– How to inspire and motivate the work force.

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In March of this year, Gallup produced a study titled, “Companies Are Maximizing Only 5% of Their Workforces.” In it, they contend companies are only engaging their workers by a paltry 5%. This should raise the eyebrows of managers and executives everywhere. It means they are failing to challenge their workers in finding meaning in their work thereby inhibiting motivation to excel.

Gallup studied three attributes of workers; their tenure on the job, how laborious they worked, and whether they are placed in jobs aligned with their talents. One of the key observations they made is those who have been with their company a long time tend to lose their motivation and enthusiasm for the job. In short, they stagnate. They do just enough to get by. Some even form grudges which undermines the company whenever possible. This obviously influences junior workers who may adopt similar attitudes. Gallup also discovered people were not matched to job assignments based on their skills, meaning they were less effective since they didn’t possess the proper talents or experience to perform their assigned work.

Some believe financial incentives are the only way to encourage workers to accelerate performance. Money is a nice cattle prod, but it is only a short term solution. If the workers do not have the proper skills or interests, performance improvements will be minimal. And as we all know, working harder is not working smarter.

Instead, some fundamental changes are required, such as:

1. Evaluate employee performance, through a standard review process. Perhaps some counseling or additional training is in order. Also consider reassigning the employee or charging him/her with new work assignments. Your mission is to change the worker’s outlook on both his/her job and the company overall. As an aside, use this opportunity to determine the true leaders of your work force and build on them.

2. Assess the corporate culture, both in terms of physical surroundings, as well as logical dimensions. A fresh coat of paint can work wonders, not to mention such things as furniture, tools and equipment, even a revised dress code. Studies have shown that employees respond positively to such changes. It is like saying, “You are important and we are making an investment in you.” Logical considerations include such intangibles as management style and general operating policies. The following is a set of suggestions to study this:

– The manager’s perspective on employees; e.g., smart versus dumb, hard workers versus lazy, trustworthy versus suspicious.

– Does the manager play favorites or treats everyone equally? This may indicate a political environment. The intent is to determine if the manager promotes teamwork or rugged individualism.

– How does the manager run his/her operations; e.g., clean and orderly versus sloppy, workers are dressed appropriately for the job or not, do workers properly socialize and practice common courtesy, etc.

– Do workers respect the boss or are they in fear of him, or do they simply ignore him (indicating a complete lack of respect for authority and skills)?

– Employee records on tardiness and absenteeism can be used to denote the perspective of workers on the job. Also consider errors in workmanship, customer complaints, and violations of corporate policies. By doing so, the interests and ethics of the work force will emerge.

3. Manage from the bottom-up; empower the workers as opposed to micromanaging them (theory X). This means delegating responsibility and forcing workers to supervise themselves as opposed to supervising their every move. This Theory Y form of management provides workers with a sense of ownership and pride in their work. The manager’s role then becomes one of expediting problems. It also means workers are treated as professionals which contributes to their sense of self-worth.

4. Develop a Skills Inventory and assess workers skills and proficiencies as applied to their current job. This will facilitate the selection of the right worker for the right job assessment. It will also indicate if additional training and certification is required. Frankly, I cannot imagine a major company in the 21st century who is not making use of a skills inventory.

These simple, common sense techniques are fundamental to sound management practices. It’s not about counting beans, it’s a matter of understanding the human dynamics of the business, a skill we have seemed to lost in the 21st century.

I found the Gallup poll to be most illuminating. If anything, it tells us more about managers as opposed to workers. The title of the study though is a misnomer. Instead, it should have been titled, “Only 5% of managers know how to maximize their Workforces.” A very scary figure.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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