Motivation fundamentals, Part 2

Last week we covered the first three elements needed to lay the basis for successful motivation: open communication, safety and commitment. Without these three fundamentals - and the three that follow today - you simply can't motivate your staff. Think about it: How can you inspire and move your folks to do better if they think you don't communicate with them enough or have a commitment to them or the company?

I believe this is an overlooked part of the whole motivational picture. We're usually so wrapped up in how to motivate an employee, we forget about everything else. And if our motivational effort fails, we're prone to thinking it's just the method of motivation that failed, not that there are cracks in the foundation of the employee-manager relationship.

Now, onto the three final pieces of the puzzle:

* Fairness. No one is going to be moved by your efforts if they think they're not treated fairly, be it issues of favoritism of other employees, compensation, job opportunities, you name it.

Step back and take a look at how you treat your employees. Do you treat everyone equally? Are they given the same level of opportunity and advancement? Are people with similar responsibilities, skills and experience compensated equally?

* Respect. This is, I think, the most fundamental element. If you don't have and show respect for your employees and they don't respect you, you can't move forward. Assess the respect level you have with each of your employees, and if you think there's a problem, address it. It's impossible to work for people you don't respect, and if you don't address the issue, you'll end up interviewing job candidates.

* Development opportunities. We know that managing is not only a function of the day-to-day, but also the long term - especially when it comes to your employees' careers. Your folks aren't going to work for you forever; they need to grow and change professionally. While it's their job to handle certain responsibilities for you today, it's your job to get them the training and skills they desire for tomorrow. No one likes a dead-end job, and no one will stay put if they're not given the opportunity to grow. Instead, they'll be off looking for greener pastures.

Before you go one step further in your motivational efforts, assess how you stack up against these factors. Repairing deficiencies in any of these areas could go a long way to improving your relationship with your employees - and succeeding in future motivational attempts.

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