Motivating and Retaining The Best Employees

Motivating with carrots and sticks works... with mules

Motivating with carrots and sticks works... with mules

This Forbes article on motivating and retaining the best employees contains some very valid points. It’s simple, practical and useful. However, I think its entire premise is wrong. It’s crazy, in this day and age, that we believe or expect managers to believe that not only is it their job to motivate others but that it can be done at all. And by “done” I mean meaningfully, in the long term and able to be maintained without the constant presence of the so-called motivating manager. Carrots and sticks as motivators, be they bonuses or whatever, have their place – in a 1920s cigarette factory with managers carrying clipboards and stopwatches and the workers nicely uneducated cogs in a machine. A modern workplace of choice hoping to compete for real talent needs a different approach. The true test of a leader’s influence on, and motivation of, others is what happens when they’re not around.

Creative, self-motivated talent who can solve problems, show initiative and create value aren’t motivated by a carrot or stick. (Though they may be demotivated by the lack of a fair salary.) I’m really loving Daniel Pink’s book ‘Drive’ in which he says the three drivers for those people are autonomy, mastery and a sense of purpose. And these are the people you want, you know, because they DON’T NEED TO BE MOTIVATED. They’re inherently motivated by the work.

The Forbes article needs to be preceded by another about ATTRACTING EMPLOYEES THAT DON’T NEED TO BE EXTERNALLY MOTIVATED. The Forbes article is good advice and you could do a lot worse than to follow it. I especially like that it’s smart to have a true alignment of the personal goals of employees with the organisation’s goals. That’s genius and is almost another way of implying that they’ll be self-motivated. Shared self-interest is a wonderful thing.

The Forbes article also says that communication is good. Kind of obvious but true. A bit like the lyric in the song by LMFAO ‘Party Rock Anthem’ that goes, “Stop… hating is bad.” Nice. Come up with nine more. Never mind an article, there could be a book in that!

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About Terry Williams - The Brain-Based Boss

I'm all about engaging people and helping you engage yours to influence behaviour to improve results - at work and at home. Maybe you're a manager, a salesperson, a leader, a parent, a presenter or an event organiser? You need to grab your people's attention, create some rapport, be memorable and influence behaviour change. How can we do that? I'm originally a trainer by trade, turned manager, turned comedian and partway back again. Author of 'THE GUIDE: How to kiss, get a job & other stuff you need to know', I write and speak about how to engage people, be they employees, family or yourself. How can we connect with people’s own internal motivations and help them use their own inner passions to drive towards productivity, success and happiness? And hopefully have a few laughs along the way... As a trainer facilitating learning and development in others, I find myself drawing on my own extensive business experience. I specialise in the delivery of high impact, customised training solutions for organisations that are serious about improving the performance and lives of their people.

Posted on October 17, 2011, in Behaviour, Employee Engagement, Influence, Leadership, Motivation, Workplace Of Choice and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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