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Newsletter: February 2010

The Trick to Motivating People

Many business owners, managers and team leaders will relate to this story. The speaker was a small business entrepreneur [SME] needing to rapidly expand his company to service a large contract and suddenly faced with the need to employ staff to provide the service.

What's the concern in this? The reality check is that these staff won't be sitting back in the office doing the support work; they'll be out dealing with the new client. They'll be the face of the business. So how could he be sure that he'd get the right people for the job and how could he ensure they did their job well and represented the company reliably. Already he'd had a bad experience when he employed a receptionist-administration person who contrived to make numerous mistakes, causing him embarrasment with clients.

The concerns are common, whether for the SME or a larger business. How can you make sure staff do the best job for you? You can't be there all the time, so how can you get staff to use their common sense, bring concerns to your attention, or take the initiative to address problems? Recruitment of talented staff is only a small part of the answer; far more depends on what happens once they start working for you.

How do you motivate staff to do their best for you? Are finanical incentives the answer? Performance bonuses are under the microscope at this moment as executive salaries are brought under control, but at the lower end of the scale, where ethics and morality are not necessarily the issue, do financial incentives work?

Are there other types of incentives or rewards that will work? Do they keep staff committed to your business, to your team, to you? Or are punitive measures a better option: blaming people for their mistakes. The carrot and stick approach to staff management is not uncommon and yet we know from staff survey research, they don't work now and probably never have . The reason why is grounded in the sort of work we do now, what staff expect from their work and what you expect from your staff.

Book cover - Drive: The suprising truth about what motivates us

Dan Pink, a career analyst, in his latest book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us draws on scientific research to explain what motivates people today: why rewards work only when there is a clear set of rules and a clear definition of the goal; how in the 21st century, solutions are not so obvious and we need right brain conceptual thinking to find them. People are motivated, he says, by the need to do things because they matter, because we like it and they are interesting and because they are part of something important. Those three drivers that motivate us:

  • Autonomy - the urge to direct our own lives
  • Mastery - the desire to get better and better at something that matters
  • Purpose - a yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

The questions then for that SME and for any manager or team leader are not what incentives can I offer to persuade my staff to work well or what will I do if they do the wrong thing by me. Far better questions to meet the criteria above might be:

Purpose: What can I tell them about my business so they understand what I am trying to achieve and how important they are for that goal?

Mastery: How can I help them to achieve the skills they need to master their area of expertise while also adding value to my business?

Autonomy: What can I do to allow my staff freedom to do their jobs, without micro supervision? How can I encourage staff to come up with new ideas for my business? How can I confidently delegate work, and leave myself free to do my own work?

Daniel Pink on the surprising science of motivation

See the video >>>

Coaching Skills for Workplace Leaders

Develop the skills that motivate staff and build positive working relationships. Learn how to:

  • Identify individual strengths – valuing people, to encourage their contributions
  • Communicate clearly - to establish your expectations
  • Ask questions instead of giving directions
  • Use a structured coaching framework to establish goals and action plans
  • Reach agreement with staff on performance standards

This program has been recognised by the AQTF as equivalent to two units in the Training Package BSB 40807 Certificate IV in Frontline Management.

Contact us now for a confidential discussion.

Worth Reading & Seeing

One hour/per day = one book/per week
= 52 books/per year!

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Dan Pink explains what drives us at work and at home today, and provides strategies for motivating people today.

Read about the book >>>


Can you recommend a book or video - just a short paragraph and include the purchase details.

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The purpose of this Newsletter

Positive Change Consulting shows people how to build great leadership, manage change, improve teamwork for business productivity – and restore balance to your life.

In this newsletter we aim to alert you to the latest research into leadership, report people-related workplace news, suggest ways for encouraging staff involvement to improve your business and alert you to the things we are doing and the services we can offer you.

Disclaimer: any links provided are for your information only. They do not consititute an endorsement by us. So, please ensure that you fully investigate any materials/offers/information presented before entering into any contracts or agreements to ensure that they meet your individual needs. Positive Change Consulting cannot accept responsibility for your choices.

Positive Change Consulting

ABN 96 095 506 924

Jennifer McCoy

Jennifer McCoy Director & Principal Consultant

Tony Austin
Director & Administration Manager

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