Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success. — Explorer Ernest Shackleton in a 1890 job ad for the first Antarctic expedition
A person's motivation is a combination of desire and energy directed at achieving a goal. It is the cause of action. Influencing someone's motivation means getting them to want to do what you know must be done. (U.S. Army Handbook, 1973)
A person's motivation depends upon two things:
- The strength of certain needs. For example, you are hungry, but you must have a task completed by a nearing deadline. If you are starving you will eat. If you are slightly hungry you will finish the task at hand.
- The perception that taking a certain action will help satisfy those needs. For example, you have two burning needs — the desire to complete the task and the desire to go to lunch. Your perception of how you view those two needs will determine which one takes priority. If you believe that you could be fired for not completing the task, you will probably put off lunch and complete the task. If you believe that you will not get into trouble or perhaps finish the task in time, then you will likely go to lunch.
People can be motivated by such forces as beliefs, values, interests, fear, and worthy causes. Some of these forces are internal, such as needs, interests, and beliefs. Others are external, such as danger, the environment, or pressure from a loved one. There is no simple formula for motivation — you must keep a open viewpoint on human nature. There is a complex array of forces steering the direction of each person and these forces cannot always be seen or studied. In addition, if the same forces are steering two different people, each one may act differently. Knowing that each person may react to different needs will guide your decisions and actions in certain situations.
As a leader you have the power to influence motivation. The following guidelines form a basic view of motivation (U.S. Army Handbook, 1973). They will help guide your decision making process:
Allow the needs of your team to coincide with the needs of your organization
Nearly everyone is influenced by the needs for job security, promotion, raises, and approval of their peers and/or leaders. They are also influenced by internal forces such as values morals, and ethics. Likewise, the organization needs good people in a wide variety of jobs. Ensure that your team is trained, encouraged, and has opportunities to advance. Also, ensure that the way you conduct business has the same values, moral, and ethic principles that you seek in others. If you conduct business in a dishonest manner, your team will be dishonest to you, for that will be the kind of people that you will attract.
Reward good behavior
Although a certificate, letter, or a thank you may seem small and insignificant, they can be powerful motivators. The reward should be specific and prompt. Do not say something general, such as “for doing a good job,” rather cite the specific action that made you believe it was indeed a good job. In addition, help those who are good. We all make mistakes or need help on occasion to achieve a particular goal.
Set the example
You must be the role model that you want others to grow into.
Develop morale and esprit de corps
Morale is the mental, emotional, and spiritual state of a person. Almost everything you do will have an impact on your organization. You should always be aware how your actions and decisions might affect it. Esprit de corps means team spirit — it is defined as the spirit of the organization or collective body (in French it literally means “spirit of the body”). It is the consciousness of the organization that allows the people within it to identify with and feel a part of. Is your workplace a place where people cannot wait to get away from; or is it a place that people enjoy spending a part of their lives?
Allow your team to be part of the planning and problem solving process
This helps with their development and allows you to coach them. Secondly, it motivates them — people who are part of the decision making process become the owners of it, thus it gives them a personal interest in seeing the plan succeed. Thirdly, communication is clearer as everyone has a better understanding of what role they must play as part of the team. Next, it creates an open trusting communication bond. They are no longer just the doers for the organization — they are now part of it! Finally, recognition and appreciation from a respected leader are powerful motivators.
Look out for your team
Although you do not have control over their personal lives, you must show concern for them. Things that seem of no importance to you might be extremely critical to them. You must be able to empathize with them. This is from the German word, einfuhling, which means “to feel with”, or the ability to perceive another person's view of the world as though that view were your own. The Sioux Indian Tribal Prayer reads, “Great Spirit, help us never to judge another until we have walked for two weeks in his moccasins.” Also note that empathy differs from sympathy in that sympathy connotes spontaneous emotion rather than a conscious, reasoned response. Sympathizing with others may be less useful to another person if we are limited by the strong feelings of the moment.
Keep them informed
Keeping the communication channel open allow team members to have a sense of control over their lives.
Make their jobs challenging, exciting, and meaningful
Make each feel like an individual in a great team, rather than a cog in a lifeless machine. People need meaningful work, even if it is tiring and unpleasant; they need to know that it is important and necessary for the survival of the organization.
Counsel people who behave in a way that is counter to the company's goals
All the guidelines before this took the positive approach. But, sometimes this does not always work. You must let people know when they are not performing to an acceptable standard. By the same token, you must protect them when needed. For example, if someone in your department is always late arriving for work and it is causing disruptions, then you must take action. On the other hand, if you have an extremely good department and once in a while a person is a few minutes late, then do the right thing — protect the person from the bureaucracy!
This lively RSA Animate, adapted from Dan Pink's talk at the RSA, illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace.
The most common form of culture in modern organizations is often referred to as informed acquiescence. They are rule-based in that the workers learn the rules and agree to abide by them. Rules work their way from the top-down in a fairly controllable and predictable manner. Thus a large organization becomes management-orientated and in turn, a bureaucracy. And it is this bureaucracy that tends to slow things down.
However, many of the leading organizations are becoming more value-based self-governance in that rather than the workforce being governed by “should,” they act upon “can” (Seidman, 2007). They have a small core set of rules that are valued by the workforce. Rather then being motivated to do better, they are inspired. Motivation is controlled somewhat by outside factors, while inspired (similar to “esprit”) is more inside the individual (soul or spirit) and is usually considered the greatest motivator. Being freed from the crippling pace of bureaucracy, value-based companies operate and move faster.
Probably no organization is solely one or the other, yet the better and faster ones are closer to being value-based. Nordstrom is perhaps the best known example of an organization that leans heavily towards value-based self-governance. For example, Nordstrom's rule is to “Use good judgment in all situations.” Employees are encouraged to ask questions from anyone because they believe that all information should be accessible to everyone, regardless of seniority or status.
Counseling has a powerful, long-term impact on people and the effectiveness of the organization. Counseling is talking with a person in a way that helps him or her solve a problem. It involves thinking, implementing, knowing human nature, timing, sincerity, compassion, and kindness. It involves much more that simply telling someone what to do about a problem.
Leaders must demonstrate the following qualities in order to counsel effectively.
- Respect for employees — This includes the belief that individuals are responsible for their own actions and ideas. It includes an awareness of a person's individuality by recognizing their unique values, attributes, and skills. As you attempt to develop people with counseling, you must refrain from projecting your own values onto them.
- Self-Awareness — This quality is an understanding of yourself as a leader. The more you are aware of your own values, needs, and biases, the less likely you will be to project your feelings onto your employees.
- Credibility — Believability is achieved through both honesty and consistency between both the leader's statements and actions. Credible leaders are straightforward with their subordinates and behave in such a manner that earns the subordinates' respect and trust.
- Empathy — or compassion entails understanding a subordinate's situation. Empathetic leaders will be better able to help subordinates identify the situation and then develop a plan to improve it.
The reason for counseling is to help employees develop in order to achieve organizational goals. Sometimes, the counseling is directed by policy, and at other times, leaders should choose to counsel to develop employees. Regardless of the nature of the counseling, leaders should demonstrate the qualities of an effective counselor (respect, self-awareness, credibility, and empathy) and employ the skills of good communication.
While the reason for counseling is to develop subordinates, leaders often categorize counseling based on the topic of the session. Major categories include performance counseling, problem counseling, and individual growth counseling (development). While these categories help leaders to organize and focus counseling sessions, they must not be viewed as separate and distinct types of counseling. For example a counseling session which mainly focuses on resolving a problem may also have a great impact on improving job performance. Another example is a counseling session that focuses on performance may also include a discussion of opportunities for growth. Regardless of the topic of the counseling session, you should follow the same basic format to prepare for and conduct counseling.
- Identify the problem. Ensure you get to the heart of the problem. Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota, invented a technique called the Five Whys. When confronted with a problem you ask “why” five times. By the time the fifth why is answered, you should be at the root cause of the problem. For example:
Tom's work is not up to standards
- Why? — After discussing it with Tom it turns out he has too much of a workload
- Why? — Tom is considered one of the experts, thus he often gets extra work dumped on him
- Why? — Susan, the other expert, was promoted and no one else is capable of replacing her
- Why? — We failed to train and develop the other team members
- Why? — We did not see the necessity of cross-training
- Analyze the forces influencing the behavior. Determine which of these forces you have control over and which of the forces the worker has control over. Determine if the force has to be modified, eliminated, or enforced.
- Plan, coordinate, and organize the session. Determine the best time to conduct the session so that you will not be interrupted or forced to end too early.
- Conduct the session using sincerity, compassion, and kindness. This does not mean you cannot be firm or in control. Your reputation is on the line; the problem must be solved so that your department can continue with its mission. Likewise, you must hear the person out.
- During the session, determine what the worker believes causes the counterproductive behavior and what will be required to change it. Also, determine if your initial analysis is correct.
- Try to maintain a sense of timing of when to use directive or nondirective counseling (see below).
- Using all the facts, make a decision and/or a plan of action to correct the problem. If more counseling is needed, make a firm time and date for the next session.
- After the session and throughout a sufficient time period, evaluate the worker's progress to ensure the problem has indeed been solved.
There are two types of counseling — directive and nondirective. In directive counseling, the counselor identifies the problem and tells the counselee what to do about it. Nondirective counseling means the counselee identifies the problem and determines the solution with the help of the counselor. The counselor has to determine which of the two, or some appropriate combination, to give for each situation. For example, “Put that cigarette out now as this is a nonsmoking area,” is a form of directive counseling. While a form of nondirective counseling would be, “So the reason you are not effective is that you were up late last night. What are you going to do to ensure that this does not affect your performance again?”
Hints for counseling sessions:
- Let the person know that the behavior is undesirable, not the person.
- Let the person know that you care about him or her as a person, but that you expect more from them.
- Do not punish employees who are unable to perform a task. Punish those who are able to perform the task but are unwilling or unmotivated to succeed.
- Counseling sessions should be conducted in private immediately after the undesirable behavior. Do not humiliate a person in front of others.
- Ensure that the employee understands exactly what behavior led to the counseling or punishment.
- Do not hold a grudge. When it is over, it is over! Move on!
For more information on counseling, see:
Skills + Knowledge + Attitudes = Observable Behavior
Observable Behavior = Performance Appraisal Rating
If you don't keep score, you're only practicing. — Vince Lombardi
Performance Appraisals (often called reviews, evaluations, or assessments) are the measurement of a specific range of skills, knowledge, and attitudes in relation to certain objective standards. The ratings are based upon observations or empirical data in relationship to a set of predefined standards. Although we sometimes make decisions based upon our own personal feelings or gut-level instincts, appraisals must be based upon how well a person has performed to a set standard.
He who stops being better stops being good. — Oliver Cromwell
The objective of performance appraisals is to help employees improve their performance and grow as individuals so that the organization can meet its present and future goals in a timely and cost effective manner. Is this how most organizations use them? No. They are used for protection against lawsuits, to justify different levels of pay increases, or to provide once-a-year feedback. In other words, a lot of managers and supervisors view them as an additional burden required by Human Resources. When in fact, they should be viewed as a performance tool. Just as a leader uses speaking skills to encourage the troops and analytical skills to forecast budgets; performance appraisals should be used to encourage great performance and create goals to improve weak competencies.
For many, the performance appraisal is tied in to their pay as a reward system. Tony Hope, a visiting professor at the French Business school INSEAD, spoke of rewards at the Institute of Personnel and Development's Compensation conference. He believes that we need to stop this practice as trust and commitment cannot be fostered while cost-control imperatives dominate organizational thinking. “Just as we have seen that knowledge workers don't respond to a regime of command and control in management style, so they won't perform according to pay systems that are individually based,” says Professor Hope, “Organizations must hang on to their best people and these people are exactly those that are least impressed by internal competition within tight budgets. . . New and powerful forces that are shaping organizations mean that people management professionals are going to have to find ways of collectively rewarding effort. It will be less pay for performance and more pay for participation.”
Performance appraisals are normally given at annual or semi-annual time periods. They need to provide specific feedback to the individual as to what competencies need improvement:
- Skills — What areas do I need to train in?
- Knowledge — What areas do I need to learn more about?
- Attitude — Are my inner drives coinciding with the organization's goals?
- Rewards — What am I doing right so I can do more of it? (we all like pats on the back)
Performance Appraisals do not take the place of daily feedback mechanisms. If an individual is shocked or surprised by the evaluation that he or she has received, then you as a leader have not performed your job. An evaluation is the overall scorecard that sums up a person's performance over the rating period, while daily one-on-ones, meetings, and other feedback devices are the tools that leaders use to motivate their employees on to higher performance.
The performance appraisal or evaluation is one of the most powerful motivational tools available to a leader. It has three main objectives:
- To measure performance fairly and objectively against job requirements. This allows effective workers to be rewarded for their efforts and ineffective workers to be put on the line for poor performance.
- To increase performance by identifying specific development goals. “If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there” — Lewis Carrol. The appraisal allows the worker to target specific areas for job growth. In addition, it should be a time to plan for better performance on the job.
- To develop career goals so that the worker may keep pace with the requirements of a fast paced organization. More and more, every job in an organization becomes more demanding with new requirements. Just because a worker is performing effectively in her job today, does not mean she will be able to perform effectively tomorrow. She must be allowed to grow with the job and the organization.
A lot of people consider giving performance appraisals as being quite uncomfortable. However, it is not the judging of people that is really uncomfortable, rather it is the judging of bad performance that is uncomfortable. Thus, eliminate poor performance in the first place, and performance appraisals become a lot more pleasant to give. Now of course you are not going to eliminate poor performance completely; however, with a little bit of planning it can be greatly reduced.
Performance has often been described as “purposeful work” — that is, a job exists to achieve specific and defined results. And what bad performers really do is perform “work activities” (busy work), rather than activities that contribute to effective performance.
The first step in performance planning is to determine the results that you want the performer to achieve. After all, workers generally want to know what they need to do, how well you need them to do it, and how well they are actually doing it (feedback).
In addition, a worker should not walk blindly into a performance appraisal. Past counseling sessions, feedback, and one-on-ones should give her a pretty clear understanding of what to expect from the appraisal. If you blind-side her, you have not done your job as a leader. Helping your team grow is not a once or twice yearly task, but a full-time duty.
The appraisal should be a joint effort. No one knows the job better than the person performing it. By turning the appraisal into a real discussion, rather than a lecture, the leader may learn some insightful information that could help boost his or her performance in the future. Before the meeting, have the worker complete her own self-appraisal. Although you might think they will take advantage of this by giving themselves unearned high marks, studies have shown that most workers rate themselves more critically than the leader would have.
There has been some talk of completely doing away with performance appraisals as they sometimes do more harm than good. Yet performance appraisals are tools and like any other tool, they can be used correctly or incorrectly. Part of the problem might be with its name — “Performance Appraisal,” which has sort of a judgmental sound to it. Perhaps “Performance Planning and Review” might be a better term for it.
Part-time employees at Trader Joe's are reviewed every three months, which is an unusually frequent rate of evaluation (Speizer, 2004). In addition, the part-time employees of Trader Joe's are paid higher wages, as are their full-time workers, than what you will find in the normal grocery store (an average of $16 per hour vs $12).
What is interesting about all of this is that they have been bought three times, and NOT because they are losing money — they make more money per square foot of business than the average grocery store. The new leadership teams have never said that they need to pay them what the rest of the industry pays. Why? Because they see the value in their workers! Rather than giving lip-service to “employees our are most valuable asset” they actually walk-the-talk.
Yet, one of the arguments for scrapping performance appraisals is that ALL workers' pay should be aligned with the labor market — they do not deserve annual pay raises as it inflates the wage and salary structure.
Traditionally, roles have remained the same while goals change (Buchen, 2004). Yet, due to the rapid changes that occur on a day-to-day basis, the roles are actually changing, even though they might remained fixed on paper. Performance appraisals often fail to factor in the changing relationships between goals and roles that are often in a high state of metamorphosis. That is, our attention remains fixed on steadfast goals, while ignoring ever-changing roles.
This type of thinking shows up in a lot of industries as they view their workers' jobs as set roles, even though the world is rapidly changing. For example, the 2004 grocery strike in California forced many shoppers to look at alternatives, thus they started shopping at Traders Joe's (who were not part of the strike). And many of these shoppers never went back to their regular stores (who see their employees playing traditional roles) because they enjoy the experience they have at Trader Joe's. Yet Trader Joe's was not always like this — it started out more like a Seven-Eleven, but because of the competition it went in search of its present niche and recognized along the way that its employee's roles also needed to change. So even though they still deal in the same commodity as the larger grocery stores — food — they not only changed the way they bought food (goal), but also in they way they deliver that food to the customer (role).
Thus, the real argument is not really about scrapping Performance Appraisals, but rather ensuring that once goals are set, that all roles are properly accounted for so that the target can indeed be met.
Arousal is a major aspect of many learning theories and is closely related to other concepts such as anxiety, attention, agitation, stress, and motivation.
- What Do People Want From Their Jobs?
- Positive Reinforcement
- Learning from Mistakes Rather than Blaming
- Identifying Performance Problems
- Confrontation Counseling
- Counseling Practice Session
- Performance Appraisals
Buchen, Irving. Upgrading Performance and Targeting Learning. Chief Learning Officer July 2004.
Craig, Robert L. (1996). The ASTD Training and Development Handbook. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Eliza G. C. Collins & Mary Anne Devanna (1990). The Portable MBA. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Seidman, D. (2007) How: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything. . . in Business (and in Life). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Speizer, Irwin Recruiting and Staffing. Workforce Magazine. September 2004, pp. 51-54.
U.S. Army Handbook (1973). Military Leadership.