TTG Consultants
TTG Consultants Human Resources Consultants Specializing in  Career Management and Corporate Change
Increasing Staff Productivity

by David J. Bowman

They are age-old management questions: how to motivate employees for higher productivity and how to get them to produce over and beyond established goals without busting the budget. Fortunately, there are several solutions.

We must remember that while employees need money to survive, they often are motivated by other elements in the workplace. As humans, we all have different motivators. In my consulting practice, I've found that - besides money - there are eight primary employee needs which, when satisfied, become motivators for higher productivity. When management can determine and then best satisfy its employees' needs, it will create a process that promotes productivity without going over budget. Following are the eight needs with some tips on how to best use them to motivate.

Personal growth and development. To satisfy this need, management must match employees' interests, strengths and skills with the job to be done. If there is no match, or if it's minimal, interest in the job may wane, and so will productivity.

Management should perform 360º assessment of needed job core competencies, duties and responsibilities and compare the results with incumbent capabilities. This test will examine whether employees in specific areas are fulfilled, motivated and productive. Many employees - particularly generations "X" and "Y" - feel work should be more than mere drudgery. They look on it as only a part of the total life experience, and like life itself, it should provide for their personal growth and development. If these needs aren't met in the work environment, these employees may be less than fully motivated and productive, and often will move on, to develop themselves elsewhere.

Challenging work. Those with this need want to exercise their talents to attain success. They are self-motivated, so management must provide challenging assignments in order for them to consistently produce.

And, they must be allowed to learn from failure. For example, when a project flops, rather than assigning blame, supervisors must discuss with those responsible what was learned from the experience so the failure won't happen again. What was the cause? Was the timing bad? Were there enough resources? What about incorrect information? Management's proper handing of occasional failures can be a motivator for future higher productivity.

Recognition. When employees have done a good job, particularly when they've succeeded in a challenging assignment, nearly all want to be recognized for doing so. When this doesn't occur, the result often is de-motivating (a "what's the use, nobody cares" attitude). But, when honestly and genuinely offered by supervisors and other management, praise and recognition can be one of the greatest motivators.

Authority. Those with this need like to lead, direct, influence and control others. They should be given decision-making opportunities on projects that may motivate them to produce with maximum effort.

Interaction and affiliation. People with these needs should be with others, and must find the social aspects of the workplace to be a valuable and rewarding experience. To motivate these employees, provide opportunities to work on teams, as well as to participate in group projects and meetings.

Independence. Some employees need freedom to set their own schedules, to make their own decisions and to work without interference from others. These are the people who want to work rather strange hours. Often, those in creative functions and the arts are highly motivated and produce great things when this need is fulfilled.

Predictability. Many people are best motivated when they have job security. A predictable environment, steady income and health benefits, as well as a pleasant, safe, harassment-free, non-confrontational workplace are adequate to satisfy, motivate and create productivity in those with this need.

Fairness. To satisfy this need, there must be equality of work, pay, hours and treatment. For employees with this need, favoritism becomes a de-motivator, and it may lower productivity substantially.

Of course, money is an important motivator too! But, be careful. Sometimes, individual cash awards for excellence can cause a reduction in teamwork (and thus productivity), since some employees may concentrate on their own personal cash gains. Unless cash bonuses and incentives are awarded for the right reasons and in a fair and equitable way, de-motivation and lower productivity of individuals and teams may occur. It's wise to balance individual awards with those for team success.

Top management can help their bottom lines by coaching supervisors on the benefits of assessing employee needs, and then satisfying them. The result can be a motivated workforce that creates higher productivity and greater profits.

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    Find out more about Dave Bowman...

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