Forget Money, Focus on Praise -- Motivating Employees is Crucial

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Employees are driven by praise and recognition. Too many companies focus more on maintaining their equipment than they do on motivating their employees. Money, however, is not a motivator. “There is little correlation between pay and performance,”

A motivated employee is a productive employee. And productive employees can do wonders for a company’s bottom line. They provide exceptional customer service, which creates customer loyalty and results in increased sales. They also stay with the company longer, which decreases the costs of hiring and training new employees.

Unfortunately, says John Tschohl, founder and president of the Service Quality Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota, too many companies focus more on maintaining their equipment than they do on motivating their employees. And often, thos

e that do attempt to motivate their people do so with money.

Money, however, is not a motivator. “There is little correlation between pay and performance,” Tschohl says. “Recognition is much more effective. People have an incredible need for recognition.”

Motivation need not carry a hefty price tag. It doesn’t have to be a huge bonus or a trip to Tahiti. In fact, in some cases it can cost nothing. It can be something as simple as a word of praise, a note of thanks, a special parking spot, or a sincere round of applause. Tschohl offers the following ideas to motivate employees, improve their performance, and increase their productivity.

Use positive reinforcement and public praise. Too often the only time employees get any attention is when they make a mistake. They need to know that their contributions are noticed and appreciated. A well-deserved word of praise can do much to set the standard for quality service at a company. Deliver “thank yous” in person as often as possible, Tschohl says. Recognize exceptional employees in the company publication and acknowledge them at company functions.

Be timely, specific and sincere. Acknowledgement of a job well done must be timely in order to be effective. A word of praise delivered a month after the employee has performed exceptionally doesn’t have the impact it would immediately after she has done so. And, Tschohl says, “the more specific you make it, the more sincere it will be.”

Train employees. When you take the time and make the investment to train employees, they will feel valued. And employees who feel valued not only are more motivated, they are more productive. Give them the training and the tools they need to do their jobs—and to do them well.

Empower employees. Empowerment is a powerful motivator. Employees who are given the authority to handle customer complaints and concerns on the spot—and to bend company rules in the process—are crucial to the success of any business. “When you empower employees, you are telling them that you trust them,” Tschohl says. “It’s also important that you let them know they won’t be fired if they make a mistake in serving the customer.”

Coaching and counseling are critical. Encourage employees to set goals and help them accomplish those goals. “When you do,” Tschohl says, “you develop a cohesive team that will drive your business. Many employees have self-imposed limitations that prevent them from reaching their goals. If you want to build a high-performing dream team, you must help to build the self-confidence and self-esteem of your employees.”

Treat employees well. The way you treat your employees is the way your employees will treat your customers. When employees feel good about their jobs and the company, they perform efficiently, effectively, and enthusiastically.

Become a great leader. “A great leader spends time every day trying to catch employees doing great things,” Tschohl says. “A great leader then reinforces that behavior through recognition and praise.”

About John Tschohl

John Tschohl is an international service strategist and speaker. Described by Time and Entrepreneur magazines as a customer service guru, he has written several books on customer service, including Loyal for Life, e-Service; The Customer is Boss, Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service, and Ca$hing In: Make More Money, Get a Promotion, Love Your Job. John also has developed more than 26 customer service training programs that have been distributed and presented throughout the world. His bimonthly strategic newsletter is available online at no charge.

Money, however, is not a motivator. “There is little correlation between pay and performance.”

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