Merge's Blog

To motivate employees, tell them why!

WhyI am often asked about zero-cost or inexpensive ways to motivate employees, so periodically, I offer up ideas here on my blog.  In the past, I’ve written about how saying thank you, offering flexible working hours to employees, and thanking an employee’s spouse and family are all powerful ways to create a positive working atmosphere that fosters high productivity and performance.  Today’s idea: just as simple, yet equally powerful – tell people why! 

This may sound really obvious, but it often gets missed.  I repeatedly see managers and supervisors issuing edicts to staff without telling them “why”.  Let’s face it, you didn’t buy “because I said so” when you were three years old, so why should you as an adult?  Employees appreciate understanding the reasons behind decisions, and perhaps more importantly, it’s hugely motivating … in two ways.  First, when you take the time to explain the reasoning behind a decision, it demonstrates that you respect your staff’s intelligence and abilities.  Second, a dialogue about “why” inevitably involves your employee and thus creates greater commitment to the action and subsequent results.

Now most managers don’t withhold this information deliberately; it’s just that it takes time to do so, and everybody is busy.  In the moment, it seems far easier to just tell people what to do, right?  Wrong.  Take the time to tell people why, and you’ll find that you’ll achieve your intended outcome quicker and more easily than if you just issue orders.

Well, what do you think?  What gets in the way of telling employees why?  Is it a shortage of time, as I believe, or is it something else?

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