The old rules of motivation are being broken every day. The days of punishing employees for not meeting their quotas, or reprimanding them when they make mistakes on the job, are long gone. These antiquated tactics no longer work, and it is time to start using more modern techniques that will motivate your team members to be happier and more productive. In this blog post, we’ll explore the new rules of motivation so you can increase safety, productivity, and happiness in the workplace!
Many believe that if you reward good behavior, it will encourage more of the same type of behavior in the future. Punishment, on the other hand, is used to stop a bad behavior that you do not want to be repeated. Consider what psychologists call ‘instrumental learning.’ Meaning people learn from their mistakes by understanding how much effort goes into achieving an outcome or goal – they know which strategies work best for them based on trial and error.
How do you encourage the behaviors that will bring about better results in your business?
-Start by recognizing and rewarding employees for their achievements without waiting for deadlines or goals to be reached. The more people are encouraged, the more likely they’ll want to continue making progress. It’s also essential not only to recognize what someone has done well but areas that need improvement.
-Next, make sure to measure and reward desired behaviors. For example, if you want your staff to be more engaged with customers on the phone, then give them metrics they can track and review – like how many times per day they say ‘thanks for holding!’
-Then, encourage employees by providing recognition in a meaningful way or when appropriate to a specific person. Credit should be personalized and respectful, not something generic like ‘congratulations’ or ‘you’re doing an excellent job.’
-Helping employees understand the company’s goal is crucial to success. Employees who are more engaged with their work will have better psychological well-being. They’ll also enjoy working for your business because they feel valued by you as management, which has led to higher retention rates in many studies
-The last step: encourage individual creativity! Offer employees resources that can help them grow professionally and personally while being creative – whether through books, conferences, courses from other companies if yours doesn’t offer any…or simply letting them know when they come up with an idea on improving the team or project.
Sometimes organizations don’t realize they’re resorting to punishment until problems start brewing. When an employee (or our kid) is unwilling to engage in desired behaviors, we can easily fall victim of a vicious cycle of trying harder and getting more frustrated. Naturally, frustration can lead to feeling the need to punish. But is punishing an employee that bad?
The research on punishments is detailed: they don’t work. It can make people perform worse than when there was no punishment at all!
- It’s also important to remember how people react differs when being punished- some will learn from the experience, others may resent you for it. And many employees–especially those with mental health conditions or who have experienced trauma–will be scared off.
So, how does a manager correct negative behavior from employees without resorting to punishment?
After all, you can’t fix a problem if you don’t realize there’s one.
Instead of punishing, communicate the “what” you want (behavior and outcome) and “why” you want it (the purpose behind it). Making your employee know that they are undervalued and making them feel disrespected is a big mistake. Instead, bring employees up-to-date on what is going on, their mistakes, and how they can improve.
- Organizations that want to improve safety, productivity, and happiness in their workplace are what’s called “proactive management.” That means leaders should anticipate problems before they happen so that employees are more engaged.
- Proactively managing an organization involves using effective coaching techniques like giving feedback, being a supportive coach instead of an evaluator, setting goals collaboratively with the employee, and celebrating success together. These proactive behaviors are proven again and again to help increase motivation while decreasing turnover rates.
The best way to help employees motivated rather than punished? Build relationships with them! Motivation comes from our need for connection, recognition, autonomy, and growth opportunities as human beings. It’s crucial that each person feels valued by their employer just like they do at home or school. Helping your employees feel connected is vital when it comes to safety because trust builds up over time so you can speak openly about possible problems without fear of punishment.
Managers and supervisors should encourage employees to be creative in their responses when things go wrong by using the STAR technique:
* Situation or problem statement – What happened? Who was involved, what were you doing at the time? How did it happen/what led up to this incident? Where were you located (in terms of your department)? What “tools” do you have available to solve the problem?
- Task completion summary – Did we complete our task successfully, unsuccessfully, partially successful, or not attempted yet? If unsuccessful or not tried yet, what prevented us from succeeding with our mission, and how can that be fixed moving forward for future tasks related to this one? If completed successfully and we’re happy with how it turned out, what contributed to the outcome?
- Action – Who did what and when? Now let’s talk about
Punishments to never use in the workplace:
- Fining an employee for being late or leaving early without notice (i.e., pay cuts)
- Removing benefits from an employee who had improperly taken them before they were eligible such as sick days or vacation time
- Embarrass employees publicly at meetings by making them stand up and apologize for their group/department mistakes.
- Expecting more than one hour of unpaid overtime each day can lead to burnout after long periods leading to reduced morale and increased turnover rate.
- Taking away opportunities from employees who have been responsible and productive in the past (i.e., “I rewarded you for your work, now I’m punishing you because of it.”)
- Punishing an employee for not following regulation or policy that is unrealistic to enforce such as no cell phone use during work hours when most people are on their phones anyway.”
What about the age-old “Leave Alone Zap System”?
“It’s the default method of management for every supervisor on the planet,” says the author of Green Beans & Ice Cream, Bill Sims. “When people do things right, we leave them alone and say nothing. When they screw up, we zap them.”
According to Sims, this management-by-fear method is not a winning strategy in today’s workforce. It only works short-term before employees become resentful or apathetic as their motivation dwindles from daily criticism and fear tactics used with no positive reinforcement plan implemented afterward.
The author disagrees with how some supervisors use punishment rather than reward when dealing with staff who have done something wrong or made mistakes to prevent reoccurrence, often leading an employee down a slippery slope towards disengagement and resentment, a potential exit from the company.
Instead, he advocates for using positive reinforcement techniques like praise and recognition and performance-related rewards to raise engagement levels in employees. They feel valued by their superiors while also motivating them towards future success when those same traits are practiced internally among peers.
There are four new rules for motivating employees. They are:
– Show them you care about them as an individual, the person who does the work. The employee needs to know how he or she is helping make a difference in your company’s success and society. This means more than just being valued—it also requires developing a trusting relationship.
– Show appreciation for what they do every day. Let them know how much you value the little things and the big ones, and don’t just say it—show that you care with meaningful praise and acknowledgment. The more we feel valued at work, the less likely we are to quit or become disengaged in our jobs.
– Give feedback on employee performance so they can improve where necessary. It sounds obvious, but people often think they’re doing fine when there’s room to grow (or even worse: they’ve plateaued). Feedback is invaluable because without knowing if improvements need to be made, employees will never make them happen; this means no growth, which leads to stagnation. It holds people accountable for their actions and decisions and has the patience to accept that they will make mistakes while trying new things. You must be understanding when it comes to errors made on their part because we are only human, and all humans mess up at some point in time regardless of who they are or where they work.
Sometimes, we all need a break from our daily grind. If you find that your employee struggles to keep up with their duties, be patient before making any judgment and remember they’re still one of the team members working hard for success!
Do you know what it feels like when you’re about to reach burnout? You just want an escape – even if only temporary- so take care not to rush into judgments or think too critically about employees looking for time off. And as we know, people don’t usually quit if they feel appreciated by management, so go easy.
Every company’s goal is to maximize productivity and create a positive work environment. It can be difficult for some managers or executives, though, especially when motivating employees.
The truth of the matter is that punishing or threatening an employee doesn’t always lead them in the right direction–it can sometimes push them away. It seems counter-intuitive at first, but punishment does not help people do better; instead, they’re more likely to give up and disengage from their jobs altogether.
If you want your workplace culture to thrive and grow–punishments won’t cut it! What will? Motivational speakers are put to work by organizations looking for ways to motivate their workforce by addressing specific topics like leadership skillsets, overcoming adversity, and finding joy in their work. These presentations aren’t designed to be motivational–instead, they’re meant to inspire! Bill Sims has been recognized nationally for his expertise on employee motivation, engagement, leadership development, and performance management strategies with Fortune 500 companies like IBM, Cigna Health Care Corporation, GEICO Insurance Company, among many others. Book him today!
Employees want recognition and validation that what they do matters; by giving them a sense of self-worth, you’ll find it much easier to motivate them in the long run!