Welcome to this edition of our newsletter. Since the release of our new web site design, many, many new readers have joined us. We extend an especially warm welcome to our new subscribers.
This month, we bring you our popular Questions and Answers (Q & A) format where we tackle your difficult questions. Our first reader asks how we can stop the waste on expensive and ineffective employee incentives designed to drive peak performance. They want to be able to tap into employees' intrinsic motivations but don't know where to start.
Our second question deals with another kind of waste in our organizations -the waste we see from training programs that don't translate to changed employee behaviors on the job. This reader wants to know just how much waste we should tolerate. Where should we set the bar? Read on. You just may be surprised by the answers.
Did you know that our expert team specialise in a range of consulting, coaching and training areas? Meet this month's expert, Geoff Hopkins, below and find out what he is up to.
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How Can We Tap Into Employees' Intrinsic Motivation?
Extrinsic motivation does not seem to work very effectively for our employees. Financial bonuses are very expensive and onerous to manage. How can we create a work environment in which people want to give without inducements?
Frederick Herzberg's studies starting in the 1950s were the first to demonstrate that pay can only go so far in motivating workers. His and many later studies show that beyond a certain minimum point money is not a motivator. And where it is designed to motivate the individual employee, the results are not always in the best long-term interests of the organization. The GFC is a recent and calamitous testament to the notion that more money sometimes means worse performance.
Pay for Performance schemes do work in limited situations. (See Do Pay for Performance Schemes Motivate Employees?) However, the billions of dollars annually that get pumped into over-inflated bonuses may be better spent on building systems that motivate employees from within. How do we do that? Here are the three basic ingredients to the intrinsic motivation cake.
Ensure that each employee is matched to the right job
This is harder to achieve for very large organizations with hundreds if not thousands of employees. However, every organization needs to examine its recruitment and promotion practices to make sure that the prospective employee or candidate for promotion will be doing work for which they have an intrinsic interest. Having the right skill set is not enough. Exemplary skills are of not much use if the employee has little interest in applying them to the task at hand.
Set meaningful and challenging goals
Many studies have shown the usefulness of goal-setting for achieving high performance. When employees know exactly what they are aiming for, it heightens their potential and unleashes their power. Help each and every employee work out goals that have some personal significance to them and at the same time assists the organization get to where it needs to be.
Show employees the big picture
We all work harder when we see that what we are doing counts towards some noble purpose. Employees want to believe that what they do is important and contributes to some higher goal. Discuss with each employee how what they do adds to the organization's mission. If you can't do that, then seriously ask yourself why that employee is there.
Engage in a regular conversation with each employee
Make time with each employee at least fortnightly to engage with them on a personal level. Discuss the three important subjects mentioned above. Also, employees want to know how they are going. Are they achieving their goals? What are they doing well? What do they need to do differently? Providing honest and timely performance feedback is critical to developing and maintaining intrinsic motivation. And we all want to be treated as individuals, with our own personalities and interests. Engaging with your employees one-on-one sends an important signal that they do matter.
Many managers today are still like McGregor's Theory X manager, believing that employees are inherently lazy and need a carrot and stick to work. Theory Y managers on the other hand act on the belief that most employees want to do a good job and enjoy work. They ascribe to the above four principles for tapping into the intrinsic motivation of workers. It takes little cost and effort to create an environment in which people can thrive. But it takes a lot of heart.
Find out more about releasing the intrinsic motivations of your employees. Get Jennifer McCoy's practical guide, 2 Way Feedback, today. This compact e-book is packed with strategies for building trust and creating a high performance culture in your workplace. Used successfully by business owners, team leaders and managers, use it at all levels of your organization. Find out more about 2 Way Feedback and download the free introductory chapter today.
How High Should We Aim in Setting a Learning Transfer Target?
Some of our managers complain that much of our training is useless. I read that when it comes to getting employees to apply the skills they learned to their jobs, only about 15% to 30% of skills are used. How high should we aim in our organization? Is getting 100% application realistic?
Getting learning to transfer from the training room to the job remains the biggest challenge training professionals face today. Although 100% learning transfer is an admirable aim, complete transfer is nigh impossible to achieve. The exception here is perhaps for the simplest of learning situations in the most engaged work environments.
Organizations are made up of real people in real, imperfect settings. What should your organization aim for then? That depends on where your organization is currently placed. If your organization is experiencing, say, an average 10% transfer rate, there is little point in setting a target of 90% by end of year. The point here is to set a target that is achievable. In this case, it may be more prudent to set a stretch target of, say, 50% by end of year.
Think about setting a different target for different kinds of program. Programs that require the application of technical skills only lend themselves more easily to learning transfer. On the other hand, programs that aim to change interpersonal and managerial behaviors are more difficult for participants to apply the learning.
If your organization is experiencing a very low transfer rate now, then it is most likely having issues around poor program design, sloppy stakeholder management, inappropriate reward systems, or a combination of all of these. Consider how long it will take to improve these underlying practices before setting a target. The good news is that by focusing on learning transfer and setting a target, you are on the right track to improving these critical practices.
Finally, consider the politics of your organization? How will setting a target be viewed by your key stakeholders? Will the target appear to them presumptive or confrontational? How can you adjust the target to keep onside the people whose support you need? In any case, with a well-designed program with plenty of support back on the job, 90% transfer is achievable.
Are you struggling to make the most of your training budget? Do you want to minimize waste whilst maximizing effectiveness? Then check out our comprehensive high impact training guide. Learn proven strategies and techniques for finding performance roadblocks, aligning training to real needs, developing training partnerships, engaging learners and maximizing learning transfer. Find out more about From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance and download the free introductory chapter today.
Meet Our Expert of the Month - Geoff Hopkins
Have you met our team of expert consultants, coaches and trainers? This month we proudly feature Geoff Hopkins. Geoff has been a leadership coach, facilitator and change consultant to leaders in organizations for nearly three decades. He is a strong advocate of measuring the 'before' and 'after' to get a dynamic sense of what is happening through his involvement.
Geoff explains his approach, "Today, leaders and teams are facing change that is happening more rapidly than ever before. Globalization has added to the fast pace. We help our clients to be in the 25% of change programs attempted that actually succeed. It's not the quality of the strategy that makes the difference; it's the appreciation of the 'human dimension'; people are individuals, with different responses to change." He also delivers, in partnership with Jill Nicholson, a highly successful program called The Change Leader. They are currently facilitating sessions to a major organization undergoing significant change in 2012. Contact us today find out more about the program or how Geoff Hopkins can help you.
Visit our web site at www.businessperform.com for lots of expert guidance and practical tools designed to help you get ahead of your competition. Also, be sure to pass this newsletter on to friends and colleagues who want to stay up with what's on. From all of us here on the Business Performance team, we wish you a productive month and look forward to communicating with you again soon.
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