Motivating Employees – Thinking Outside the Box

jerry clark newsletterIt’s a common misconception in business that the number one motivational tool for our employees is money. While financial considerations are always part of the equation, it is often not the prime motivator for all of our staff.

Different people are in different places in their lives and sometimes have wants and needs that are not clearly evident. It is our task as Managers to find the best way we can motivate our people to have them be the best they can be.

Sometimes, we throw money around as the carrot to get our goals accomplished and are astounded when it doesn’t work. Why? Because money wasn’t the issue.

It’s up to us to find what the employees’ prime motivator is and if possible use it as the tool to get them moving along the path we desire.

Back in the 1980’s an import store was having difficulty attracting strong quality Service Advisors. Their pay scale was great, but the Manufactures brand was just starting to get some recognition and people were reluctant to make the move. They advertised that their Advisors were given Demo’s which at that time was unheard of. It solved the problem for them by separating them from all the other dealers’ offers, and giving bragging rights to their staff showing that the company cared about them and respected the importance of the Advisors position in their company.

Another dealer had an issue getting Technicians to increase their productivity; money was not the answer. In doing a little digging the Fixed Operations Director found that the culture in that area was for the Technicians every Friday to hand over their paycheck to their wife (momma) who then gave them their weekly set allowance. If they stayed late producing additional income their personal allowance stayed the same, so what was in it for them? I realize that this sounds like a strange concept to most managers, but in this particular rural area this was the way they did things.

The technician’s goal in life was to make enough to get by and then spend all of their free time not earning additional income, but out in the woods hunting and fishing. All of them had interest in new rifles and shotguns, but on their meager allowances had no way of obtaining them. If they earned more income by staying late or working harder increasing their production, “Momma” kept the additional dollars to run the household and their allowance stayed the same.

The Management of the store decided to purchase a new, but inexpensive shotgun and offer that as the prize for highest increase in productivity in the shop over a three month period. They mounted it on the wall in the Service Managers office as a daily reminder of what could be theirs. It worked, now there was a personal gain for the technician as well as the added income boost for the family. All of a sudden, we were motivating the techs in a way that meant something to them.

I have seen dealers get the wives involved. How about a contest with the prize being a night out for the couple including dinner at a nice restaurant in town and a movie or maybe include $20.00 to pay for the Babysitter? Let the wives know in advance that their husband has the opportunity to win this for them and see how that gets them going.

Most dealers have access for hard to get tickets for sporting events. A pair of tickets to a football, hockey, basketball, or NASCAR event could be a big deal for most of our employees. Maybe if the event is a concert, you add one night for two at a local hotel and breakfast the next morning.

Employees with young children might enjoy passes to a local amusement park, museum, science center or zoo. It makes an employee feel good when they tell their children that Mom or Dad got these tickets from work. It increases their self-image and shows that we as employers care.

There are a lot of ways to get people moving. We are all very different, so we need to look at what works individually and think outside the box.

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