Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Leadership Let Down

You work really hard. In fact, when you are not at work- you are still working really hard. You are devoted, passionate, and most importantly you are dedicated to the mission of the organization. Leadership commends you on your devotion- yet, when it comes time for that promotion/wage increase/performance review, you are not ready/up to par/(insert leadership cliché here).

Why does this happen? How can we be told that we are great performers one day and not up to snuff the next? Where does the motivation come from once you realize you may never reach the carrot at the end of the stick? How can you be expected to be a model employee when there is no reinforcement of that exemplary behavior? 

I think that there is a multitude of reasons why this happens, but regardless of the why- leaders need to take the time to understand the impact that motivation/reinforcement plays into the success of their team. When employees are working to serve the mission of the organization, business gets to move ahead. When those workers are moving mountains to serve the mission of the organization- then business soars to the top.

Often times, leaders rely on annual reviews to show top performers their appreciation. The problem with this is that businesses encounter many obstacles throughout the course of the year. When I worked in retail we had an annual performance review. This was the same time that you would receive your wage increase. If times were tough for the sales of the store, suddenly that would impact your wage review (even if those sales quickly recovered after your paperwork was signed). What message does that send to employees? “Since you are our most dedicated employee, surely you understand how business can be- but thanks for the effort. We will make up for it next time.”

The problem with methods like this is that when you continually take advantage of an employee’s “understanding” nature, you risk losing them altogether and there may not be a “next time” to make it up to them.

In order to maintain motivation, I suggest the following to leadership:

  • Speak to your organization’s mission and vision everyday
  • Let employees know that the time and effort they invest directly impacts the mission and moves everyone ahead
  • Set goals (long term & short) with your team so they know where they need to go and when they have arrived
  • Celebrate progress
  • Celebrate successes
  • Don’t wait for an annual review to show appreciation- find other ways to show that you care
  • Be consistent with employees- don’t only let the squeaky wheel get the grease
  • Say thank you

Ensuring that your employees stay motivated to work is the only way your organization can move forward. Great leaders take the time to show employees how much they mean to the organization.

By Kristen Keyes

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