ARE workers telling the truth when they say they are ill? This question was posed on the Money Programme on BBC Television a few years ago.

British bosses are reporting that more and more of their staff appear to be “skiving” (avoiding work) with faked illnesses and many firms are taking new steps to crack down on malingerers.

While I accept that there will always be people who take time off work for no good reason, I believe managers need to take a long hard look at how they manage their people in the first place.

Perhaps if they made the workplace a far better place than it is, then a lot fewer people would take a “sickie”.

If you want a highly motivated team that does not take time off work for a good reason, does not keep looking for other jobs and makes a positive contribution to your business, there are three things you need to do:

Spend quality time with your people

Note I did not say “quantity time” but “quality time”. One or two minutes of quality time on a regular basis are far more productive than a one-hour review every year.

You need to get to know your team members better and they need to get to know you. It will help you build a relationship with each person. You will gain a much better understanding of your staff and how they are handling the job.

It will also give the impression that you care about each individual and show you are there to help with problems of both a business and personal nature.

Spending quality time will encourage opinions and ideas to flow from your people, and allows you to explain the company’s mission.

It gives them a feeling of being in on things, which is a big motivator. It will also help you build an “early warning system” that goes off at the first sign of any problems your staff may have — at work or in their personal lives.

Finally, spending time with your people builds team spirit and morale.

Give feedback and coach

You need to regularly tell each member of your team when they are doing well and not so well. I read some recent research that said 65 per cent of employees in the United States received no recognition at work over the past year.

My experience tells me it is much the same throughout the world and perhaps much worse in some countries. Some managers still think: “Why should I praise people when they are only doing what they are paid to do?”

Successful managers realise that almost everyone reacts positively to confirming feedback, that is, telling a team member you support whatever you have seen him do or heard him say. It is a compliment or a thank you. Your team member will feel good and be motivated to repeat the behaviour.

But it is also important to tell people when they are not performing. There are too many managers who either ignore poor behaviour or come down on the person like a ton of bricks.

Changing unacceptable behaviour through productive feedback involves certain steps:

•  Do it as soon as possible.

•  Do it in private. Tell the person how you feel about his unacceptable behaviour, not how the organisation or anyone else feels.

•  Focus on one thing at a time and don’t confuse the other person with a whole list of behaviours. Be specific and get input from him. Most importantly, don’t leave him feeling low.

•  Agree on a way forward through coaching. Find out the cause of the poor performance or behaviour and discuss with the team member how to put it right.

Be a believer

The word “empowerment” has become a management buzzword. However, I believe it is one of the most promising but least understood concepts in management today.

Empowerment is about using the knowledge, skills, experience and motivational power that are already within your people.

Most people in teams and organisations throughout the world are under-used. Your team members probably have a lot more to offer in terms of skills, knowledge and experience.

If you can engage them to use these talents, you will motivate them and achieve your business goals.

Article by Alan Fairweather, “The Motivation Doctor”. He is an international business speaker, sales growth expert and the author of four e-books in the How To Get More Sales series. For more information, visit Article source: