Motivating Employees

Sometimes the best solution to morale problems is just to fire all of the unhappy people.

Sometimes the best solution to morale problems is just to fire all of the unhappy people.

Once again, I have been reading questions on Linked In, and came across an interesting corporate culture. The end result of such a culture is well-reflected in the poster shown (courtesy of Despair Inc.).

The question asked how to motivate employees to pursue courses on their own time for use at the workplace when there was no money for training (but the courses were free) and no obvious means of encouraging employees to pursue the training. The author of the question wanted to know of alternatives to giving negative performance reviews at the end of each year.

To me, the fact that the author even considered using negative performance reviews as a means of encouraging behaviour shows a major problem with the corporate culture. First, this is essentially blackmailing your employees to do something. Rather than encourage them to do what is right, you are discouraging them from doing something which they may or may not want to do. The likely outcome from such a means of “encouragement” is either mass rebellion, with all employees refusing to take the training (and now on principle of defying management), or a mass exodus as employees leave to find greener pastures.

Second, performance reviews are held annually, which is not frequent enough to cause anyone to modify their behaviour. Some employees will attend a course the day before their review to avoid the negative repercussions of not attending, and then stop.

To motivate employees to do something, you need to use positive reinforcement (much like trying to encourage children to behave well). Additionally, you need to work as a team, with everyone on the team working toward a common goal (working for the paycheck does not count). Explain to the team why these courses are important. Get them to offer suggestions on how to integrate the content of the courses into the workplace. You need to make the employees WANT to take the courses.