Merge's Blog

“One size doesn’t fit all” when it comes to motivating your employees!!

motivating your employeesAs regular readers know, the topic of motivating your employees comes up often here on the blog.  I am repeatedly gobsmacked at how some managers are absolutely clueless as to what it takes.  Really, it isn’t that hard, or at least it shouldn’t be!

Motivating your employees was a problem in the early sixties …

Before Mary Kay Ash founded Mary Kay Cosmetics in the early sixties, she worked as a salesperson for Stanley Home Products, and she recalls that she won a prize in an internal sales contest.  While she appreciated the recognition, she was not entirely thrilled with her prize.  “It was a flounder light.  Something you’re supposed to pin on your hip boots when you fish at night!”  She remembers, “I was devastated. What a terrible thing to give any woman. You can tell it was a man who was awarding those prizes.”

While this faux pas may have occurred over sixty years ago (and it is likely that some women appreciate fishing gear), its message is still timely to leaders and managers. Basic motivational theory says that employees do what they see is rewarded, and what motivates one employee may not necessarily be a motivator for the next.  Successful leaders and managers know there is no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to recognizing, rewarding and motivating employees. It is critical to understand employees individually, and to tailor the reward to fit the employee.  In Mary Kay’s case, not only was the flounder light not a motivator, it actually became a de-motivator!

But it shouldn’t be today

Take the time to understand what drives each of your employees (and in some cases, your coworkers).  Some people thrive on public recognition, others value private acknowledgement.  If you are going to offer a token of your appreciation, don’t give tickets for a baseball game to someone who would prefer to attend the opera.  Yet others see greater responsibility as reward, while some value an afternoon off to run errands.  Remember, tailor your rewards to fit your employees.

So how are you adapting your approach when it comes to motivating your employees?  Perhaps more importantly, what are you doing to ensure that you understand your employees’ goals, hopes and aspirations?  I’d love to hear more about your experiences.  Please share your thoughts by adding your comment below.

If you’d like to read some of past blogs that talked about motivating your employees, either click here, or you can also go to any of the Categories listed on the right side on the main blog page.


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