All managers want an enthused and motivated workforce, but can be confused by the sheer volume of conflicting advice flung at them every day – especially in the age of the internet. There is no shortage of tips available, setting out a simple “Ten-Step” programme for turning a team of workers into a highly-motivated unit. But two questions arise when looking at these nuggets of advice – are they really so different and do they really work?
A typical set of “top tips” for motivating a workforce includes exhortations to empathise with staff members and find out what they want from the job. This seems pretty obvious at first glance, but of course the real difficulty lies in finding the time to do it. Most small business owners and managers have a massive workload of their own, and can hardly spare the time to go from worker to worker attempting to draw out of them their hopes and dreams.
Flexibility is also highly recommended – the practice of giving employees greater control over their workload and working environment, such as home working options or flexitime. Again, this seems like a no-brainer, with benefits for employer and worker alike. However, this policy needs to be carefully monitored; as such leeway does not work with all employees or with all kinds of job, some of which simply cannot be carried out from home.
On the job learning always crops up as a tool for motivating employees. It certainly is true that people are moving from job to job far more often than in the past and many workers are anxious to obtain new skills. This is a laudable aim, of course, and should be encouraged – with some important provisos: that the acquisition of new skills does not impact negatively on working hours and is not prohibitively costly.
So far, so uncontroversial, but there are a number of motivational techniques that dare not speak their name – motivation through fear, for instance. The fear that one may lose one’s job if one does not perform well enough is surely at the back of every worker’s mind, but it is apparently not considered good form to mention it in the context of “motivation tips.”
But it is very real, and a new trend employee appraisal via “360-degree feedback” appears to be tacitly acknowledging the fact. Also referred to as “multisource assessment,” it refers to a means of appraisal which seeks the views of everyone connected with the employee – managers, supervisors, co-workers, plus a self-assessment by the employee in question.