Motivation is Vital

In the last blog, I explained how we’d helped Additup Accountancy Ltd to put in place an efficient recruitment process, allowing them to recruit the best people that they can, and retain them.  Now, a failure to retain personnel can cause a small business no end of problems as one person leaving out of a team of five means that you’ve just lost 20% of your personnel.  In a small team, everyone tends to “pitch in” and do a bit of everything and, consequently, a lot of information tends to be held in people’s heads.  The reason that this is a problem is that when someone leaves, not only is the impact greater than in a large business, the knowledge that they have tends to be lost with them.  Now, I’ll cover how to capture and retain your “organisational knowledge and knowhow” in a later blog, but here, I’m going to cover ways that you can prevent personnel leaving in the first place.  After all, isn’t prevention better than cure?

I was working with a company that makes boxes for packaging specialist car parts that are shipped around the world, we’ll call them Boxes4You Ltd.  They had begun to have a problem with loss of personnel, which resulted in delayed order deliveries, which resulted in complaints from the customers, which resulted in the managers “cracking the whip”, which resulted in people becoming de-motivated, which resulted in loss of personnel.  You can see how that situation could spiral into complete failure of the business.

The first thing that we did was talk to the senior managers about how they were motivating the personnel in their teams.  One bright spark said, “Why do they need motivating?  They get paid, don’t they?”  Not one of life’s great managers, I suggest.  The rest of the senior management team answered in a similar way.  Oh, dear.  So, we agreed that we would hold some short training sessions on the importance of motivation within the company.

The start of the process was to establish how the managing director and owner of the business, and the managers at various levels within the organisation, monitored the behaviours within their teams.  Broadly, the answer was that they didn’t.  In effect, they watched from a distance and only intervened if something happened that they didn’t like.  The result was that they were seen as “standoffish” and their presence in the warehouse became associated with punishment rather than praise.

At one the training sessions, I asked the attendees (managers and those who reported to them) to write down their three greatest motivators.  Then I asked Bill what motivated his subordinate, John, who was sat across the table from him.  Bill responded in a somewhat sarcastic way, “Well, I might be naïve, but I assume that John is motivated by the same thing that I am: money!”  It shouldn’t be a surprise to you to learn that “money” wasn’t even on John’s list of things that motivated him.  The reason that Bill didn’t know that was that he had never bother to ask John what motivated him.

To quote Clarence Francis (1888 – 1985)

You can buy a person’s tim
You can buy their physical presence at a given place
You can even buy a measured number of their skilled muscular motions per hour
You cannot buy enthusiasm
You cannot buy loyalty
You cannot buy the devotion of hearts, minds or souls
…you must earn these

A motivated person will want to do a good job in spite of instead of because of the fact that you pay them.  You can pay everyone, but the most motivated individuals are the ones who will “do you proud”.  Also, they will be less inclined to leave.  The one thing that ALL businesses do is pay their personnel.  If you have nothing else to differentiate your working environment from anyone else’s, then what is it that will hold you team together?

Think it through.  Ask your people what motivates them and then give it to them, within reason of course.  That way you will be well on your way to earning their loyalty, which is something that you definitely cannot buy.