Mueller - Taking a vacation close to home

Monday, July 15, 2002

So often I interface with business leaders and they are concerned that there is a loss of work ethic, and no motivation within the employee ranks. How do we motivate employees? I believe that employers possess the ability to create an atmosphere that is conducive to allowing employees to energize and motivate themselves.

The first step to motivating our employees is to define motivation. What is it, how do we go about it and how should we do it? What are the differences between internal and external motivators? And lastly, do we want employees who comply or commit to the success of the organization and themselves? Answering and discussing these questions with the leadership teams and the employees is critical to the success of an organization.

What do employees really want? Robert Below, a consultant in Bellevue, Wash., analyzed over 2 million responses over a 17-year period, from within 32 industry and job sectors, and these are the top eight responses:

1. To be treated with uncompromising truth

2. To be trusted by one's associates

3. To mentor and be mentored unselfishly

4. To be receptive to new ideas, regardless of their origin

5. To be allowed to take risks for the organization's sake

6. To be given credit where it is due

7. To behave ethically

8. To consider the interests of others before one's own interest

One must ask oneself and one's employees which of these issues tend to influence our behavior the most significantly? Chances are everyone within an organization has fairly similar answers. Identify them and create an action plan to make the environment in the workplace reflect the feelings and desires of the work team.

In Dale Carnegie Training, we focus on the principles Mr. Carnegie teaches us in "How to Win Friends and Influence People." The first nine principles are designed to allow us to strengthen our relationships with others. A good topic for discussion within a company is, "How do these principles relate to motivating our people?" The principles are:

1. Don't criticize, condemn or complain

2. Give honest and sincere appreciation

3. Arouse in the other person an eager want

4. Become genuinely interested in other people

5. Smile

6. Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language

7. Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves

8. Talk in terms of the other person's interest

9. Make the other person feel important-and do it sincerely

These principles are not rocket science, yet we forget to practice them. I can guarantee that when practiced within an organization or family household, people will feel appreciated -- and motivated!

In addition to how we treat each other, there are many ideas to help motivate employees. It may be something simple like a thank you note for gratitude in a paycheck. Or something such as a company logo shirt or jacket. I know one CEO who regularly washes his employees' car in the parking lot.

Our Dale Carnegie Training office in St. Louis has a traveling trophy that looks like a large star with the word A.W.A.R.D on it. A.W.A.R.D. stands for A Winning Attitude Reaps Dividends. Every Monday we vote on who feel should get the award for the week. The employee who "owns" it the most within a quarter receives a monetary award at the end of the quarter. Simple, but a great motivator.

As always, I like to throw down a challenge to everyone -- look at the motivation factor within your companies. What can you do to increase it? Motivated employees will produce more, complain less, and create a much more favorable workplace. I think our customers will notice, too! Schedule a meeting right away to start working on this important component to your company's success.

Sharon Mueller is the regional manager of Dale Carnegie Training. (332-0900 or

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