by Josh Parker
At one point in your professional life, you’ve likely had a boss that you felt was ineffective. I’ve heard it said that people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses. As an owner, you want to be the best boss you can be, and one key piece of the pie is how you can motivate your managers.
When I worked for a large facility managing a staff of over 30 employees, it was difficult at times to know how best to motivate each employee. They all had different needs, communication styles, and personalities that all required slightly, if not completely, different approaches. As I got to know each employee better, I learned more about what motivated them to perform well at work. Some needed extra encouragement or explicit instructions, while others needed space to work more efficiently or frequent check ins. Overwhelmingly, employees need a voice in critical operating decisions to have some skin in the game. Rewards like gifts, or public recognition, are also effective motivators. The more I met these needs, the more efficient my team became. I quickly began to see the data reflect the changes I was making in my approach to managing the team. Invest time in learning what motivates your managers.
1. Increase communication with your team
Captain D Michael Abrashoff, former Commander of the USS Benfold, says this in his book, It’s Your Ship,
“Make your crew think ‘we can do anything.’… Like any other workforce, mine appreciated hearing from top management. That communication is another thing missing from many organizations today - managerial silence seems to be growing just when fierce competition is forcing companies to reinvent themselves constantly. Change frightens workers, and their fears thrive in silence. The antidote is obvious: Keep talking.”
Your managers need to hear from you regularly! Be a united front. Brainstorm together. Let them know the what and the why of what’s going on. Share your goals, or better yet, make them together. A well informed manager will work harder and smarter for you.
2. Let Them Know How Important They Are
Everyone wants to feel important, and we all have a desire to be recognized. There are many easy ways to communicate importance to someone. Les Giblin in his book, “Skill With People” shares many effective strategies.
Use your employee’s name- it is much better to say “good morning John” than to just say “good morning”.
Avoid I/me statements, and replace them with you/your statements.
Listen, and don’t be so quick to respond- a short pause in a conversation lets them know you are thinking about what they say, and that their words have value to you.
Finally, when they deserve it, sincerely recognize, applaud, and compliment their achievements.
3. Reward Outstanding Performance
Managers want to increase sales and successfully implement promotions and marketing tasks. Consider - would they be slightly more motivated if you offered them a reward for getting the job done? One Storage Authority manager received a $300 bonus for handing out 300 pumpkins in one month leading up to Halloween- a tough ask, but they got it done! What if you offered your manager a $50 gift card to a local restaurant for getting twenty 5 Star Google Reviews in a month? How about $100 bonus for renting a certain number of units in one month? A small monetary cost for you can be paid for exponentially by as little as one rental, and it can be that little bit of extra motivation for your manager. In addition to the money, they will also have extra pride in their work knowing that they were recognized and got the job done.
4. Prepare Them For Success
When I started leading a large team, it was clear to me that many of them were not adequately prepared for success. They were trying hard, but often failing because they were not properly trained. In addition, they were not provided with ongoing opportunities to hone their craft. As I began to retrain employees, I found that they were motivated by opportunities for improvement. They wanted to do well, and given the proper tools and instruction, they were excited to show off their new and improved skills! When an employee is left to flounder they feel less successful, and will either begin to slack off, or become stressed by their lack of confidence. Both paths lead to a reduction in productivity. Approach training with excitement! Training not only makes the job easier, but also shows your commitment to your employees because you believe they can do the job.
5. Have The Hard Conversations
Communication is key to motivating your manager, and it comes in many forms and fashions. “Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson, is filled with helpful information on how to foster hard conversations. Patterson talks about “Mutual Purpose,” and asks: “do others believe I care about their goals in this conversation? Do they trust my motives?” It is important to take the time to evaluate the goals of the conversation, and analyze both sides of the situation at hand - yours and your manager’s.
Hard conversations are just as important as fun conversations, but can easily end in disaster. Often, those disasters can be avoided, but the hard conversation cannot be avoided. Hard conversations when done well can result in a stronger relationship, build trust, and result in a more motivated, productive and successful manager.
The math is simple, effective managers lead to increased productivity, which results in increased profit. Investing time into training, communication, and motivation will move your facility forward.
Share the ways you’re motivating your managers with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and remember – don’t wait for the opportunity, create it.