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Dear Workforce How Do We Use Performance Tools to Keep Employees Motivated

December 1, 2006
Related Topics: Career Development, Employee Career Development
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Dear Motivation Skeptic:

This is a great question that highlights the need for performance management systems to go beyond merely setting objectives and conducting periodic reviews. Although these are important steps that help identify top performers, the real power of performance management lies in the daily ongoing coaching and feedback that should take place as well. It is here that your leaders connect with their people and build a motivating work environment.

Motivation of employees is built around three factors:

  • Do employees have focused work--is there direction, support and accountability for what they do?

  • Employee value--are they growing and viewed as unique, and do they have a sense of ownership?

  • Is their work environment harmonious and collaborative?

  • These factors nearly always outweigh compensation.

So how do you create such motivation? Certainly one way is using your performance management system as an ongoing coaching process for providing focused work. Make sure leaders are guiding and supporting associates toward meeting objectives (not just at the annual review). Adjust objectives when they no longer fit the direction of the business or the person so that accountabilities are relevant.

There are many ways to recognize, value and create a collaborative workplace. They include recognizing individual and team accomplishments, spotlighting collaboration, creating team ground rules based on respect and creativity, breaking down silos, rotating assignments, creating and following through on personal development plans, being honest, asking for feedback and living up to those company values.

There is no one right answer, however, as different companies have different cultures and constraints. But the people who know best are your own. Brainstorm with them about innovations that will work in your organization. A key tactic for retention is for leaders to ask individuals what they like and don’t like about their jobs and the company. Tell people you want them to stay. You may not be able to address all the concerns and ideas you receive, but knowing you care works wonders. And you will find that one size does not fit all. Managers need to create environments that motivate a diverse workforce. Gimmicks won’t work, but good leadership will.

Perhaps the single greatest thing you can do is to grow leaders who are great coaches and listeners, and who use those skills at every opportunity. Although this may not seem like an innovative strategy, it will be more unique than you think.

SOURCE: Jeff Eilertsen, Development Dimensions International, Pittsburgh, February 27, 2006.

LEARN MORE: Another Dear Workforce article discusses the linkage between employee performance and compensation. Another discusses the challenge of moving from a paternal culture to one that relies on performance measurement.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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