A few weeks ago Susan and I spent the day interviewing 11 employees at Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center in Chaska, MN (see Oak Ridge Part 1 here). We had observed that Oak Ridge had “gotten the formula right on employee motivation” and wanted to probe more to find out how. From our original findings, we highlighted five things that stood out: 1) leadership counts, 2) It is not about the money, 3) It is about the team, 4) Genuine recognition rejuvenates and 5) It is all about appreciating people. I’m taking a different approach this time, looking at it from the 4-Drive Model and seeing how each of the drives showed up in the 11 interviews.
Susan and I just had the wonderful pleasure of spending a day interviewing 11 people at Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center to try to uncover their secret – because they have gotten the formula right on employee motivation. Anyone who has ever stepped into their facility outside of Minneapolis can attest to the customer service mentality that every employee exhibits – from the front desk, to housekeeping, to the chefs, groundskeepers, and even in accounting. There is a definite difference in how the majority of these employees “show up” at their job everyday and how they view and take care of their “guests”. They are truly a company that is doing something right. While we haven’t had time to fully analyze the interviews (we will in the upcoming weeks), there are a few things that I can say definitively:
1. Leadership counts – the one overriding conclusion that hit us in the face was how important leadership is in this process – they need to be present, genuine, and focused on the right things.
2. Its not about the money – I was a little surprise to hear (actually to NOT hear) about bonus plans or contests or other recognition that had a big dollar value. It wasn’t important. It didn’t drive their day-to-day activities or play an integral part in their motivation.
3. It is about the team – teamwork was an overriding theme in all of the interviews that we did. It wasn’t ever about “my job” but instead about serving the customer. If that means that top managers have to change sheets, then that is what happens.
4. Genuine recognition rejuvenates – real, honest recognition that is done on a regular basis, in public, helps reinvigorate and help drive the culture. Knowing that their work is important and recognized keeps people engaged.
5. Its about people – employees were seen as people first. Management spent time getting to know them, getting to understand who they were, spending time finding out about their families and interests. They care and it shows.
Over the next few weeks we will let you know more about our findings and get in depth with some analysis. Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center has been kind enough to give us access to their people and allow us to share our insights with you. There is something to learn here if you are interested in creating a workforce that is motivated and engaged. Stay tuned!
I had a question poised to me in a group that I’m in regarding which is more effective/important, recognition or incentives? It got me to thinking about how we tend to try to simplify things into easily digestible answers (i.e., make the world black and white). It isn’t so simple. In reality, a truly effective motivational program needs to include both. It also needs to include a focus on intrinsic motivators (i.e., the three other aspects of the 4-Drive model: Bonding & Belonging, Challenge & Comprehend, and Define & Defend). When we look at motivation holistically, we have a number of levers that we are able to pull as leaders. The fact of the matter is, there is no one silver bullet. Everyone has a plethora of motivators that drive them everyday.
That being said, it is important to understand what those key motivators are. Asking people is obviously a key component of that, but I’ve found that often what people ask for, isn’t really what motivates them the most. It is important to get beyond the surface to the underlying motivators that people have. For instance, research that I’ve been part of shows that the majority of sales people will ask for cash if given the choice for an incentive reward (roughly 74% of the time), yet, we typically see a larger increase in sales performance for non-cash awards (on average about 15 – 25% better). Because of human nature, we don’t always know what really motivates us or we have been conditioned to respond in a particular manner to these types of questions. The difficulty is being able to identify what those real motivators are.
My belief is that incentive programs have to get more individualistic. That companies need to provide managers with more tools to be able to determine real motivators and set up individual programs for their teams. Of course, this is easier stated than done. The first step however is asking them. The second step is identifying peoples underlying drives. The third aspect is to ask them again after assessing their motivational profile, using probing questions to get at peoples real motivation.
Would love to hear people’s thoughts on this topic. What have you seen in your own business on recognition or incentives? How do you optimize them?
The first drive in the Four Drive Model of Employee Motivation is the drive to Acquire & Achieve. This is typically the drive that most organizations focus on when they are trying to find a lever to influence employee motivation.
However, companies often get too caught up in the financial aspects of this drive (i.e., how much of a raise can we give, what is our targeted incentive/bonus payout, etc…).
The following are three quick tips to help you think about how to impact this drive and increase employee motivation.
1. It’s not just about the money. It is so much more…This drive also includes the drive to achieve. Achievement takes on a number of different forms. Think about this in terms of grades – there is no monetary component to this, yet we are driven to try to get an A. In organizations, recognition is a very powerful motivator because it recognizes individuals or group achievement (kind of like a report card). Organizations can tap into the drive to achieve by focusing on ensuring that recognition is done correctly (e.g., timely, relevant, and appropriate to the effort/result).
Achievement is also about setting realistic goals that can be achieved. Short-term milestones are elements to use to help keep this drive up. One way to think about this is to think about the need to reinforce achievement on at minimum every 5 weeks. If you don’t have a milestones set up that fall within that time frame, you will tend to lose people. Make sure that you celebrate those milestones as well. One thing that we are trying to get better at The Lantern Group is celebrating when a project or milestone is done. We get so caught up in the next project or next event that we don’t take the time to stop and congratulate ourselves on a job well done.
2. Add Some Perks. While we tend to focus on the big items like pay and bonuses with this drive, some of the more powerful levers that we get to pull are smaller “perks” such as office space, titles, parking spots, flexibility to work from home and other things that help satisfy the Achieve drive.
In addition, there are a number of small perks that also tie into the Acquire side of the equation, such as pizza Fridays, movie days, lunch seminars, discounts on classes, days off, foosball or pool in the office, employee of the month/quarter/year… You will notice that a number of these also contribute to the other three drives of Bond & Belong, Challenge & Comprehend, and Define & Defendsee also Four Drive Model
3. Improve your Total Rewards Communication. Too many times we’ve worked with companies that offer fantastic total rewards – not just their base salary, but their benefits, bonus programs, culture and recognition opportunities; however, no one at the company knows about these programs! This is because they are outlined in a legal terms in a five different 50 page HR documents. It is vital that you market what you are providing to people in a way that will capture their attention and convey the big picture.That means that you have to overcome silos within the organization and market your Total Rewards as a comprehensive program that highlights the offerings from across the organization.
Also, make sure that your Total Reward communications are not just a one-time effort at the beginning of the year, but instead a campaign that highlights various aspects of your offering throughout the year and keeps people engaged and charged up.
While the concept behind these ideas is simple, the implementation of them isn’t always as easy. If you need help, please give us a call. We can help you work through the issues and improve your employee’s motivation!