Tell Us!

Adam Grant, from the Wharton School of Business, conducted a study at a call centre. The team were tasked with raising donations, from alumni, to support the college's scholarship funds. He split the call centre team members into three groups.

The first group was the control group - given no special instructions.

The second group read documents about what other employees felt were the benefits of working for this organization.

The third group read documents from their end-customers. The people who received the scholarships. These documents detailed how the students had benefited from the scholarships.

At the end of the experiment, he found no difference in performance within the first two groups. However, the 3rd group's performance went from getting, on average, nine pledges per week to 23. And, their average donations grew from $1,200 per week to $3,000.

Being touched by the stories of their end-customers inspired these team members to make more calls each hour.

What does this mean for you? Remind people frequently how their work matters. 

For example, collect customer testimonials. As often as possible put testimonials in front of your team members. Maybe in your team meetings put sharing testimonials as a regular agenda item. A weaker way to do it is to put them on your bulletin board and newsletter.

Get Your Customers to Tell Their Story

You could go one step further and get customers to come in, or to make a quick FaceTime recording on their iPhone. You want your customers to let your team know how what they do impacts on them.

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