Employees have been beaten down quite a bit over the past couple of decades – Downsizing, rightsizing, offshoring, etc. They have been asked to work more, while salary increases have been sparse. Joe and Wanda, how do you get employees to do that little extra – take on that additional project for instance?
Joe Kerr: Sounds like trouble in namby-pamby paradise to me! Listen, these saps are lucky to have jobs, and I let them know it. “Do the job or you’re out. There are plenty that would love to have the opportunity to work for me. If you doubt that, let’s do a test.” Usually I don’t get any takers. Now that’s motivation.
Wanda B. Goode: It is not easy. I find even some good workers have a lot of resentment toward their employers and are reluctant to do anything extra to help their company, even if it benefits them. I see it with training for example. If the company doesn’t pay for it, they won’t go out on their own to get it. They’d prefer to stew over the fact that the company is cheap and won’t pay for training. Meanwhile their market value decreases.
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to your question. There is no quick fix. A relationship of trust must be built through ongoing open communications, honoring of commitments, servant leadership, etc. Once there is trust, it is a lot easier to convince team members that an assignment is in their best interest to complete. When there is trust, it is also easier to transfer ownership to them. Until then, there probably won’t be many anxiously volunteering to go above and beyond.
For an interesting approach to motivation, check out this post.