One more time, how should we motivate employees?

May 29, 2014 By JB Henriksen

motivating employees

Fredrick Herzberg has long been known as the guru of management theory and motivation.  He wrote a great article on motivating employees many years ago that I read again recently and just thought it was worth repeating.

Companies have tried to reinvent the wheel over and over again trying to motivate employees in the work force.  How do we do it?  Money?  Praise?  Punishment?  None of them really work as well as we’d hope.  We frequently hear about people being “coin operated”, especially sales personnel.  Money works, but only until the next raise or the next job opportunity with a larger commission.  It fails at providing long-term motivation.  If the financial carrot doesn’t work, how about the stick?  Punishment doesn’t work well either.  It may lead to short term improvement, but employees are not really motivated except to avoid punishment in the short term and they then leave.  These are extrinsic motivators.  And short-term in nature.

The key, according to Herzberg, is very simple.  Make their jobs more interesting!!!  OK, that sounds good in principle, but how do you do it in practice?  Here are the top ideas:

  • Increase the individual’s accountability for their work and remove controls
  • Give people responsibility for a complete process or unit of work
  • Make information available directly to the employees without having to go through a manager first
  • Enable people to take on new, more difficult tasks they haven’t handled before
  • Assign individuals specialized tasks that allow them to become experts

If you can follow these basic guidelines with people who work in your organization, you will have employees with an enhanced sense of responsibility and achievement along with the opportunity to learn and grow.  These are the types of intrinsic motivators that will improve both short and long-term performance.  If it sounds like common sense, that’s because it is…however, common sense sometimes isn’t all that common.  Try it and you’ll observe employees feeling more enriched in their work and with greater commitment.  Furthermore, you may find that managers remember and begin adapting toward their true purpose, that of developing their people instead of just checking their work.  Done right, employees and managers both win as their jobs take on greater meaning!!!

JB Henricksen is a partner at Advanced CFO Solutions.  At Advanced CFO Solutions, we provide outsourced accounting and financial services. We have served with more than 450 companies. Our clients see us as their strategic, outsourced CFO.  We provide CEOs with critical information so they can make key decisions with confidence.  We do this by leveraging our experience and technology to provide actionable information and results.  And, we do it for a fraction of the cost of a full time employee.  For more information, click here.

Are you ready to make finance

a competitive advantage?