Staff motivation is more an art than science, but make no mistake it is incredibly important. Think about what you want from your staff and what that staff consists of, humans with human feelings and needs. Humans are, of course, strange creatures by our very design. In one study I read when I was taking an elective course on management psychology (which included such phenoms as staff motivation), a staff of factory workers were actually affected by changes in lighting. The heads of the company brought in light bulbs with dimmer wattageand it was learned that production actually increased but they didn’t like. The heads then brought in bulbs of a brighter intensity (than the original bulbs)and the staff cheered and worked harder: production went up just as much. I guess this was an example of bait and switch.
So a good example of staff motivation is manipulation and subtle deceit. But be sure not to overtly trick anyone or cause harm in any way. After many years (decades) of working for and with and over teams of employees, I have personally found that rewards work best for motivation. I was the spirit leader in one company, coming up with freaky Friday and Muddled Mondays ideas for staff motivation by way of staff morale-boosting (for the company and the work was typically quite Kafkaesque).
It was almost childish sometimes, but it really did break up the monotony and add a little life into the mix. It actually put a lot of smiles on people’s faces and that can never be under estimated. We had make-your-own-sundae days, international food days, and show-and-tell daysyes, just like when we were kids back in school but with adult objects and stories that distracted temporarily, enlightened, humored, and entertainedgetting us through another week. We also openly encouraged employees to express their own ideas and suggestions and try to foster that type of thinking (learning the jobs each had for a change of pace and for support of whomever was bogged down or behind).
Some ways to destroy staff motivation, which of course is not something you want to teach, but rather be on the lookout to avoid, are those which do the opposite of the above, those whaich are the antithesis of good leadership. I recall having jobs were clueless bosses and administrators could make the workplace they truly miserable place to be (for unsavory political reasons they got into the position in the first place). One leader would hold brainstorming meetings and then say no to every single idea. Could you imagine that? What’s the point?
Another would insist on a project, get everyone working at completing the project/presentation, then on the day of debut would bring unrelated changes and items and schedules so that only one person looked together and knew what she was doing. The signs, tents, flyers, and fundraising items were all tossed aside as irrelevant and thereby tossed away potential buyers and supporters, too.
This absolutely destroyed morale and to fight the opposite of the wanted affect. Another clueless boss came up with the idea of working retreats, which we employees made fun but where the leaders would bastardize the concept of retreat in the first place. Still, games, fun, open exchanges of ideas and togetherness projects, and the honoring of (by listening to, acknowledging, crediting, and rewarding) individuals wherever possible seems to work in favor of staff motivation.
It sounds like common sense doesn’t it? But some bosses and companies just don’t get it. Don’t be one of them and your staff motivation will never be a problem.