April 25, 2006

Motivation when the end is near

Seeing as it is the end of the semester, and as much as I have enjoyed this assignment, many long term projects trail off at the end. After doing something so much, you lose some of the drive. It got me thinking about in the workplace, if you know your company is in bad shape, how do you keep people motivated if they think they could lose their jobs? They might be spurned onward to success when faced with this, but surely some will chose to do the bare minimum.

This is a tough situation. If you know someone is underperforming, threatening their job is meaningless, and reprimands will be brushed off as insignificant. The best I can think of is trying to instill a sense of urgency with team meetings and inspiration. If a manager can reinstate the fighting spirit, who knows, maybe the firm will pull through. I know there is some better suggestions out there, but I am at a loss. If I think of something, I will post a comment, but I would really enjoy it if you guys (the readers) would post on here with ideas!

April 24, 2006

Computer Work: How much is too much?

This article deals with motivation and technology:

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/0,4621,303884,00.html

I would say that this article does a good job of discussing how technology affects the workplace. The major concern was a lack of motivation due to burnout from doing work with computers. As I write this, I can only imagine how tedious it would be to type on a computer all day. The article suggests to assign employees to do one task that involves people a day to break up the monotony. I think this is a good strategy, but there are other ways to get your employees off of the computer and interacting. You could have a break each day where people are allowed to talk and mingle, or organize other company social events. The firm in the article works for non-profit firms, so as a way to keep employees motivated you could have them volunteer at the organizations they work with. They can leverage the fact that their business is about helping people.

I agree that adding more interactive elements is good, but to stop burnout, there is much more that can and should be done.

April 23, 2006

Crunch time - Motivation or Destruction?

Seeing as it is the end of the semester, and I am getting slammed with projects, papers, and finals, it got me thinking about crunch time. I know that when I have a lot on my plate, I get frustrated, and then just do it until its done. It can be very effective for me, and enjoyable to some extent. I was thinking of how you could utilize the crunch time mentality in the workplace to get people motivated. Also, I think crunch time could be used to prevent procrastination on large projects, if you were to lay out a milestone system for completion of the project. A milestone system that sets "close" deadlines would force a sense of urgency and importance into a project that may flounder otherwise. I know I do my best work when the subject is fresh in my mind, so this factor would be beneficial as well, because the project wouldn't be done so much later when the information is a memory. Putting light pressure is a slightly dangerous game, but it could work as a good motivator for the right group of people. Finding and applying these motivation techniques in the right ways and for the right people is what makes a good manager in my opinion.

April 18, 2006

Motivation and award policies

I found this article on the WWW:

http://www.volunteerpower.com/archive/2004/newsletter23.htm

I thought the most interesting point of this article was its emphasis on making rewards public. It also discusses how it is important to have significant and meaningful rewards, which I have discussed before and agree with. There is also an emphasis on only rewarding the extraordinary, and letting people know about the reward. The desired effect is that people will say "wow, he/she deserved that award."

What I think this model lacks is the ability to give less significant rewards. Not everyone will be an outstanding performer, and some people will not want to be put on the spot like that. I agree that for the top level rewards this kind of recognition should be done, but there need to be small rewards to keep everyone who isn't the top dog motivated. Giving a small but personalized reward to someone that achieves a goal will mean a whole lot more to them than just a thank you note. The more people you can spur onward, the more big rewards you can give, which is a good thing.

April 16, 2006

Happy Easter! - Holiday motivation?

First of all, Happy Easter!
And because today is easter, it made me think of how the holidays affect motivation in the workplace. I don't really know the answer to this question. Do people get pumped up and work harder, or do they slack because they are at work instead of at home?

The next logical question is can you use the fact that a holiday is coming to motivate your employees? I think it would be really difficult to do because people are such diverse creatures, but I would like to know if anyone had any ideas/opinions (and I was thinking of things other than holiday pay/bonuses).

April 12, 2006

Opinions about Motivation - A forum for discussion

I would like to ask anyone that has motivation advice to post comments with your advice.

Here are some ideas I had:

On the front end, in retail/sales industries, screen for people that really know love and understand the product. I conducted a career interview recently and it really helped to enlighten me to the importance of knowing the product. If someone really cares about what they are doing, they will be naturally motivated to work harder.

I also really believe in flexible scheduling, because if I work on my own terms I get much more done and feel a lot better about it. Another important factor in motivation is an outlet for employees to show their personality (like encouraging creative decoration of workspace). If your employees are able to connect with each other on some level other than short conversations at the watercooler, teambuilding will be a much easier task. I think the conclusion from this is that creativity/expression and motivation are linked together.

March 29, 2006

Interesting ideas for motivation

This person has some non-conventional ideas:

http://www.sideroad.com/Entrepreneur/business-motivation.html

This article by Nancy Wurtzel discusses what she finds to be good guidelines for motivation. Inspiration, goal setting, networking, rewards, exercise, organization, and motivational materials are her main points for motivation. Keep in mind that this caters to small business owners, but I am not so sure that networking is a motivator. Finding a group of people you can talk to about business is really what she is talking about. I think having a network of small business owners could be motivating if everyone is doing well, but if the local economy takes a hit, the whole group may become demotivated. I see her point, but I am not sure having a network is central to being motivated. Things like inspiration, goal setting, rewarding yourself, and being organized all lead to quality work and motivation. I haven't encountered this before, but I can see her point that exercise can be motivating. Being healthy and doing a good workout help to make you happier, so I think it is reasonable to say that having a schedule and goals and rewards while working out will help you to be motivated in the business world. Surprisingly, she suggests use of good and cheap motivational materials like books, CD's and DVDs. I think this kind of thing could be used well, but generally has a negative stigma around it and most people tune out or laugh at these kinds of things when they are over.

Her parting advice is good advice, and that is to keep what you start in motion. If you start a motivation initiative and let it die, it will probably demotivate your employees.