Business Leadership

The Art of Motivation

Written by Clayton Reeves for Gaebler Ventures

Motivation can be difficult for any size corporation, but for a small company it can kill initiatives if even one or two people don't buy in. Take these steps to make sure that your company remains flexible to change.

Motivation is a tricky task.

It is difficult to tell when you need to change your approach, and by the time you can measure how effectively you have been motivating people it is sometimes too late to really change the course. Sometimes heads nod forward when minds disagree. It is easier for people to agree at the beginning of the initiative and then not put it into practice.

Where and Why

Sometimes people know why a move is being made. Other times, they know where the new direction is going, but not the reasoning behind it. This may seem like it should have two bullets, but these complement one another in a significant way.

When making decisions, these two should be woven together to create a holistic direction and tool for motivation. Let the employees know that there is a destination and a real reason for going there.

Small companies have an easier time of changing directions and being flexible than large corporations. However, there is still a risk that if a couple employees do not buy in, there could be disaster. That is why it is even more important for a small firm to make sure all their employees buy into the idea of the change.

Focus on What is Next

Change the focus of the firm to the new directive. Make sure that teams are talking and communicating about the new direction and the ways they are going to work towards achieving their goals.

Don't let them start discussing the old way that things were done, or fall back into old habits. This is easy for people to do. That is why they are called habits, because they are habitual. However, it is necessary when instituting change to make sure people change those old habits into habits that focus on the new initiative.

Rewards for the New

A little compensation never hurt anyone. Generally speaking, excess performance can be directly related to level of compensation received for it. If you reward people for really excelling at implementing the new initiative, then it will motivate people to quickly change their ways and show a zest for the new.

It may seem like you are buying their loyalty, and in a sense you are; but this is how you can make sure that people stick with the changes and don't waiver from the path. Cash compensation usually is a pretty good way to do this.

The Motivation of Crisis

In an earlier article about the silver lining on a bad ecomony, I discussed how crisis has often been a motivating factor when creating new things.

Make sure that you instill into your employees the sense that this needs to be done as soon as possible without delay.

You don't have to make up stories about corporate ruination, but definitely instill a sort of urgency in your employees. If they feel the changes are important and actually make a difference, then generally people will be more motivated to switch their habits.

How to Get There

Let's assume you've started the initiative and there is already a direction and reasoning for the new initiative, as laid out in the very first bullet. However, without a pragmatic plan of attack, there is no roadmap on how to get to the final goal.

Make sure you have an exact plan of attack on how to get to where you want to go. If you are changing software systems, make sure you have rolling implementations and training set up before you introduce the change initiative. This will make it seem more real and doable than if you wait until a subsequent meeting. Don't delay in giving this advice, or naysayers will have a chance to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of your employees.

In ancient Greece, there are stories about how generals would burn their ships upon landing on ground so that retreat was no longer an option. In the corporate world, this isn't an option.

After all, this isn't an invasion per se and these are your peers and employees, not soldiers. However, a lesson can be learned from this sort of dedication. Make sure your employees are committed, and you will have little trouble initiating a change schedule at your company.

When he's not playing racquetball or studying for a class, Clayton Reeves enjoys writing articles about entrepreneurship. He is currently an MBA student at the University of Missouri with a concentration in Economics and Finance.

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