<![CDATA[Writers For Hire - Blog]]>Wed, 18 Nov 2015 19:36:15 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Motivation: If it's not the money?]]>Mon, 21 May 2012 15:44:39 GMThttp://www.writersforhire.co.uk/blog1/motivation-if-its-not-the-money
If it’s not the money that motivates, and we looked in my previous blog at research that shows a little financial incentive focuses effort and big financial incentives actually reduce performance, then what does motivate effectively? Doing things we really want to do is the greatest motivator – just look at the performance of the charitable and voluntary sector, the mass creators of open source software, Wikipedia and all those wonderful people regularly blogging and tweeting their thoughts out into the world (alright I know some of us do it for our businesses but most do it for the sheer joy of doing it).This is very nice if you can run your business with volunteers but most of us have to pay the staff to come in each day and do their job. This is the basics – pay, position, the workplace, working relationships and how the company is run; these are not motivators but they are the main causes of dissatisfaction when perceived as wrong/ inadequate . These get them through the door, to do the job day-in and day-out. If you want them to up their game, putting in extra effort and achieving above expectation performance then you might consider some incentives. My favourite piece of research in this field is by Frederick Herzberg, whose findings were interpreted as Herzberg’s Rocket by Alan Chapman. looking a bit like the picture above.

Once employees are happy with the basics, and it is very worthwhile to keep them happy - remember these are the causes of dissatisfaction – quitting the job, we can move forward from a solid base.
  • The first stage of our motivation rocket is ‘achievement - personal growth’. People like to learn, to become better at what they do; to be stimulated, to improve their skills. This can be, but does not have to be, training courses. You can do a lot in-house through one-to-one discussion of their role or group discussions on best practice. Suppliers might run free training or at least welcome visits to their facilities. Anything that helps the individual to understand why they do what they do and how to do it better is worthwhile.
  • Responsibility: Get them involved in developing themselves and others in their team. Make the best person team leader or ‘senior’. Provide a career path for them to advance, if you can, so that extra skills are rewarded and extra effort recognised. People respond to being given even a little responsibility for a particular aspect of their work – a little more autonomy or decision making about the ‘how’ of doing something. This works too at small group level – discussions on how to achieve a result. Delegate and devolve responsibility, it makes your life easier and motivates those you manage.
  • Work itself can be a great motivator. Boredom is a killer. Time goes quicker if you are busy; it is less arduous if it is interesting and it is more rewarding if the work is seen to be worthwhile. If you want something doing well, give the task to a busy person! Keep staff occupied, challenged and attempting new tasks. create variety, where you can.
  • Give due recognition for work well done. Always praise in public (conversely, always discipline in private). A word of thanks goes a long way. People really do strive to be employee of the month or to get to wear the gold star badge. If appropriate, give a voucher for a meal out or a weekend away, but do it publicly. Being seen to succeed is very motivating and really more important than the reward.
  • Achievement: not everybody wants to be promoted. Each individual has their own aspirations and goals. Find out what they are and help them to achieve them. For most people,  they want to feel that what they do is worthwhile and that they are contributing to success. Some of their goals may be nothing directly to do with work but their work will be improved if you can help them anyway.
I had a neighbour who was a salesman. When the company was going through a rough patch, the management told the sales team that they could give them a raise but their cars would be downgraded slightly. Every one in the sales team voted to forgo the raise, if they could retain their car grade. Their car was a status symbol to their customers, peers met on the road, their family and neighbours and, most of all, themselves. Status, self respect, how others see us and how we see ourselves are key to motivation.

Part of motivation is also being part of a successful organisation. Tell your staff when you get a new order,have a record month, get mentioned in the media. This too contributes to status and therefore motivation. Tell them when a record month is achievable and ask for a little more effort – celebrate your successes even in little ways. Make them feel part of it, a vital cog!

Herzberg’s research reinforced the conclusion given in the earlier blog, pay/salary, despite what people may say or even think, is not a prime motivator. It is often quoted way down the list as a reason for leaving a job but ahead of the money are promotion prospects, more interesting or varied work, more flexible working arrangements and a better location for the worker and his/her family.

<![CDATA[Motivation - it's not the money!]]>Mon, 21 May 2012 15:28:07 GMThttp://www.writersforhire.co.uk/blog1/motivation-its-not-the-moneyAmongst all the angst and furore about the banker’s bonuses and whether they are necessary or not to retain said bankers' services, it is worth reminding ourselves how poor money is as a motivator to enhanced performance. In fact, money, as an incentive, can be severely detrimental to the performance of some types of tasks – those requiring creativity, problem solving and judgement!

I was reminded of this a few months ago when I was sent a link to this presentation http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/618. Here Dan Pink makes the case for rethinking how we motivate people. In his presentation (go watch it now!) Dan quotes from ‘Large Stakes and Big Mistakes’, a report based on research by DAN ARIELY, Duke University; URI GNEEZY, Rady School of Management; GEORGE LOEWENSTEIN, Carnegie Mellon University and NINA MAZAR. Rotman School of Management. They state that the idea that “increasing performance-contingent incentives will improve performance rests on two subsidiary assumptions: (1) that increasing performance-contingent incentives will lead to greater motivation and effort and (2) that this increase in motivation and effort will result in improved performance”. The first of these assumptions seems generally accepted and proven but the second, the subject of their tests in the USA and India, shows up as seriously flawed. Their conclusion states  “Many institutions provide very large incentives for tasks that require creativity, problem solving, and memory. Our results challenge the assumption that increases in motivation would necessarily lead to improvements in performance. Across multiple tasks … higher monetary incentives led to worse performance”. They do not dispute that “For many tasks, introducing incentives where there previously were none or raising small incentives on the margin is likely to have a positive impact on performance” but firmly conclude “high payments cannot be relied upon to produce optimal behaviour” – bankers please note!

Incentives do increase effort, so are particularly appropriate for physical work and as an inducement for people to do physical things – start earlier, increase their pace of work etc. High incentives also increase focus, they narrow our field of vision and close our mind to exploring options, alternative solutions and, maybe, consequences. So this could explain why the most highly incentivised people on the planet, bankers, got it so fundamentally wrong. The salary-bonus balance is too heavily skewed to the incentivising bonus.

Salaries (the fixed remuneration package) have to be pitched at a level that will offer what are perceived to be appropriate and competitive inducements to take a job and keep turning up each day to do it. Salary pays you to do the job required. Bonuses should be related to above target performance and incremental profit achievement. Bonuses should never, regularly, be more than 30% of gross pay and ideally should be under 10%. Many years ago I worked with a manufacturing company who paid a generous bonus to its workforce based on profit distribution. For many, many years the bonus was always good – so good and consistent in fact that the workers had taken out mortgages based on their earnings inclusive of the bonus. When a combination of price competition from abroad and a slowing economy impacted on profits, the workforce suddenly found that its basic pay was actually insufficient for their needs and they were in serious trouble. In this instance the enlightened owner/managers, on seeing the problem, quickly raised salaries and reduced the bonus content to restore a realistic balance.

Cash bonuses are a poor and potentially performance damaging incentive that can create problems for the payer’s business and the recipient, if above a modest level.

<![CDATA[The Internet may not be the answer!]]>Mon, 21 May 2012 15:21:08 GMThttp://www.writersforhire.co.uk/blog1/the-internet-may-not-be-the-answerIt seems every business believes it must have a website, which is probably true. However, it is not necessarily true that the website will automatically bring business flooding in. The Internet only works as a salesperson if people are looking for your product or service on the Internet and, if they do search, they find you. Company owners and directors do not spend all day surfing the Internet and may spend very little time doing so ... if they are your target audience, think again. The same is true of many busy business buyers, they have better things to do and probably think existing suppliers are satisfactory anyway. If you want them to look at your site, you will have to tell them to go there. Equally, if they do search, will they find you? They may be looking for your service or product but would they think of it using the same words as you? The Internet is a great directory but not everybody uses a directory to find what they want and, of course, they may not know that they want your product or service - unless you tell them they do!!

The internet is a powerful, low-cost addition to the marketing tool-kit but it is not a replacement of every other tool in the box