Managers can be great motivators with these…

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Rey Elbo-125

In The Workplace

Our department managers are having difficulties in motivating our workers. What could be the most likely reasons for this? I think we got one major answer when we received an anonymous note from our suggestion box. The unidentified writer speculates that maybe “our managers are not motivated enough to do their job.” How could this be possible when we don’t hear it directly from our managers? — Just Asking.

What motivates people-managers to do their jobs to the best of their ability? The question is too complex for many people, and perhaps for the managers themselves. But the best answer can be summed in one sentence — you can’t give what you don’t have. If you, as a manager are not motivated, then how can you motivate other people?

Therefore, it’s a must that top management focus its attention on those in middle management — line supervisors and managers. If money is not a problem, as most managers are well-compensated, then how would you handle the situation of those who are demotivated, disengaged or simply coasting along? And how?

Let’s pause for a while to digest that. As I wrote in my column last week, I must reiterate that there are “Six reasons why employee cash rewards can fail” (Nov. 10, 2017) as I must tell you that material things, including money, are not the best motivator. So what works better than money?

One important thing to do is of course, to hear it directly from the horse’s mouth. There’s not much difference when you do the same thing with ordinary workers. If you can talk to your non-management workers, then the more reason you should talk to your management deputies.

Many psychologists would tell you that it has something to do with the need for achievement, the desire to do something better, or doing more with less, among other personal career targets as reconciled with the company’s goals.

Once again, what works better than money? But wait, you don’t really have to ask that question but rephrase or reframe it so the discussion can be elevated to a higher level. Try the following open-ended questions for size:

One, what makes you passionate working for this organization? There are no right or wrong answers here. Whatever is important to a manager, then no one can question that. David McClelland and David Burnham writes in Harvard Business Review that “managers fall into three motivational groups. Those in the first, affiliative managers, need to be liked more than they need to get things done. Their decisions are aimed at increasing their own popularity rather than promoting the goals of the organization. Managers motivated by the need to achieve — the second group — aren’t worried about what people think of them. They focus on setting goals and reaching them, but they put their own achievement and recognition first.Those in the third group — institutional managers — are interested above all in power.”

Two, what zero-cash management intervention you need? Because money is not a motivator, then how do you expect your own managers to exceed your expectations? At times, it boils down to giving the managers real autonomy, and not only on paper. For example, give them a certain amount of independence so that they can decide even on simple and mundane things, like approving workers’ application for sick or vacation leaves. After all, they’re responsible for the production target of their departments. If a department can’t meet its quota, who will be blamed? I’ve seen managers who are reduced to being glorified clerks who can’t even approve disbursements of P1,000 to buy office supplies.

Three, what would make you stay until retirement? This may not hold water if you’re talking to millennial managers, but, it’s always worth a try. If you know them well, you can expect them to say they prefer that top management exhibit a more democratic coaching style. Regardless of the age bracket, many managers, as well as their workers, don’t like their bosses to be authoritarian, coercive, or dictatorial. Managers, knowing they are also the boss on own turf, would want to be treated with respect.

It is important to understand that there’s not much difference in using the various motivational approaches on managers and on workers. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.