What to avoid when negotiating your salary

negotiatingMost of us do not change jobs often enough to hone our skills in terms of salary negotiations. Nor do we possess lots of experience when it comes to negotiating a better salary at our salary review time. As a result it is not uncommon for people to enter into negotiations on the basis of hearsay and/or dangerous misconceptions.

What follows are negotiating approaches that you should avoid. Some may sound great at the pub or over a dinner conversation and they may have even worked for an individual that you know but that does not mean they represent sound negotiating techniques.

1. Avoid the aggressive cowboy approach.

The cowboy approach describes that person who rushes into negotiations with his/her guns ablazing, i.e., the person who generally thinks that they’re irreplaceable which entitles them to ask for unreasonable amounts of money. The cowboy negotiator believes that an uncompromising approach to negotiating is the best approach and that showing signs of weakness will only serve to undermine their campaign. They either get what they demand or they’re out looking for another job (which is common). Unless you are, in fact, irreplaceable then steer clear from this approach. And even if you are irreplaceable I would recommend a more modest approach.

2. Equally as dangerous as the aggressive cowboy is the submissive saint.

This person does not want to rock the boat or upset anyone. They’re so anxious at keeping the peace they’re willing to accept less than what they deserve. In fact, the very thought of having to negotiate sends shivers up their spines. This approach may work with some employers, but on the whole submissive saints are generally liked and underpaid – and they know it.

3. Avoid playing the politician.

The politician promises the earth to get his/her extra money but then finds a million excuses on why they can’t deliver. Politicians have short-term victories, but these soon sour. Their bosses soon wake up to them and refuse to play their game. Politicians tend to lack credibility within the organization and are not highly regarded. If you make a commitment make sure you can keep it. Good negotiators think beyond short-term expediencies.

4. Avoid the “she’ll be right” syndrome.

In other words, moderate your reliance on your employer (unless, of course, you have an enlightened employer who has proven their worth). Whilst trust and cooperation in the workplace is an important ingredient for organisational success it should not be the overriding consideration when it comes to salary negotiations. Be sure you thoroughly prepare your case by ascertaining what the market is paying for people such as yourself and also be sure you can articulate clearly how you’ve added value (or will add value) to the organization.

5. Avoid playing the jealous sibling.

The jealous sibling finds out what other individuals are earning (within their organization as well as other organizations) and absolutely wants to be earning the same amount or more. Jealous siblings fail to take into consideration a whole lot of factors including their own abilities – on the whole they tend to overestimate their contributions. Whilst it’s great to know what the market is paying for your skills you shouldn’t be concerned about what other individuals are earning. Chances are that the figures you’re hearing are highly unreliable.

Salary negotiation tactics that work

Win with Salary Negotiation Tactics

Salary Negotiation Tactics

If you’re feeling nervous about negotiating a new salary or your yearly increment it might comfort you to know that you’re not alone. A recent survey indicated that 60% of Australian workers feel ill-equipped to deal with salary negotiations.

But it’s not all bad news. You’ll be pleased to know that with a little preparation you can dramatically improve your salary negotiation skills, and more importantly the level of your total salary package.

Tactic No 1
Be very aware of the fact that salary negotiations begin with the interview. The better you interview the more inclined will be the employer to give you extra money. So make sure you’re thoroughly prepared for the interview.

Tactic No 2
If you’re going for a job as an external candidate never be the first to talk about money – you’ll probably signal that your primary interest lies with money and not the job.

Tactic No 3
Delay talking about money as much as possible. The more you delay the better off you’ll be because you’ll have more time to establish your value to the organization. Once you’ve convinced them of how good you are then you’re in a much better position to negotiate more money.

Tactic No 4
Work out what the current market rates are for someone with your experience. If you don’t know what the market is paying you may be underselling or over pricing yourself. A great way to find out what you’re worth is through Monster’s Salary Calculator.

Tactic No 5
Know your bottom line. In any negotiation it’s important to know what line you’re not prepared to cross. By knowing your bottom line as well as the current market rates you’ll be in a good position to know where you can commence your negotiating.

Tactic No 6
If the employer insists that you make the first move a good rule of thumb is to make your opening bid between 10% and 30% above your bottom line. What percentage you pick will depend on several factors including how much they want you (assuming you know) and the state of the labour market. Generally speaking if there’s a big demand for your job and not much of a supply you may be in a good position to make your opening bid higher.

Tactic No 7
Always think win win. Try to negotiate an outcome that works for you as well as your employer. Exploiting a vulnerable employer may have short-term monetary benefits but will not hold you in good stead in the long term.

How to avoid nasty surprises at salary review time

Salary Negotiation Tips

Salary Negotiation Tips

A recent survey conducted by TMP indicated that about 50% of Australian workers believe they’re not getting a fair deal at their salary review time; and 75% of workers feel that their salary does not accurately reflect the work they do.

Understandably, we lay the responsibility of our salary short-falls squarely on the shoulders of the employers, however, there are definitely times when we can influence how much we earn. By being pro-active and showing some organisational nous you can increase your say in terms of your earning capacity and avoid those negative salary review surprises.

Here’s what to do:

1. Do not make the mistake of relying entirely on your manager to closely monitor your achievements/progress. Some managers might have the time to do this, but most are too busy doing other things. Regardless of whether your organization has a formal individual performance management plan in place make sure you closely monitor your own progress. Track your achievements by writing them down in your work diary. Do not just include your major achievements either. Smaller achievements when added up over a year or six months look very impressive.

By doing this you will at salary review time be able to produce a detailed and accurate record of all your achievements for the year. Such information is difficult to refute, especially by managers who haven’t been managing you properly.

2. Be sure you stay abreast of all the important changes and priorities of the organization. By knowing what’s important for the organization or section your work in you will be able to make better quality decisions; i.e., decisions which are more relevant and useful to your employer. Few things impress a manager more than an employee coming up with timely solutions that address an organisational priority.

3. Make sure you record your invisible but important contributions. Invisible contributions are those little things, which we generally do everyday and make a huge contribution to the running of the organization. They’re called invisible because no one knows you’ve done them and they’re important because without them the organization cannot function properly. All too often we’re not given any recognition for our invisible contributions. So it’s up to you to begin recording them along with your other achievements mentioned in section 1 above.

An example is: successfully handling an irate customer over the phone and thereby not losing them as a customer, not to mention preventing potential bad mouthing of your organisation (what could be more important to your employer?). Another example is providing consistently excellent customer service by doing the little things such as returning calls on time, taking the time to listen properly and explaining things clearly. If you think about it the list is virtually endless.

The key to recording invisible contributions is mentioning the outcome/s of your actions. Saying you diffused a difficult situation does not have the same impact as saying: “As a result of calming the customer down I was able to retain him on our books.”

4. Be sure that your manager is aware of your achievements and contributions on an on-going basis. Do not wait until salary review time before you surprise them with all your great work. A good manager should be having regular meetings with you to discuss your work, but unfortunately this does not always happen. So it’s up to you to make sure they’re kept informed of what you’re doing. Keeping them informed does not have to take place in formal situations. It can be as simple as mentioning it over the water cooler or sending them a quick email.

A Three Step Negotiation Process That Delivers Results.

negSalaryIt’s time for you to negotiate a pay increase. You’ve worked hard all year and you deserve it. What do you do?

Most people take a deep breath, walk into the boss’s office with cap in hand and humbly ask if they could have more money because, “Well…it’s been a year since my last increase and I’ve been working pretty hard.” This approach may work, but it’s demeaning and unprofessional. More importantly, it is not an approach that will maximise your outcomes.

A much more effective approach and one which allows you to keep more of your self-respect is as follows.

Step 1: Preparation

For effective salary negotiations you should prepare the following:
The facts
1. What the current market rate range is for someone in your industry and with your experience.
2. Your key achievements for the year including how you’ve added value to the company.  Feel free to collect as much information as you feel is necessary to make your point.

Your Objectives
Once you’ve collected your facts work out what your objectives are.  In other words, how much of an increase do you want and what is your absolute bottom line. Make sure your objectives are realistic.

Decide on a Strategy
1.  Decide on the best time to make your approach. Make an appointment with you boss or HR manager and tell him/her that you want to discuss your salary increase.
2.  Try to anticipate the other party’s counter arguments and what their needs are.
3.  Decide on what aspects of your package you’re prepared to be flexible with.
4.  Decide on what your opening/maximum bid will be.

Step 2: Discussion

If you prepared properly you’ll be in a much stronger position to enter into discussions. During the discussion:
• Attempt to have the other party open the bidding. Ask the question, “May I ask what sort of pay increase you’re thinking of giving this year?”
• Your opening bid should be your maximum position. Don’t apologise for it.
• Look for signals that may indicate a willingness to compromise. Try to work with those suggestions.
• Avoid inflexibility, be prepared to give and take.
• Try to work for a win/win outcome. Win/lose scenarios mean that one party feels hard done by. This is not a good long term strategy. Remember that you’re negotiating with people that you work with.
• Make sure you practise effective interpersonal communication skills. Never raise your voice or show signs of anger no matter how badly you think the other side is behaving. Stay in control by sticking to your strategy.

Step 3: Closing

This should be relatively simple but many people leave important details unresolved (such as when the increase will take effect). When closing make sure you get a firm and clear commitment to everything you’ve agreed on. Seek clarification on:
• Timing of increase/s
• The specifics of any conditions that need to be met. It’s very important to be as specific as you can otherwise you may run into interpretation problems later on.

To help you do this you can say, “Thank you for your offer/s. Before I leave I’d quickly like to confirm exactly what it is that we’ve agreed upon just in case I’ve misunderstood some of the points made.”

Or you could say, “Thank you for your offers. I’ll put all this in writing and have it on your desk by tomorrow.”

Good luck!

How you say things at interviews is just as important as what you say.

crossedArmsDid you know that…
Communication experts tell us that only about 10% of our communication is represented by what we say. Another 30% is represented by our sounds and 60% by our body language!

Obviously what you say at an interview will go a long way to securing you the job. However, how you say things also plays an extremely important role. In fact, some experts strongly contend that how you say things is more important.

As a job seeker it’s your responsibility to ensure that you prepare for both. Below you’ll find five very useful tips on how you should be saying things at an interview. Follow these tips carefully and you’ll definitely improve your chances of winning that job. Good luck!

1. Avoid saying anything that does not put you in a positive light: You’d be surprised how many people are critical of themselves at an interview. They’re just shooting themselves in the foot. Research shows that negative comments are:

a) remembered more easily and
b) attract follow up questions! The last thing anyone needs at an interview is follow up questions on negative points.

2. Don’t just talk about your skills and experience, try also to show how they can benefit your new employer: Try to think of ways your skills and knowledge will benefit the company. Putting yourself in the shoes of an employer really helps. Here’s a tip: All employers are very interested in: productivity improvements (efficiency), improved customer service, attention to detail and quality and flexibility.

Here’s an example for you: “My extensive skills in Word and Powerpoint means that I will be able to complete many of my duties quicker and with less mistakes than they are currently being completed. This will release me to assist you in other areas.”

3. Avoid timid or uncertain language: Because of cultural norms we tend to use slightly belittling language when asked to talk about our strengths. For example: We often use expressions such as: I feel I could, I think I could, Perhaps I would. All these statements weaken the statements that follow so avoid them as much as possible. There’s a big difference between “I feel I could do a good job” and “I could do a good job.”

4. Use examples as much as possible: Where ever possible try to use examples of what you’ve done rather than just using descriptors. Examples are entertaining and remembered more easily! If, for example, you’re asked to describe yourself, instead of saying things like: fair, honest and hardworking use examples that demonstrate these qualities.

Here’s an example for you: “ If we’re busy at work I’m happy to stay back until the work is completed. I feel guilty about leaving things half done and going home. Also, if there’s a problem at work I’m the sort of person who prefers to gently bring it out in the open rather than turning a blind eye or sweeping it under the carpet. Experience had taught me that problems not dealt with quickly tend to get a lot worse.”

5. How to be humble: If you feel that “I” statements are beyond you or that your intuition is telling you that you might be coming across as a little too bold there is a technique on getting your message across strongly but at the same time maintaining an acceptable level of humility. That technique involves using the third person. For example, instead of saying: “I’m a hard worker.” You can say, “My boss always used to say how hard I worked.”

Good luck!

It’s the little things stupid

stupidHere’s a short story with a big lesson:

Bob, the manager of a team, when coming into work every morning would spend the first five minutes of his day talking to Steve. The only reason Bob did this was because he and Steve were passionate football fans and they happened to support the same team. They also went out to lunch together at least once a week. Bob, of course, happily greeted everyone else in his team but did not spend the same amount of time chatting with them.

A few months later, there was an opportunity for a promotion within the team and Bob, after a rigorous selection process selected Steve for the promotion. Bob genuinely felt that Steve was the best person for the job.

Over the next few weeks Bob had several of his team members request a transfer out of his team. One of his team handed in her resignation. Bob was experienced enough to know that the loss of even one good team member represented a blow to the efficiency of his team, but to lose so many within a short space of time was nothing short of disastrous.

It didn’t take long for Bob to discover (to his utter shock and bewilderment) that the reason his team members wanted to leave was because they felt that he was not a fair and equitable manager. Word soon got out that he played favourites and lacked impartiality. Some of the women in his team even accused him of discriminating against them. Bob’s team members felt that no matter what they did or how hard they tried they would never get ahead while he was their boss because he was not a fair manager.

The sad and frightening thing about this story is that Bob was never an unfair manager who played favourites. In fact, he secretly prided himself on his impartiality. He went to great lengths to rate staff strictly on their merit. So when he found out that he had acquired a reputation for being unfair he was dumbfounded and very disheartened. What went wrong?

Bob failed to grasp the old adage that perception is reality. By spending more time with Steve than with other team members and then promoting him, Bob created the perception that Steve’s promotion was based purely on their friendship, not Steve’s ability.

When Bob finally worked out where he went wrong his first and lasting reaction was the realisation of the enormous importance of small and seemingly trivial gestures in the workplace. By chatting with Steve for five minutes in the morning (and not doing the same with the others) Bob inadvertently created the perception that Steve was one of his favourites. This was confirmed in the minds of his staff when he promoted Steve.

It is vitally important to understand that as a manager of people your actions are carefully scrutinised in the workplace. Like it or not the minute you begin treating some staff members differently than others you are venturing into very risky territory. Small things can make a difference. In Bob’s case it made a big difference.

Not all situations where managers are perceived to be unfair end up as badly as Bob’s. However, where staff feel they are being treated unfairly or with diminished levels of respect there is a significant chance that they will adopt an attitude of “it doesn’t really matter how hard I try, I’m never going to be treated fairly, so why should I bother working harder”.

The difference between an inspiring leader and a leader that de-motivates people often boils down to the small gestures made on a daily basis – not the grand gesture made once a year.

Here are some other small gestures that make a big difference. Ignore them at your peril:

1. Never say you’ll do something only to put it off or never do – even with the seemingly trivial. For example, if you tell one of your staff members that you will ring them the following day make sure you ring the following day. Not to do so (no matter how small a matter it is in your mind) signals to your staff member that they’re not important enough for you to keep your word. Would you tell your boss, or an important client, that you will ring them the following day and then you don’t?

2. Avoid constantly rescheduling meetings or being late for them. Do you keep on rescheduling meetings with more “important” people?

3. Be aware of your body language. Avoid showing deferential body language towards your boss and dismissive body language towards your staff. For example, many of us will tend to sit up properly in our chair if our boss walks into our work space but we tend not to do the same when a staff member does.

4. Take the time to prepare for your meetings with your staff. Chances are that you prepare for meetings with your boss. Why not with your staff?

5. Do you ever try to impress your boss or an important client? Why not apply the same principle with your staff? Write down three good ways you can impress your staff and then stick to them.

Remember: it’s the little gestures made on a daily basis that make a big difference to your staffs’ loyalty and levels of respect towards you.

You are the Role Model

greatLeadershipLike it or not, as a manager of people your behaviours are scrutinised by your staff. Of course, they won’t tell you this, but rest assured your actions and communication style are all being watched carefully. Furthermore (and this is the important point) your behaviour often sets an important example for how others can behave in your team.

Research shows a manager’s behaviours play a significant role in setting the tone or culture of a team or even an organisation. It is not uncommon for staff to feel that they have been given “permission” to behave in a way that is similar to the manager’s. In other words, staff often copy the behaviours of their managers.  If, for example, you make a habit of being dismissive of staff, do not be surprised to see similar behaviours being displayed by, say, your second in charge with respect to his/her immediate reports, who in turn do the same with their reports.

Similarly, do not expect your staff to follow your directions when you say one thing but do another. For example, if you pronounce to your staff the importance of customer service but at the same time, via your actions, demonstrate poor customer service and/or bad mouth your customers do not be surprised to discover that the culture of your organisation is one which undermines high levels of customer service.

This copying of leaders’ behaviours, experts agree, is one way businesses (small and large) develop their internal cultures, which have an enormous impact upon the performance of an organisation. In fact, the culture of an organisation can often make the difference between a thriving and enjoyable place to work as opposed to an inefficient and bleak workplace. It is not an exaggeration to say that a business’s culture can make the difference between success and failure.

Smart leaders/managers are acutely aware that they are role models and that their behaviours are a major determinant of their organization’s culture and therefore performance. These leaders demonstrate behaviours designed to bring out the best in their staff. They avoid any sort of behaviour that may de-motivate staff or lay the seeds of a negative business culture. Ineffective leaders, on the other hand, are unaware of the importance of their personal behaviours or simply don’t care.

A list of good business behaviours for managers

• Avoid whingeing or negative statements. When things go wrong, tackle the problems with a positive, can-do attitude
• As much as possible avoid blaming others when things go wrong. You don’t want to develop a culture of finger pointing every time something goes awry. When things go wrong instead of pointing the finger, say: What can I do to help you so that this doesn’t happen again?
• Always praise staff when they do something special.
• Treat all staff scrupulously fairly. At all costs avoid creating the perception of having favourites. You don’t want to create an Us vs Them culture or a culture where some staff feel like outsiders or second class citizens.
• Avoid saying one thing but doing another.
• Never promise what you can’t deliver.
• Always treat your staff with dignity and respect. Staff who just aren’t performing despite your best efforts to help them can be let go, but never in a way that humiliates them. Remember, others are watching.
• Make time to listen to your staff and customers. Create processes by which listening to your stakeholders becomes the norm not the exception.
• When you make a mistake don’t be afraid to admit it.

Improving Staff Performance and Motivation through Job Design

improvingJobDesignOne of my favourite sayings in the field of people management is: If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do.

As managers of people, I think it is very important that we gain a basic understanding of what truly motivates people at work. Why? Simply because highly motivated staff are arguably the most valuable resource a business owner / manager can have. Motivated staff nearly always outperform staff who lack motivation.

If you want people to do a good job, give them a good job to do. The idea underpinning this sentence is simple – people are highly motivated by intrinsically rewarding and gratifying work. In short, satisfying and fulfilling work turns people on. It stimulates their brain cells and retains their interest. They’ll go home and talk enthusiastically about their work (driving their friends and families crazy) and even do extra work from home.

Research consistently shows that many people leave comparatively high paid jobs for lesser paid ones in order to achieve the daily satisfaction a good job gives them.

The key question for managers of people is: What is a good job? Fortunately, lots of work has been done to answer this question, and what is more, it ain’t rocket science. According to one of the most recognised theories in the field of job design, a job will keep staff keen and motivated if it contains four characteristics. These are:

1. Variety
The less variety a job has the more mentally fatiguing it is. People lose interest and quickly become distracted by other things. They also tend to make more mistakes. Some employers try to keep their jobs simple and repetitive because it’s easier to train and/or replace staff – then they wonder why they can’t keep their good staff.

2. Starting and finishing a job
People derive a great deal of satisfaction in seeing a job through to the end. People are much happier when they can see the fruits of their labour. They can point to a finished job and say with pride, I did that. The carpenter who designs the job, selects the wood, builds the furniture and completes it to a high standard will derive a lot more satisfaction than the person who just operates a wood lathe all day.

3. Task Significance
People want to know that what they do at work is important. We all want a feeling of contribution and involvement. As a manager of people it is important that your people understand what they’re doing has significance for the business. Giving a person a task to do and allowing that person to think that the task is trivial or unimportant is sending all the wrong signals. It can be tantamount to “telling” them that they’re unimportant and not worthy of important work. A smart manager will articulate to the person who sweeps the floors how important that task is.

4. Autonomy
People enjoy having a say in how they do their jobs. They enjoy the freedom of making decisions and having a sense of ownership over the tasks they’re performing. This does not mean you throw people in the deep end. It is important that people have the required skills and knowledge as well as an understanding of the parameters in which they can operate. Once these two things are in place you need to trust people to make their own decisions. Micro-managers (i.e., managers who constantly peer over people’s shoulders) tend to be universally disliked. They also tend to be inefficient managers.

What you can do
In an ideal world every job would have lots of variety, autonomy, task significance etc. We all know, however, that the realities of the work place sometimes make it difficult to design highly motivating jobs. Nevertheless, this should not prevent you from making changes where you can. Often, incremental changes are the best way to go. Over a period of time lots of small changes add up to big changes. Also, it’s important to explain your intentions to your staff before taking any action. Make sure they understand what it is you’re trying to achieve, otherwise your efforts may be misinterpreted as you trying to give them extra work. Above all, it is important that you demonstrate persistence. Don’t throw in the towel at the first obstacle; and get used to celebrating small changes. Do this and you will be rewarded by staff who are demonstrating greater motivation and interest in their work. Their performance will improve and there’s a good chance that your stress levels will lower correspondingly. Best of luck!

5 Things You Can Do To Improve Staff Motivation and Retention

5ThingsTN

Five simple strategies on motivating and retaining good staff

Employers often go to considerable lengths and expense to recruit great people. However, when questioned about their people motivation and retention strategies these same employers often have little to say. Given the importance of staff motivation and retention to key business performance indicators such as customer service, quality control, productivity levels and corporate memory it is important that you, as a manager of people, have a well constructed and effective people motivation and retention strategy in place.

Notice that I’m using the words motivation and retention in the same sentence. It is important to understand that the two are, in fact, inseparable when it comes to retaining good staff. Why? Simply because if you keep your staff motivated and interested in their work you significantly increase your chances of keeping them. In short, motivated staff tend to enjoy their work and therefore do not want to leave as much as unmotivated staff.

Also, you may be in a position where you don’t have staff retention problems, but your staff are not as motivated or keen as you would like. The most effective businesses not only retain good staff but the staff they have are highly motivated to do a good job.

What is more, staff motivation relies very little on money including bonuses and pay for performance schemes. As long you’re paying your people an amount that is comparable to market rates money should not enter the equation.

Importantly, there are two pieces of very good news. The first is that implementing such a motivation and retention strategy is not difficult. You don’t need a degree in psychology or organisational development to implement a simple but effective strategy. Much of it relies on good old common sense and universal principles governing human relations.

The second piece of good news is that a staff motivation and retention strategy does not have to cost you big dollars. In fact, it will save you significant amounts.

What follows is a user friendly, 5 point plan to achieve higher levels of staff motivation and retention. The more of these points you can implement the better off you will be.

Point 1 Keep simple statistics on how many people leave, when they leave and why

Keep simple statistics on your staff turnover and the reason people are leaving. This information will eventually prove a great source of information allowing you to better target your actions. Graphs are great because they’re easy to follow. You should be keeping statistics on the following:

• Your annual turnover of staff

• If you employ over 100 people you may also want to keep a monthly record of turnover. Monthly staff turnover graphs can quickly reveal patterns in seasonal turnover. If, for example, you notice a rise in turnover during certain months of the year you may be able to take preventative action for the next time.

• Why people leave. Design a simple Exit Interview and insist that all staff who leave fill it out just before they leave. Whilst not foolproof, exit interviews give you a much better insight of why people are leaving. It is important that the exit interview is designed and implemented properly, otherwise you may get misleading information (see The Recruitment Alternative’s article on what a good exit interview looks like, you’ll find it in the HR Information for Employers page).

• Keep statistics on the most common reasons people are leaving your company.

Point 2 Ensure that your managers including yourself receive training on how to manage staff

• A common mistake many companies make is promoting good staff to a management position without giving them the required training. As you probably know, managing staff can be a very challenging duty. It takes some people years to do it properly. To thrust a person into a management position without the proper training is asking for trouble.

Point 3 Set up staff feedback surveys. Give staff the opportunity to safely (anonymously) let you know what they think about matters that are important to them.

• Do these surveys every six months and make sure you follow up. Let staff know that you’ve read their issues and what you’re going to do about them. The worst thing you can do is keep silent about the results. It is important that staff feel safe about providing honest feedback. If they can be identified chances are that they will only tell you what they think you want to hear.

Point 4 Always implement the Golden Rule: Treat staff with the utmost dignity and respect

• Dignity and respect means things like:

o Praising staff when they deserve it
o Always be open and honest with them
o Never raise our voice to staff
o Never embarrass or humiliate staff
o At all cost avoid creating the impression that you have favourites because the non-favoured will feel excluded and like second class citizens
o Always do what you say you will do
o Be prepared to admit your mistakes

•Even if your staff make mistakes, that’s no excuse to talk down to them or belittle them. If you think about it, there’s a good chance that you’re partly responsible for their mistakes.

Point 5 Try as much as possible to give your staff work that is interesting

•Repetitive work with little variety should be avoided as much as possible. Sometimes it is difficult to avoid such work, however, try to spread it amongst staff so no one is stuck with all of it. Work that brings out the best in people includes the following characteristics:

o Variety
o Autonomy
o Task Significance – which means people feel that what they do is important
o Feedback – people want feedback on their work, either by way of a manager giving them feedback or by being able to start and finish a job and being able to take pride in their work. In the latter case the completion of a good job is the feedback.

One of my favourite sayings

goodjobOne of my favourite sayings in the field of people management goes like this: If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do. I still remember the powerful impression this simple sentence made on me when I first came across it years ago when I was learning about what motivates people in the work place.

As managers of people, I think it is very important that we gain a basic understanding of what truly motivates people at work. Why? Simply because highly motivated staff are arguably the most valuable resource a business owner / manager can have.

But before we go any further let’s finally put to rest one of the great myths in the modern workplace, i.e., that money is the key motivator. Unfortunately, many managers still labour under the belief that if they pay their people enough money they’ll be highly motivated and perform wonderfully. If you’re one of these managers then chances are that you’re overpaying your staff and still not getting the performance you’d really like. I would be a truly rich man if I were given a penny for all the times I’ve heard frustrated managers express dissatisfaction about their staffs’ performance despite paying them above market rates.

I’m not arguing that money isn’t important. We all know it plays an important role in attracting and retaining the right people. But attracting and retaining people is not the same as keeping them motivated and enthusiastic about their jobs. The key to a great employee is not just their skill and experience levels, but how willing they are to come to work and how motivated they are to do a good job. If you’re relying on just money, then chances are you’re experiencing problems.

Back to our saying: If you want people to do a good job, give them a good job to do. The idea underpinning this sentence is simple – people are highly motivated by rewarding and gratifying work. In short, satisfying and fulfilling work turns people on. It stimulates their brain cells and retains their interest. They’ll go home and talk enthusiastically about their work (driving their friends and families crazy) and even do extra work from home.

Research consistently shows that it is not uncommon for people to leave a relatively highly paid job for a lesser paid one in order to achieve the daily satisfaction a good job gives them. Here’s what Frank Greer said about his job:

Everyday was the same thing…Put the right passenger seat into Jeeps as they came down the assembly line, pop in four bolts locking the seat frame to the car body, and then tighten the bolts with my electric wrench. Thirty cars and 120 bolts an hour, eight hours a day. I didn’t care that they were paying me $17 an hour. I was going crazy. I did it for almost a year and a half. Finally, I just said to my wife that this isn’t going to be the way I’m going to spend the rest of my life. So I quit. Now I work in a print shop and I make less than $12 and hour. But let me tell you, the work I do is really interesting. It challenges me! I look forward every morning to going to work again. *

The key question for managers of people is: What is a good job? Fortunately, lots of work has been done to answer this question, and what is more, it ain’t rocket science. According to one of the most recognised theories in the field of job design, a job will keep staff keen and motivated if it contains four characteristics. These are:

1. Variety
The less variety a job has the more mentally fatiguing it is. People lose interest and quickly become distracted by other things. They also tend to make more mistakes. Some employers try to keep their jobs simple and repetitive because it’s easier to train and/or replace staff – then they wonder why they can’t keep their good staff.

2. Starting and finishing a job
People derive a great deal of satisfaction in seeing a job through to the end. People are much happier when they can see the fruits of their labour. They can point to a finished job and say with pride, I did that. The carpenter who designs the job, selects the wood, builds the furniture and completes it to a high standard will derive a lot more satisfaction than the person who just operates a wood lathe all day.

3. Task Significance
People want to know that what they do at work is important. We all want a feeling of contribution and involvement. As a manager of people it is important that your people understand what they’re doing has significance for the business. Giving a person a task to do and allowing that person to think that the task is trivial or unimportant is sending all the wrong signals. It can be tantamount to “telling” them that they’re unimportant and not worthy of important work. A smart manager will articulate to the person who sweeps the floors how important that task is.

4. Autonomy
People enjoy having a say in how they do their jobs. They enjoy the freedom of making decisions and having a sense of ownership over the tasks they’re performing. This does not mean you throw people in the deep end. It is important that people have the required skills and knowledge as well as an understanding of the parameters in which they can operate. Once these two things are in place you need to trust people to make their own decisions. Micro-managers (i.e., managers who constantly peer over people’s shoulders) tend to be universally disliked. They also tend to be inefficient managers.

What you can do…
In an ideal world every job would have lots of variety, autonomy, task significance etc. We all know, however, that the realities of the work place sometimes make it difficult to design highly motivating jobs. Nevertheless, this should not prevent you from making changes where you can. Often, incremental changes are the best way to go. Over a period of time lots of small changes add up to big changes. Also, it’s important to explain your intentions to your staff first. Make sure they understand what it is you’re trying to achieve, otherwise your efforts may be misinterpreted as you trying to give them extra work.  One great idea is to seek your staffs’ opinions about how you can make jobs more interesting whilst not jeapordising efficiency and quality.

Above all, it is important that you demonstrate persistence. Don’t throw in the towel at the first obstacle; and get used to celebrating small changes. Do this and you will be rewarded by staff who are demonstrating greater motivation and interest in their work. Their performance will improve and there’s a good chance that your stress levels will lower correspondingly. Best of luck!

* Source: Organisational Behaviour, Concepts, Controversies and Applications; Stephen P Robbins, Terry Water-Marsh, Ron Cacioppe and Bruce Millett, Prentice Hall, 1994.