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Want To Motivate Employees? Here Are Three Tips for Uncovering What Really Turns Them On 
by JoAnna Brandi


I've traveled all over the country to teach people from all over the world about customer care, customer loyalty and workplace happiness. It's given me a thorough understanding of the pain points that businesses face each day, and one big challenge for so many is motivation.

It's tough to motivate employees to consistently create the kinds of positive customer experiences that lead to customer loyalty. It's like customer care; you can't "mandate" motivation any more than you can "mandate" that frontline employees feel genuine care for your customers. And the challenge can never be fully resolved if managers don't learn more about what makes their employees tick.

The bottom line: One size does not fit all when it comes to motivating all of your customer-facing employees. Different people are motivated by different things, and you should never assume you know what those things are.

Motivation is directly linked to what an employee values. Uncover what they value and how they perceive the world and you'll have the key to what it takes to motivate them to be and do their best, to go above and beyond to build trusting and loyal customer relationships! Today, more than ever, creating happy, engaged and willing-to-say-great-things-about-you-customers is key to long term profitability.

Put these three action steps to work and then incorporate what you learn into your motivation initiatives:

  1. Learn how to do the multigenerational dance.

    Today's workforce is comprised of four distinct generations, each one having very specific needs and desires. While the WWII generation typically responds to authority, Gen X is self-reliant and tends to seek work/life balance. Meanwhile, Boomers tend to look for meaning in the ways they make a living while the youngest generation, Gen Y, is looking to be recognized for their efforts. Though these generalizations aren't cut in stone, they're a great starting point for beginning to understand what your staff members really want. Our belief systems are almost completely formed by the time we are 14 years old. Understanding a little about what was going on in the early years of each generation really helps to understand their world view.

  2. Money isn't everything.

    Be mindful that when it comes to motivating employees, money isn't the be all and end all. Want proof? My friend and colleague Mel Kleiman (the world's leading authority on recruiting, selecting and retaining the best hourly employees.) offers this simple test: Write down four words – money, opportunity (growth and challenge), recognition and life style. Rank them one through four in the order of importance. People are always surprised to learn that nine out of ten people do not put money in the number one slot. Be sure to share this test with your team as well and to encourage people to share their results.

  3. Motivation is both an inside-out and an outside-in proposition.

    Provide your employees with a balance of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Intrinsic motivation comes from within an individual while extrinsic, as the name implies, is being motivated from outside oneself by someone or something else. Most managers rely solely on the latter using money and/special privileges, thank you notes, pizza parties and the like. The problem: These can lose their power over time.

    To inspire intrinsic motivation, look for opportunities to get to know your employees and find out their individual goals, values and strengths. Make it your habit to notice, appreciate and build on them. Understand that everyone has their own individual combination of "motivators." When you find the right combo you unlock the passion inside.

    Would they like more opportunities for growth and challenge? Recognition in the company newsletter or in a memo to your boss? A chance to collaborate with others on a creative project? Telecommuting so they can spend more time with their kids? Prestige? Independence? A chance to teach others? Paying attention to ordinary conversations can reveal this extraordinary information. Scheduling a little one-on-one time with each employee every few months to tell them what they are doing right will put this information into a useful context for delivering feedback that will be appreciated.

By putting these tips into action, you'll be off to an excellent start in "creating an environment where your employees feel good about themselves in your presence, and are inspired to perform at their best."


The Author

JoAnna Brandi

JoAnna Brandi is the Publisher of the Customer Care Coach® leadership program. She is the author of three books: "Winning at Customer Retention, 101 Ways to Keep 'em Happy, Keep 'em Loyal, and Keep 'em Coming Back" "Building Customer Loyalty - 21 Essential Elements in ACTION" and "54 Ways to stay Positive in a Changing, Challenging and Sometimes Negative World" JoAnna is an accomplished public speaker and a contributing author to numerous business publications. Her work in customer loyalty has been cited in Fortune Magazine, Sales and Marketing Magazine, The Executive Report on Customer Retention, US Banker, the Retail Advantage, The Kiplinger Letter, The Competitive Advantage and dozens of others.

You can subscribe to her bi-weekly Customer Care Tip for free and find more of her work at and .

Many more articles in The Customer Care Coach and Motivation & Retention in The CEO Refresher Archives
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Copyright 2007 by JoAnna Brandi. All rights reserved.

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