How do you Motivate Employees?

Netflix produced a slideshow that got quite a number of my colleagues chatting. The topic was about culture and how to instill it. It was excellent and it got me thinking further. Netflix talked about how they were paying their employees top of the market all the time and how employees should be aware of their market value all the time. I thought this is interesting, but it has a fatal assumption. My experience and the research of The Carrot Principle is that most people aren’t motivated incrementally by money. [Note OC Tanner bought the Carrots brand, but then the founders, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton moved on.]

Now, of course, they need to make a certain salary to pay their bills and enjoy their lifestyle, but it’s unlikely that a few thousand more will motivate them 360 days of the year. In fact, it’s most likely not to.

What is more likely to be motivating is lots of small (or possibly, medium) incentives and rewards that are died directly to the great things they’re doing. And the best part? Some of these don’t cost a cent.

The most citied reward that motivates people to do a great job is a simple thank you. Really. It’s so pathectically simple, it’s so valuable and most managers forget it. When I ran Conversify, on a weekly basis, I would send out a thank you email to the whole team, thanking them very specifically for what they had done that week. When I gave each of them exit interviews, most employees said this really mattered to them, much more than it should have. (Note this was a virtual company, but the same could work for a loud over the cube walls thank you.)

Speaking of virtual, working from home is a HUGE benefit. It really forces a company to focus on work done rather than face time and it allows employees to manage their own time better. It also makes it easier for employees to work outside normal business hours and —best of all—it is not only a free benefit, but usually saves money because you don’t have to pay for an office and productivity increases!

Schedule freedom is also a huge benefit and doesn’t necessarily require one to have a virtual staff. I had staff pitch me as to why they should have a weekday off and work weekends instead. This provided us weekend coverage for our clients at no incremental cost.

The Carrot Principle suggests that after three months you should ask your employees if you have lived up to their expectations.

Instead of micromanaging, try to empower your staff by allowing them to define their work, how they approach things and mentoring them. We would speak about their strengths (using Strenghts Finder as a jumping off point) and what they enjoyed doing, so the work was defined by people’s passions as much as possible. This made for phenomenal team work.

If we worked exceptionally long hours that took them away from their loved ones, I asked them where their favorite restaurant was and gave them a gift certificate to it along with a thank you card for their significant other thanking them for letting us have them for so long.

If they did something that really contributed to the good of the company, we compensated them based on the size of contribution.

I recorded things they loved and instead of giving them money, I got them gifts that they were passionate about.

At a year anniversary they got a $100 gift, at year 2, they got $200 and so on.

What do you do to motivate your team? 

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