Motivating through Caring

The January/February 2011 issue of “Sales Power” magazine has an article where I am interviewed on being a “model manager.” The lead-in to the article states that “you can only evolve people one at a time.” This was such a great opportunity for me – to be interviewed by Kim Wiley on this topic. I think in sales, as in many areas of life, we treat people as if they were dollar signs, and not as human beings.

Is it just easier for a company to consider their employees as a “they” instead of as individual people? Admittedly, it takes time on the part of the manager to learn something about each of their staff members, and to understand what it takes to motivate them. The managers who do take the time to do this will be well rewarded with insights into motivating behaviors and often loyalty. Who doesn’t feel good when someone has taken the time to know them and to care about them?

I often liken management to parenting. It would be a luxury to just say, “DO IT!” and expect you will be blindly followed and obeyed. And, in many cases, parents and managers do this and they are followed – but maybe not by loyalists who willingly do what is required. Rather, the person who issues commands about what needs to be done may get what they want, but lose respect and loyalty in the process!

If you are in a position of management or control in an organization, you want to ask yourself what you really want to accomplish. In many companies, the profit line is the only thing that management is looking at. And yet, with all of our advancements in technology and computing, people continue to be the backbone of almost every organization. If they are not motivated and excited about what they do, or at a minimum trained and listened to, they can’t possibly operate at the highest levels of effectiveness for the organization.

It’s an interesting quandary for the manager, because people who feel good about what they do, and are intrinsically motivated to succeed, will often go the extra mile and do more than is requested of them. So a manager that focuses on solely the profit motivation and has no regard for the people is actually causing economic difficulty because they are getting less out of their people than they could if they were more focused on the employees! What does this mean? It means that taking care of the people and having compassion and interest is actually economically beneficial for most companies. Yes, I know – seems counterintuitive, right? If you spend time coddling your staff, you won’t get anything done! But in fact the opposite is true; if you get to know the people who work for you, understand their obstacles and do your best every day to remove those obstacles, you can create a much more well-oiled machine to get to the profit levels you desire.

In my consulting work I am often in a coaching or organizational redesign mode, where I talk to people very intimately about what they deal with on a day-to-day basis. It’s surprising to me how little the people in charge know about what goes on “down in the troops” of their firm. This not knowing can be perilous because in many cases employees have information that the managers really need – but if the manager doesn’t ask for it, or doesn’t send the message that they are open to hear what’s happening, that information will stay locked down in the troops. It may surface at some point as a problem for management, and many, many times I hear management say, “Why didn’t anyone tell me this??” In the “Sales Power” article, Kim states that “you reap what you sow” and I guess it’s a good way to summarize my view on this. Take the time to know your people, to care about what they are dealing with and to address their problems. When you do this, you’ll find that you actually reduce the amount of problems you are dealing with, and you get more – and more effective – behavior out of your staff!