Help! I Sent Them an Email, but They Won’t Get Back to Me
By Beth Standlee, CEO, TrainerTainment
Motivation is an interesting thing. As managers and leaders, we’re almost always trying to get a team member to do the job at hand. It’s the job of a manager and/or leader to observe the behavior of a team member and then use the knowledge of that observation to continue to inspire and motivate.
With all of those thoughts in mind, I want to share an amazing story in human behavior from an 8-year-old. I realize we don’t often employ 8-year-olds, but the lessons learned from children could be the simplest way to grow.
The other day, I was at a friend’s house and we were all just sitting out on the front porch on a hot summer afternoon in Texas. There were three generations enjoying the day. The matriarch of the group, GiGi, was noticing the behavior of her great grandson. He was focused on playing a game on his iPad instead of interacting. GiGi, the equivalent to the owner in this “learning work” situation, wanted the team member to do something different.
Our business owner wanted the team member to stop one behavior and start another. She looked around and decided the front porch could use some organization. Doesn’t this sound familiar? I bet you’ve spotted a team member standing around and easily found some job that needed to be done.
GiGi strategized and came up with a plan that she believed would work beautifully. In one fell swoop she looked her grandson in the eye and said, “Lex, I’ll give you $10 to clean off the front porch.” Imagine her shock when Lex faced off with the boss and replied, “That’s okay, GiGi. I believe I have enough money for an 8-year-old.”
I have to admit, I burst out laughing. And while this is funny if you are grandmother dealing with an 8-year-old, it’s not very funny when you’re a business owner and think you provided a good incentive for your employee to do a job that that needs to be done.
I found it fascinating because so many times we think money is the motivator and that money will make people do what we want them to do. I wonder how many employees think “I have enough money.” They may not say it out loud, but they say it with their actions when they call off from a shift. Every FEC owner has the experience of a team member who calls in sick so they can go have fun with their friends.
The role of a leader is to observe the behavior of a team member and to pay attention to what incentive might motivate that employee. It’s different for each person. In our 8-year-old’s story, I understood GiGi was interested in changing her grandson’s behavior with regard to his iPad use. As a bonus, she could get some help with organizing the front porch on a hot summer day. I think may have gotten a better result if she had said, “Hey, give me your iPad. I want you to clean that off the front porch and you can have the iPad back when you’re finished.” The economy of that relationship would have supported the incentive.
Had she used this approach, the “boss” would get the job done and the “team member” would have been rewarded with something meaningful to him – getting the iPad back!
Motivation is tricky. The incentive must match the desire of the receiver. I don’t think it’s a one-size-fits-all program. Some people like recognition, others like reward, and some are most motivated by added responsibility. It is the job of the manager/leader/owner to pay attention to the behavior and then apply the right kind of inspiration! Aubrey Daniels and Daniel Pink are both experts on the topic. Pick up a copy of Drive The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us or Oops, 13 Management Practices that Waste Money (and what to do instead).
Beth is the CEO of TrainerTainment LLC, a training company devoted to the family entertainment and hospitality industries. Beth and her team are focused on helping the companies they serve make more money through sales, guest service, leadership and social media marketing training. Training products and services are delivered in person, through books and DVDs, and virtually with e-learning courses, webinar development and 24/7 online access. Visit her company’s website at www.trainertainment.com.