Employee Motivation: Perception Isn’t Reality

Tired of walking past your highly qualified staff, only to find them texting their loved ones or surfing the Internet for the latest news on Jennifer Aniston’s love life? Entrepreneur.com offers five myths about employee motivation that you shouldn’t overlook. Here’s the synopsis, but you should read the entire article as it could prove quite useful:

Business owners need to ensure that their employees are productive and eager to do the best job possible–this is especially true during today’s challenging economic times. Yet every industry and every organization has people who simply do not produce work in the quality that they are capable of providing. That can create costly problems for a manager.

Leaders often miss the mark when trying to ramp up employee productivity. Let’s debunk some motivational myths.

1. Money motivates. Of course, if you pay some enough money, they will do almost any job. And when you give bonuses to reward past behavior, the recipients are usually very happy (unless they were expecting a larger bonus).  The staff does a better job following the glow that accompanies added money.

2. Just keep them happy. Employers often go to great lengths to keep their employees happy–some offer game rooms; others have phones with free long-distance access. The theory here is that if we can keep the employees happy during their break time, it will translate into increased motivation and productivity. Unfortunately, this is not very effective.

3. Ignore Conflict. Few people, especially in the professional world, enjoy conflict. Most bosses and employees alike would rather “let something go” or “sweep it under the rug” than make an issue out of it. Too many managers are concerned about being liked that they don’t fulfill their responsibilities to catch problems quickly. Not addressing an employee’s problematic behavior doesn’t help any one.

4. Some people just aren’t motivated. This is a very common misconception. Everyone is motivated–but for different reasons. Walking through the offices, the manager may see someone playing computer games or sending personal email, this could be seen as the individual is not motivated because he’s not attending to the job tasks. But that may not be entirely correct.  At that moment, the “aimless” employee is motivated, perhaps even highly motivated. But that motivation is not work directed, nor is it productive for the company.

5. Smart employees don’t need to be motivated. Being “smart” carries an important cachet in American society. Everyone wants to have smart people working for them because these people are quick to learn, adapt and produce. Employers may erroneously believe that they don’t need to spend much time or attention on these staffers.