Here are a few of the things you can do to provide your people with the incentive to do well.
Help them achieve more. Given the choice, most people prefer to do outstanding, rather than mediocre, work. Show them how to do that and you will spur them to greater achievement. One key to accomplishment is improving methodology rather than merely working harder. Examples: You can help an engineer increase his design output by training him in the advanced uses of a computer. You can help a salesperson perform maximally by showing him how to spot and cultivate key accounts.
Give them recognition. Over and above monetary reward, what people crave is praise in some form. They need assurances that their efforts are known, valued, appreciated. Sometimes all it takes to satisfy this deep desire is a sincere, “Well done,” preferably delivered in front of their peers. Sometimes something more tangible is required—a business trip that implies trust, inclusion of the individual's name on an honor roll, a letter of congratulations—anything that strokes their egos.
Make their work more interesting. It's a fact of life: Familiarity does breed contempt. That's why one of the great demotivators is plain old boredom. To the degree that you can make a person's work meaningful to him, to that degree you will spur him to realize his own highest potential. When people's work excite them, they come alive; they walk differently, they talk differently, they work differently. If you want your own people to do their jobs with dedication, help them enjoy what they're doing. This may require that you build more decision making into their work—more creativity, more variety, more challenge.
Give them additional responsibility. This doesn't mean simply giving them more work. It means giving them work of greater importance that requires a higher level of knowledge and skill. The amount of additional responsibility will vary with the individual, of course, but if you haven't reconsidered in the last six months or so what your people are being asked to do, it may be time to reassess their workloads.
Help them grow. If any of your people have been in the same job for more than five years, something may be wrong. If they are not promotable, that means they've gained no new knowledge or skills under your management. And since people seldom develop on their own, it means further that you have been remiss in your duty as a supervisor. You ought to be providing help and direction by seeing to it that all your people are exposed to training either inside or outside your organization and making sure that each has an annual program for individual growth.
The Products Finishing Staff regrets to inform its readers that Ted Pollock recently passed away and this will be the final installment of his Management Methods Column. Mr. Pollock has been an excellent addition to the magazine and has always been a favorite among readers. He and his column will be greatly missed.