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How to motivate your staff

29 April 2005 by
How to motivate your staff

Your staff aren't just there for the money. No, seriously, they're not. It's obviously a big part of what motivates them to come to work every day, but it's not the only thing.

In fact, if we're being honest, the hospitality industry isn't exactly famous for its bulging wage packets, so it's even more important that workers have the extra things that give them the satisfaction they need from their job.

You could also say that hotel and catering managers have a much greater interest in motivation because many of their staff perform jobs that bring them in regular contact with the public. This means personal attitude and character are vitally important.

It's up to the manager or the boss to provide that motivation, and it doesn't have to be all about financial rewards. Sometimes a "well done, good job" can be more effective.

The first trick when motivating staff is find out what they want. This sounds simple, but your view as the manager might not be the same as the staff.

For example, when managers are asked to list the top ten things they think motivate their employees the list looks like this:

  1. Salary
  2. Bonuses
  3. Holidays
  4. Retirement
  5. Other benefits and perks
  6. Interesting work
  7. Responsibility
  8. Feedback
  9. Training
  10. Respect

When employees list what actually motivates them, the list looks more like this:

  1. Interesting work
  2. Responsibility
  3. Feedback
  4. Training
  5. Respect
  6. Salary
  7. Bonuses
  8. Holidays
  9. Retirement
  10. Other benefits and perks

In other words, managers rank money items as their employees' top five motivators. Employees, however, rank these as their bottom five.

You could argue that managers pick the top five motivators because these are the things that they can "give" their employees without having to ask what they want or need, i.e. no involvement on a personal level.

Interestingly, when managers are asked what motivates them, they give the list in the same order as the employees.

The manager's main task is to motivate his or her team, both individually and collectively, so that the team members can produce the best results and also get personal satisfaction.

The main tools a manager can use to motivate your staff are quite straightforward:

  1. Approval, praise and recognition
  2. Trust, respect and high expectations
  3. Loyalty
  4. Job enrichment
  5. Good communications
  6. Cash incentives

This list is arranged in order of importance: note that cash comes last.

These tools underline an important fact of staff motivation, that persuasion is far more powerful than coercion. The former builds morale, initiative and motivation, while the latter kills them.

The three basic components of persuasion are:

  • suggest
  • play on the person's sentiments
  • appeal to logic

For example: "I've been thinking it might be a good idea to wash those dishes now, what do you think? [suggestion]. It would be a really big help [sentiments] and, besides, if they're done now we can all leave early [logic]".

Compare this with, "Go and wash those dishes. Now!"

Once convinced, the person is so motivated to do the job, the manager will have achieved their goal quietly, gently and with the minimum effort.

Remember that even though you're a manager yourself, you're still an employee (unless you're running your own business, of course). How good do you feel when your boss tells you you've done a good job? Sometimes just saying quick things such as "thanks for sorting out those supplies, they're sorted so much better now" is more motivational when done often than a big annual prize-giving.

As with a lot of management techniques, the theories of motivation are very much based on common sense. A do-unto-others attitude will build respect and satisfaction for staff, and consequently for you as well.

Finally, here's a quick run-down of some actions that you should be applying to your day-to-day management to keep your staff motivated:

  • Offer valued rewards.
  • Do not over-control.
  • Recognise achievement.
  • Ensure that rewards are given fairly.
  • Teaching someone something is an excellent basis for being able to motivate them.

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