Work Life: Effective Motivation

 The Nice Stuff Works Better

(Originally published on Wednesday, July 10, 2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By: Jhoanna O. Gan-So 

Bosses have different ways of motivating employees to improve their performance.

Smart ones use several methods of reward and punishment and adjust their approach according to circumstances.

In my experience, I have found that rewards and punishments are equally effective depending on the situation and the type of people you manage. But in general, people respond more to rewards, incentives, promotions, recognition and all the nice stuff. Occasionally, however, punishments or “threats” may be warranted; but using these can become counter-productive and dangerous, too. If you threaten and put people down often enough, they might get paralyzed by fear and begin to lose focus. Instead of finding ways to improve performance, they might get caught up with just fighting the perceived threat.

Such is the case of a reader of mine:

I’ve been connected for two years to a real estate company as an AVP in Marketing. My position gives me a basic living subsidy, over-ride commissions and the use of the company vehicle. In the previous year, I used to be no. 3 among the 15 Marketing Directors. At times, I would even be no. 1 and no. 2. But two months ago, my Marketing Directors were transferred to another group. Hence, I am now in survival mode and currently at no. 3 among four AVPs. My concern is that our EVP has been threatening to dissolve our group if we don’t increase sales. As a result, we have been under tremendous pressure for the past few months. Although I am determined to fight, the threats are becoming worse. What should I do?—Threatened Abe

My response:

From a relational perspective, it would be great if you can talk to your EVP and calmly explain to him that you understand how critical sales is for the company and that you are doing many things to increase sales. However, his approach (or “threat of dissolution”) is becoming counterproductive to your sales team’s morale. Point out gently that you would appreciate it very much if he tries a different approach. You need to do this in such a way that he won’t feel offended or alienated by you.

From an emotional perspective, it would be great if you can find some sort of stress release. I know Sales is highly stressful since you have quotas to reach. Two of our own company’s top sales people actually had a very difficult time getting the numbers the beginning of this year and it almost paralyzed them. To solve the problem, one of them opened up to management and sought support. The other one took a short retreat to reenergize herself. With the help of our Mancomm and some smart changes in their sales routine, things eventually improved and they are back on track.

From an HR perspective, I think it’s wise to revisit the Employment Contract you signed with the company, as well as the company policies for Termination as it pertains to Sales People. Much of your protection will come from what type of employment you have, the provisions in your contract, the HR policies and processes in your company and the Philippine Labor Laws. Since a sales job is highly quantitative, much will be based on your sales results. Normally, verbal warnings are the first steps for disciplinary action. Written warnings carry more weight and these are actually needed for an employer to terminate employees if due process is to be followed.

Meanwhile, I think it’s not too late yet. You still have your job. The real estate industry has been booming for the past few years. You can still focus and concentrate on generating more sales, despite the threat.

Motivating Employees

I wish I could talk to Mr. Abe’s boss and point out that his “threatening” approach is de-motivating his people. But since I do not really know him, allow me to use this column to reach out to similar bosses out there.

Fear is a potent tool. Its powers can motivate people to move, but it could just as easily demoralize people. I personally would only use it as a last resort.

The job of every boss is not just about pushing people to do what they want. Great bosses take the time to understand what drives their people and figure out what buttons to push to positively impact their subordinates. They also arm their people with the means and tools to let them achieve their goals. They push, encourage, guide and support others to be great at what they do.

Jhoanna O. Gan-So is president of Businessmaker Academy, HR Club Philippines and Teach It Forward Organization. Her company holds corporate skills training programs and HR seminars for various individuals and corporations. To know more about the seminars and services that they offer, you may visit http://www.businessmaker-academy.com orwww.hrclubphilippines.com. You may also call (632)6874645. E-mail your comments and questions to: mbworklife@gmail.com.

 

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Posted on September 1, 2011, in Business Agenda Classifieds Columns, Work Life and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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