Motivating people across cultures: A 2-pronged approach

Main Discussion Post

 

I do not believe that the approach for motivating an employee is universal.  As Adler (2008) mentions there are different cultural values that may dictate motivation.  Most “universal” motivation campaigns have been developed in the United States (2008).  Earley and Erez (1997) mention that each individual has a self-concept that is regulated by enhancement, efficacy, and consistency, which regulate the influence of culture on behavior.  These motives reflect how a person views him or herself in society (1997).  Because we have different personality types and cultural values, whether individualistic or collectivist cultures, there can be no universal truth for motivation.  We can have broad, over-arching principles like the two-factor motivation theory proposed by Herzberg (Adler, 2008).  This principle states that extrinsic and internal factors both equally can be used to motivate employees.  An external factor, like money, might not hold the same motivational value to some as it does to others, whereas performing at high levels and having pride about the company might not be equal as well.  Based on the fact that we are all different and have different cultural backgrounds and values, I do not think it will ever be possible to have a single, narrow approach for motivation.  There are too many factors and variables to consider.

 

References

 

Adler, N. and Gunderson, A. (2008). International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior (5th Ed.). Cincinnati, OH, US: Southwestern.

 

Early, P., and Erez, M. (eds) (1997). New Perspectives on International Industrial /Organizational Psychology. San Francisco, CA, US: Pfeiffer.

How to keep your employees happy and lower your turnover costs

I have explained my job and studies to many people over the last few years. I basically sum it up that I want to help make employees happy at work so they come back the next day. Some people look at me a little cross-eyed like I’m some feelgood hippie that just walks around with sage smoking in an office to ward off evil spirits. Many many many more people’s eyes light up and say something to the effect of “man we could use someone like you.” To the owners and managers out there, listen to your employees that want someone like me to help you help them. It’s not about being a feelgood hippie type. It’s about doing some simple things to set yourself and employees up for success. Just think of all the things you have to do if they get unhappy and leave.

You spend money on the lost productivity of an unsatisfied employee or absent employee. You have to pay to advertise a new position availability if they leave or are fired. You have to train them, which again costs money and lost productivity from your trainer. Background checks and reference checks cost money. The time it takes to recruit and review resumes will have to come from somewhere (another loss in productivity and more money thrown away). Overtime to catch up on all that lost productivity. On top of the unanswered question of how many customers were alienated by an unhappy or overworked employee? These are all costs that can be minimized if you just do things right the first time.

 

1) Treat your employees like they deserve to be treated or like you would want to be treated. It’s the golden rule. Not hard. Let’s move on.

2) Train effectively. If you are going to take the time to train a new employee do it right the first time. Don’t waste your and their time as well as your money doing an ineffective job. By laying out the rules, regulations, expectations, and tools necessary for the new employee to feel comfortable and confident in their ability to do a good job for you. They will always have questions, that’s normal. But the more you can limit the 2nd guessing of themselves and of your company the better off they’ll be, the more confident in your decisions they’ll feel, and the more productive (ie more money they’ll make for you) they’ll be.

3) Be just and fair. I’ve written about this before (http://bit.ly/xOLIhm) but I can’t stress this enough. Everything else is derivative of this concept. Your training is derivative of justice. Promotions are derivative of justice. Bonuses are derivative of justice. Your feedback and employee reviews are derivative of justice. Etc etc. If you have an employee who feels they were passed over for a promotion because they were unjustly treated, the process for selection was bogus, or they weren’t even considered then guess what: They probably won’t work as hard or as long for you anymore. That isn’t to say you have to pander. People can handle being told “no” if it’s done fairly. If you need to take the time to sit down and discuss the decision process with them then it is well worth your time to do that. Which brings me to my last point…

4) Keep communication lines open. As I’ve told several managers at this point, there is no difference in what you say to your employees and your kids, just how you say it. Don’t condescend to your employee, but make sure they know exactly what it is that you want from them. Then give them the freedom to go do it (http://bit.ly/HOYS9f)

 

How to improve your customer service without spending a dime!

I’m sure if you were to ask 10 people what their biggest pet-peeve about shopping is, 11 would tell you it’s a bad customer service experience. Heck, look at most Yelp reviews with a lackluster rating and what do you see? Bad customer service. Whether it’s rude employees, not getting the value for your buck, or incompetence, there are a bunch of simple ways to improve the experience, stop the bleeding and keep those customers coming back to spend some more. In these times, with so many options for places to spend, and not a lot of people who can afford to do so, it doesn’t take much to implode. I worked in the restaurant industry for over 10 years. I prided myself on making sure people could come out and have a good time while I took care of them. If I was having a bad night, their money is still being spent. But these simple tips became very handy when things went awry. And these tips helped those times where things didn’t go right turn into loyal customers.

 

1) LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN! Oh, and LISTEN! Encourage your employees to listen to the grievance and help solve the problem. One of the things I hear people complain about most is dealing with a “know-nothing” employee. This, in my view, comes from employees not being empowered to do anything. If you give the authority to your employees to solve the problem as opposed to running to get a manager the customer will feel as if they are dealing with a competent, ie: smart and helpful, person. This doesn’t mean there are things that can’t go over their head or pay-grade. But encourage the employee to listen on how to solve the problem effectively. When a customer has a problem, they don’t want to explain it to someone who is just looking to run and hide so you can deal with it. It also makes the customer have to explain their issue more than once. I don’t know about you, but when I have to call my cell phone company and explain my issue repeatedly because I keep getting transferred from one person to another I get very annoyed. Typically solutions are simple, whether you just need to comp a meal, or they just need someone to listen to a grievance (sometimes that’s all they want) it doesn’t always need to escalate to the next level. But listen carefully so you can come to a fair resolution together. You can’t solve the problem if you don’t understand what the complaint is. LISTEN!

 

2) Seek out a problem. Yes you heard me (read me?) correctly. If you notice someone who is not happy then ask what you can do to resolve the issue. If a customer is picking through the clothes racks and just not finding anything, ask if there was something online they saw that maybe you can order from another store. If a customer leaves half their food and doesn’t want to box it up, ask if you can get them something else instead (or even just have the chef whip up something and surprise them). You’d be surprised how something like this will win over a customer for life who may not have come back because of a “meh” experience.

 

3). Follow up with them. If you have the opportunity, either get a contact number or email address to make sure there isn’t anything more you can do to get that customer back in the building. If you win them over, just think how many friends they will tell because of their experiences. Conversely, if you don’t win them over, just think how many friends they’ll tell about that. Also think about how many bad experiences from friends you hear about rather than the good ones.

 

4) Get as much feedback as you can from your customers. See where there are weaknesses. See where you missed those opportunities. And this also provides the opportunity to follow up with them to see if you have resolved whatever issues they had. It also gives them the opportunity to tell you what went right! As a manager, I never tired of those customer service experiences. When I got to hear praise about my employees and how wonderful they are.

 

These 4 little things are just the tip of the iceberg in ways to get your customers coming back. But you need to start from here. If things still need some sprucing up, my phone number and email are easy to find…

Have you ever seen a championship team without chemistry?

Continuing the theme of Peyton Manning talk, we’re shifting to chemistry now. As any sports fan knows, the chemistry of a team is very important. It’s one of those buzzwords you hear on ESPN all the time whenever some sort of team controversy pops up, which is all the time. When some player chimes in with some disparaging words for his fellow teammates or coach, “chemistry” is the new word of the day. The thing is, we rarely ever see the ESPN analysts discussing this issue with championship teams do we? And a lot of those championship teams have a core group of players that have been wearing that same uniform for quite a while. Coincidence? I think not. Look at the Patriots run of championships and success. The Colts had a lot of success. The Lakers. The Yankees. The Twins and the A’s in the early part of the decade. It’s not all about money and buying talent. It’s about keeping the same working pieces who can coexist and work well together and functioning like a well-oiled machine.

 

With the Peyton Manning news finally coming to an end (at least until training camp starts) we saw another player who was entangled in his decision end up going back to his old team. Alex Smith. Alex Smith is the starting QB for a team with a core group of players that have been there for quite a while now. They may add a piece or two here and there, but for the most part they have stayed the same. There is a lot to be said for that. When players have played together for a long time, they don’t have to think. They just react. They trust each other to do the right thing, to be where they are supposed to be. They develop a bond and understand how they will react and what can press their respective buttons. Smith’s returning to SF is, I believe, a very important element to the chemistry continuing to build towards a championship.

 

I read an article a few years ago about this same issue with doctors and hospital personnel. This is an area where the entire community where that hospital is benefits from how well they do their job. Do you want a surgeon performing anything risky on you if his or her mind is half-concentrating on whether or not the new nurse knows what they’re doing? No. Of course not. The article essentially stated that hospitals run much more smoothly the longer the employees have worked together. Why should that change for any other industry? Sure you want some fresh ideas every once in a while. But keeping that core chemistry thriving towards the “well-oiled machine” goal of every good company is very important. And, hopefully, for my hometown 49ers, that core chemistry will produce big time next year.