Motivating employees can be difficult. Bryce Sanders explores the other options practice owners could go besides offering a fatter pay cheque.
Did you hear about the guy who booked a really cheap cruise and found himself chained to an oar in a Roman galley? The drummer set the rhythm, cracked the whip and everybody rowed. When the cruise was over the fellow asked: “How much do we tip the drummer?”
When you are manage people in a high pressure environment, motivating them to make their best effort can be a challenge. Your clients face the same problems in their business. As a numbers guy, paying them more is the first solution that comes to mind. High payroll means high overhead in bad times as well as good times. What are other ways to motivate people?
Knowing and understanding the people who report to you is the first step in learning how to motivate them.
- Bonuses: Unlike salary increases, bonuses are a one-time event tied to the success of the business or the performance of that individual. If business improves, bonuses continue. If business declines, bonuses follow suit. You are handing over money, but not as an open ended commitment.
- Rainmaking: Relating to clients and prospects comes naturally to some people. They have the right personality. They also have the drive to cultivate and deepen business relationships. They are motivated by having a flexible schedule and expense accounts.
- Conferences: Some people want to make a name for themselves in the industry. They join the local chapter of their professional organisation. They attend evening meetings. They would like to represent your firm at annual conferences. You pick-up the travel and conference expenses.
- Mentoring: Others are born teachers. They succeeded in their career and want to help others do the same. They volunteer their time without any prompting. Setup a mentoring program for junior team members. Let them run it.
- Management: Most people equate partnership with higher income, but some people enjoy the administrative side of running a business. They are good at getting things done through others. Gradually give them management responsibilities.
- Speaking: Some people are born actors. They love getting on stage. Give them the opportunity. This may be organising the annual meeting for the office. They can also be the primary speaker at public facing presentations.
- Time off: People may be good at their jobs but they also enjoy their down time. They may have caught the travel bug. They may be ramblers. Instead of offering more money, can you give them additional vacation days instead?
- Continuing education: We are always learning. Although you might take courses for CPD credits, another team member might want to complete an advanced degree. Being supportive in terms of tuition reimbursement will have great value.
- Flexible hours: We’ve heard “Leave your personal problems at the door when you come to work.” You may have a team member with a seriously ill spouse or an aging parent requiring special care. Emergencies arise. Being accommodating with their work schedule has great value.
- Charity work: Law firms and other professionals occasionally do pro bono work as a means of giving back to the community. Your firm might have a similar policy. Allow your team member to use their professional skills on behalf of a cause they value highly.
- Personal attention: We’ve worked in management environments where performance is everything and people are treated as replaceable parts in a machine. Often money is the major motivator. Getting to know your team members as individuals, standing up for them and being supportive can build a strong bond.
Your business owner clients often struggle with retaining good people. Perhaps you can help them by being a sounding board for new ideas.
About Bryce Sanders
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, Pennsylvania.