Learning how the company makes it, that is.
In an Ernst & Young LLP survey, 59% of employees said that the best way to motivate them is for managers to show them how their jobs help the company make money.
Most employees have no idea how what they do impacts profitability. Our speeches about the bottom line fall on deaf ears. Efforts to reduce expenses end in frustration. Employees don’t really believe that anything they do (or don’t do) makes a difference.
In The One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard tells the story of a friend who was a frustrated manager. He couldn’t motivate one of his employees no matter what he tried. One day, he saw the employee at a bowling alley. The employee bowled a strike and went wild celebrating. The manager realized that while the employee wasn’t motivated at work, he was clearly motivated in other areas. This led Blanchard to make the following analogy.
If we made the bowling alley reflect how we motivate in the workplace, the pins would all be behind a large curtain so that the bowlers couldn’t see them. The bowlers would roll the ball, it would pass through the curtain, and the sound of pins falling down would be heard. However, because of the curtain, the bowlers would have no idea if they hit two or five or ten pins. What fun is that?
What makes bowling (or video games or just about any sport) fun is that we get immediate feedback on how well we did. We don’t need to wait for a third-party supervisor to pass along the data; we can see it for ourselves! We know right away whether we just made things better or worse. Then, we take that information and use it to inform our next attempt. If we made things better last time, we do more of the same. If we made them worse, we make adjustments.
If you really want motivated employees, show them how their actions translate into dollars. Lift the curtain, and let them see the pins!