Thursday, February 11, 2010

Money and Motivation

When it comes to the concept of employee motivation, there is nothing that should be simpler but, for some reason, it is more confusing than the concept of rewards and recognition for your employees.

At this very moment some of you have stopped reading, stood up at your desks and shouted at the top of your lungs, “There is nothing confusing about this! Give me more money!”

And that’s why there is confusion. People are motivated by different things. It’s not always money.

Let’s get some basics out of the way early. If you don’t earn enough money to put food on your table and pay your mortgage then you will always be looking for a way to earn more money. When you are consumed by the fear of not being able to take care of yourself, your spouse, or your children, then money is all you will think about.

And some people are clearly in that position.

But we are assuming here that you are not paying minimum wage or thereabouts to your employees. We are assuming that you are talking about what are commonly called “knowledge workers” and are paying reasonable wages for reasonable work.

For some people that is still not enough. When you ask “How do you motivate employees?" some people will still stand up and shout, “Give me more money!”

But study after study shows that this group is a very small minority of people. Or, said in a slightly different way, the number of people who insist that they want more money and those who actually want more money is very different. The mantra, “Give me more money” is more talk than reality.

Pay for performance is an absolute necessity in certain production positions. Pay for piecework is effective. Pay for knowledge work is not. In fact, studies show that when incentive pay is implemented for knowledge work, productivity and creativity actually go down. Instead of being incented to create, knowledge workers who are offered pay for performance actually feel constrained by arbitrary rewards of incentive pay. It seems that knowledge workers are incented by intrinsic motivation, by the desire to excel and grow and create, rather than by the almighty dollar.

The most recent book on this topic is called “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel Pink. It’s a book that I highly recommend all managers and leaders read. This is especially true for small business owners who often fall prey to the pay for performance mantra.

So how do you motivate employees, especially those who are knowledge workers? Knowledge workers are motivated by the opportunity to unleash their creative juices, solve problems, and make a difference. They enjoy new challenges, enhancing their talents and skills, and seeing how their work impacts those around them. The intrinsic motivation that drives knowledge workers is as strong as, or stronger than, the pay for performance motivation that drives production workers.

Want to motivate your knowledge workers? Turn them loose and let them find new solutions.

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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