How to Motivate Your Staff and Increase Sales

“I do not try to dance better than

If only your staff were so well self-motivated!

But, most employees seem to fall under others’ influence for motivation – positive or negative. Why? Because management’s folly is to expect everyone to excel at everything – and de-motivating. Having unrealistic expectations of your staff will sabotage your business. A happy, highly motivated staff can outperform even the best trained, yet unmotivated, staff.

You hired well, but …

Didn’t you hire based on the energy you seek to help grow your business? You may have also expected the new hires’ energy might re-light the fires under your existing staff. And then,  strangely, the new hires soon fall into the same patterns and low morale of your existing staff. What happened?

Mirror, Mirror

Perhaps it’s time to look in the mirror for the source of the decline in morale. Traditional management styles can do a nasty little job of robbing employees of their personal motivation. If you are falling back on old, authoritarian styles of leadership, then perhaps you aren’t leading, but are commanding. When your staff learns that it’s your way or no way, they are less willing to think or act on their own. They eventually may stop challenging themselves to do their personal best as well when it is repeatedly unrewarded.

Time for a management mind-shift?

Studies have proven over and over that performance increases at a far better rate through positive reinforcement of desirable behavior than negative reinforcement (criticism or punishment) of undesirable behavior. The more positive they feel about themselves, the better their performance, the better they do, the better for your business, and so on. It’s difficult to do well when criticism is at every corner – whether well-meant or not.

Get started today!

  • Seek out their positive points
  • Compliment them when they do well
  • Point out their initiative
  • Critique via discussion and not instruction or lecturing
  • Ask for feedback and creative thinking and not always presenting only your own ideas and philosophies of business.

One person’s weakness is another person’s strength

Remember why you hired them! Revisit your hiring notes if necessary – their strengths should be recognized and capitalized upon. And if they have annoying weaknesses, weigh them against their strengths.

For example, if someone is a highly productive sales person, but consistently fails in paperwork, learn to pick your battles. If necessary, pick someone who is great at paperwork to do paperwork! At any rate, the paperwork person is most likely not your best salesperson and would serve you best focusing on handling all the paperwork for all your salespeople. See how this works? Don’t spread your talent where it is not productive.

A positive atmosphere is contagious and automatically translates into higher sales and more satisfied customers.

Note: occasionally my blogs address sales, customer service, and operations, because sales and marketing are not mutually exclusive.

Bosses Beware of Employee Flight in 2011

take this job and shove it.
Image by Divine Harvester via Flickr

Unemployment sucks, but for those still working, sometimes the remaining jobs suck even more.

Bosses! Own up and Beware!

If you are one of the Employers out there who are taking crude advantage of your remaining employees after layoffs, beware of the tide that is about to turn.

The economy is showing more secure signs of recovery and there are more employment options opening up.

Many reports are surfacing that predict 2011 will begin a mass exodus of employees looking for a better job. Better start realizing that when conditions are bad, your people will only stay loyal as long as they see no other alternative.

A recent survey reveals 84 percent of U.S. employees plan to look for new jobs in 2011 – up from 60 percent a year ago. Only 5 percent want to stay at their current position.

Don’t wait until they start leaving…

So, those of you budget obsessed employers out there – just how long do you think your remaining employees will put up with the heavier workload, budget cuts, cancelled raises, lousy morale and fear of more layoffs and cutbacks? Should they really be “thankful just to have a job?” Added workloads, extended hours, postponed or eliminated raises and bonuses, and more – not a pretty picture for most employees.

Many who have seen their co-workers laid off have already updated and posted new résumés anonymously on the job boards. They have vowed to be better prepared in case they too are laid off. They are networking – getting the word out they are available if something better comes along. They are tired of bad working conditions no matter how loyal they may have been in the past.

So, what should you do?

Decide the value of those whom you still are employing.
Are you willing to take the chance they will leave? Are you so sure they are still happy enough to stay? Are they going to stay content to keep hearing your excuse that “times are tough for all of us?” Oh, Please!

Evaluate the results of your cutbacks
Be realistic. Take a long look at the results of your budget cuts. Did they achieve the desired results or have you created new problems? Just making the cuts does not guarantee better cash flow. If you didn’t plan proactively for the resulting effects, you may have caused more problems with increased error rates, lower productivity and higher customer dissatisfaction.

Boost Morale!
If you can’t afford raises or hiring on more help again to lighten the workload, find other ways to show them you aren’t taking them for granted. Recognize their extra efforts with praise and small favors until you can afford more. If you are avoiding them because you know they are unhappy, you are only making matters worse!

Tension is at an all time high for fear of more layoffs. They have a right to know what is happening. Share your profit margins and expenses. Include them in decisions to cut costs. Hear their concerns. If they feel they had a part in some of the decisions, they may feel more connected to the business rather than shut out and worried about future “surprises.”

And listen closely to see if they are singing this song …

(or posting on twitter or facebook!)

Would You Want to Work for YOU?

Interview Day
Image by Subspace via Flickr

Small businesses are slowly beginning to hire again… If you are one of the fortunate, you must be excited at the prospect of being able to hire from the glut of qualified applicants. But remember, while you are interviewing prospective employees, they are also interviewing you!

There is a wonderful surplus of well qualified potential employees out there who recognize the value of a good job. Don’t risk losing a chance at a good hire.

Before you start the interview process, re-evaluate and rethink your pay / benefits package. Is it attractive? Is it competitive? Will it help ensure loyalty? Wages are not the only inducement to choosing employment.

Prospective employees are interviewing you, too:

  • the environment – is your place of business neat and orderly? A pleasant place to come to work each day? – that includes the backroom!
  • Is the existing staff cheerful and engaging, or do they look haggard and overworked, indifferent… how about their grooming?
  • Are customers being properly served? You can tell how well a business is run by the customers’ attitude.

Take the time to go outside and come back in – take an outsider’s look at your business.  Just like curb appeal on a house for sale, first impressions mean a lot.

It takes more than setting up an appointment to set up a good interview.

Make sure you arrange to have an uninterrupted interview (outside of your business if necessary), so that you can absorb everything and stay focused on the entire process. If you are distracted by your business, you may be missing subtle clues from your interviewee that could be deciding factors in your hiring decision.

Have a well thought out list of questions. Most standard questions are a matter of rote for prospects. You want to have a sense of their real self. Have some “outside of the box” questions that are unique to your business needs. Come up with best / worse case scenario questions and elicit as much conversation from the potential hire as possible – in other words – keep from doing all the talking. When you aren’t prepared with the right questions, you tend to do all the talking and then you learn little to nothing about the candidate.

And don’t forget – it is easier now more than ever to do a background check. Use your search engines – Google or Bing the candidate – it’s very revealing. And don’t forget to check Facebook for your candidate. And when someone “Googles” you – are they seeing the real you? When’s the last time you did a search on yourself and your business?

This is one of the most important business decisions you make – make the most of it with good preparation. Some successful entrepreneurs offer their tips for good hiring in the following video…