Workers’ Day Special: The Place Of STAFF MOTIVATION In Business

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stockimages2My first major stint at managing people was at the “tender” age of 26. This was the first major job I got after my national service. Interestingly, all the major staffers were older than I was. By my position, I was next to the CEO. In all, we were about thirty or thereabout. The driver assigned to my office as the Manager, Admin/Accounts, was old enough to be my granddad. So, I had a dilemma – how do I make these people work, because they were practically not ready to be ordered around by a “small boy!” 🙂 This, they used both words and action to tell me. How do I conquer my age “disadvantage” and prove to my boss that the Federal Government of Nigeria Scholarship I won back in school for emerging tops in my department (Business Administration and management), and for which my boss was so impressed about, was not a fluke. One thing was certain – I was faced with a practical business management challenge, common with many managers – and that was motivating my subordinates to work, against all odds!

Staff motivation is one of the major functions of a manager. It could be very challenging and dangerous for a business where a manager(s) does not know what motivation means; or does not know the difference between ‘force” and motivation; or at what point a worker needs to be motivated; or the ability to identify a motivator which has elapsed or what approach to adopt to suite each worker.

In my characteristic manner, I will make it as simple as possible. Simply put, motivation is the act of giving somebody a reason or incentive to do something desired. In business sense, it involves doing things that will make a worker to work. It is the driving force behind a worker’s action. It involves making a worker do what you want him to do, even when it is against his wish. It involves making a worker to work.

The question is – what makes workers to work? There is no generally acceptable answer to this question as what motivates a worker might not motivate another. Douglass McGregor, Abraham Maslow, Elton Mayo, Fredrick Taylor, and other experts in the field of human capital management, carried out studies, years back, into this very crucial function of a manager – all attempting to find out what really motivates a worker and what does not. I will not bore you with the details as it would make my post too lengthy. However, if you want to, you can click this link for further reading. But it suffices to say that their work ended up with varied results, thus showing that staff motivation is indeed a complex function of a manager.

As a Business Management student, I carried out a number of research work on motivation as part of my course. My findings was that the best approach to motivation was what I call the Michael Monday’s DISCOVERY APPROACH TO MOTIVATION. This was the magic wand I used (and still use) and it really worked (and has been working) for me. It involves finding out what really makes a worker to work, at any point in time. This is necessary because motivators are not permanent. What motivates a worker today, or even now, might not have the same effect afterwards. This could be it money, promotion, giving a staff responsibility, conducive working environment, welfare packages, care and concern, praises, showing respect to subordinates or the use of force/threats among others.

The use of force/threats have been found to be the most counterproductive. It has been found to breed unhappy, unfriendly, aggressive, criminally-minded and eye-service workers, who only work when they see you. It is very uncommon to find businesses that have good testimonies after using force/threats.

You might ask: what happens where the number of workers is enormous? Simple!  Make use of other managers down the line. This is where regular meetings become handy. That is what I did. It is usually counterproductive to assume that a method that worked on one staff or in another organisation will work for a particular staff or your organisation. Time is also of the essence in motivation. If one thing motivates me in the morning, it might not be a motivator in the afternoon 🙂 This is the main reason why some motivational efforts have failed! Eventually, the worker[s] is fired for his/her poor attitude to work! The fact is that the in-coming staff will come with his/her own traits, different from the erstwhile staff. Where the same mistake/assumption is made, the cycle repeats itself. In this process, a number of organisations have lost key staffers who were simply not properly motivated to work.

An indisputable fact is that a manager’s success or failure is mainly judged by what he is able to achieve…usually through his subordinates. If you agree, then it means that motivation is a very vital and indispensable function of a manager or business owner.

So, are you a manager or an entrepreneur with people working under you? Do you know that EVERY successful business today, has well motivated staffers as one of its secrets? Do you know what motivates your workers to excel at work? Can you say you have been motivating them properly? 

As the world marks the INTERNATIONAL WORKERS’ DAY, I wish all workers of the world a splendid day and a happy celebration. I also urge employers and business managers to adopt the Michael Monday’s DISCOVERY APPROACH TO MOTIVATION so that the geese that lays the golden eggs will get what they rightly deserve which then leads to increased productivity 🙂

HAPPY WORKERS’ DAY and HAPPY NEW MONTH to everyone !!! 🙂

Thanks for your time.

Image courtesy : stockimages/

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Michael M.

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