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Get The Most Out Of Your Employees

Steve Jobs, the computer genius who co-founded Apple Corp., is a very charismatic leader of technical people. When his group was designing Apple's new Macintosh computer, Jobs flew a pirate flag over ...


Steve Jobs, the computer genius who co-founded Apple Corp., is a very charismatic leader of technical people. When his group was designing Apple’s new Macintosh computer, Jobs flew a pirate flag over his building. Its purpose was to signify his team’s determination to blow the competition out of the water. Rather creative motivation.

Good leaders and managers have creative ways to motivate their employees.

Robert Waterman Jr. wrote about Chiyoshi Misawa, founder and president of Misawa Homes -the largest homebuilder in Japan. At least once every decade he “dies” to arrest the momentum of out-of-date assumptions and policies. He sends a memo to his company that formally announces “the death of your president.”

This is his way of forcing the whole company to rethink everything. When employees resist change because they are used to the old way of doing things, Misawa declares: “That was the way things were done under Mr. Misawa. He is now dead. Now, how shall we proceed?”

People can be motivated with threats, fear, example, reward, recognition, etc. I believe threats are overrated and misunderstood. Fear works for a while. However, when people are mature, experienced and professional, they will not regard mistreatment and claims of absolute authority as a source of inspiration.

One of the most powerful motivators is peer pressure. That’s what the armed forces use to motivate soldiers. What makes an 18-year-old kid risk his life in combat? It sure isn’t because he thinks his platoon leader is such a prince. One of the main reasons is because his buddies will think he’s a coward if he doesn’t go with the flow. But peer pressure, despite its powerful impact as a motivator, is -like the other motivators -imposed from outside sources. It tends to work best on young people because their personal set of values is not yet fully formed and are more easily influenced by others.

I think one of the best motivators, the one that is most likely to stick with you -even for a lifetime -is the one that comes from within. If you’re looking for a one-word description of a truly motivated person, I’d say “self-starter.”

But let’s face it: no one is able to be up every minute of every day. How do you overcome the inevitable drag on your spirits of doing tasks you hate but have to be done?

I do it by playing a trick on myself. It’s the old peas/pie routine. (That is, you have to eat your peas if you want a piece of pie). If I have to do something I don’t like, I make it a point to be especially nice to myself later by doing something I really do like. I think about the possibilities the whole time I’m plowing through the monthly inventory reports and 90-day-plus receivables. Then, a few aspirins later, I’m ready to give myself a new golf club, dinner out, or whatever mad and capricious delight strikes my fancy at the moment.

Recognition is another great way of motivating us to achieve more than we ever thought possible. For the record, I have yet to receive my first note from someone telling me that I’m giving him or her too much recognition.

Predictably, money is still one of the top motivating factors.

A manager who had just returned from a motivation seminar called an employee into his office and said, “Henceforth, you are going to be allowed to plan and control your job. That will raise productivity considerably, I am sure.”

“Will I be paid more?” asked the worker. “No, no. Money is not a motivator, and you will get no satisfaction from a salary raise.”

“Well, if production does increase, will I be paid more?”

“Look,” said the manager, “you obviously do not understand the motivation theory. Take this book home and read it. It explains what it is that really motivates you.”

As the man was leaving, he stopped and said, “If I read this book, will I be paid more?”

Motivation is the spark that ignites success.


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