1 All people are motivated

Some people are like water in a faucet. They have the motivation; all you have to provide is the opportunity. Others are like mountain streams, which flow swiftly but follow their own channels.

People, too, may move energetically, but towards their own goals. We in management should make it worth their while to channel their motivation towards the results management is seeking.

People do things for their reasons, not for yours or mine

We in management have to show employees what is in it for them when they follow behaviours that benefit the company. We can show them by using rewards and recognition, appealing to their sense of pride and achievement.

People change because of pain

When the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing, people will change. For example, Americans did not start buying smaller, fuel-efficient cars until the pain of high petrol prices became greater than the pain of switching to less roomy and less powerful cars.

The key to effective communication is identification

When something becomes personal, it becomes important. When our clients or our employees begin to identify with who we are and what we are, good things begin to happen.

In dealing with employees, it is not enough to appeal to them on the basis of loyalty to the company. They need personal reasons for showing this loyalty. Whether we are instituting a new educational programme or undergoing a total restructuring, we can get our employees on board more readily if we show them how the change will affect them for the better.

The best way to get people to pay attention to you is to pay attention to them

If you listen to individuals long enough, they will tell you what their concerns and problems are.

It is important that executives listen to their staff and associates. We need to take the time to get to know them, not just by name, but also by their interests and aspirations.

Ask them friendly questions about how they are, what they did over the weekend and what they are doing on holiday. Then listen. It is amazing what you will learn.

6 Pride is a powerful motivator

If we find out what makes our people proud, we can use that insight to channel their motivation. Pride is tied closely to self-esteem.

My friend, Robert W. Darvin, founded several successful companies, including Scandinavian Design. His observations on self-esteem are worth repeating: “There’s only one thing that counts in a business: building the self-esteem of your employees. If an employee comes to work not liking his job, not feeling good about himself, you can be sure that your customers will go away not liking or feeling good about your company.”

You can’t change people, you can only change their behaviours

To change behaviour, you must change feelings and beliefs. This requires more than training. It requires education. When you train people, you just try to teach them a task; when you educate people, you deal with them at a deeper level relative to behaviour, feelings and beliefs.

8 The employee’s perception becomes the executive’s reality

This is an important point. Suppose you send an employee to a developmental workshop or seminar and he comes back brimming with new ideas and information.

But you have not been exposed to all this stimulating stuff, so your behaviour doesn’t change.

The employee realises this and concludes that the behaviour he observes in you is the behaviour you want. This may not be the case at all. You may want the employee to implement all these new ideas, but your employee’s perception is the reality you get.

9 You consistently get the behaviours you consistently expect and reinforce

We should look for ways to reward employees for doing the things we want them to do. The reward may take the form of financial incentives, prizes or simply public recognition of a job well done.

Reinforcement can be positive or negative, as my Roundtable partner, Ken Blanchard, has taught us. If employees learn that a certain type of behaviour results in lower earnings, less favourable hours or less desirable territories, they will adjust their behavioural patterns.

10 We all judge ourselves by our motives, but we judge others by their actions

Put another way, we are inclined to excuse in ourselves behaviour that we find unacceptable in others. When our employees are late for work, it is because they are irresponsible and have no interest in their jobs. When we are late for work, it is because we were attending to necessary details that had to be taken care of.

When employees engage in undesirable behaviour, we should not try to assess motives or change them. Just deal with the behaviour. We can’t change the motives of our employees, but through positive or negative reinforcement you can affect their actions.

Follow these principles and you will find yourself surrounded by motivated employees who will channel their energies towards your corporate goals in which they have personal stakes.


Article by Dr Nido Qubein, an educator, business leader and professional speaker. For more information, visit www.nidoqubein.com