Your role as the owner of a small professional practice is to your team choose to work harder, you have two options:

  1. Shout, rant and make their life a misery
  2. Motivate them to want to work harder

Unless you can add another?Motivation and getting your staff to work harder

There are times when I’ve needed to push my teams quite hard, I know it can work – but only ever in the short term. So I’d only do it where really needed.

The rest of the time it’s down to them to work hard; you help them but you can’t actually make them work hard – so your role as a leader is motivation. It’s a bit like having a child who is studying for their “A-levels”, you can see why it’s important, you can’t make them do it and that can be really frustrating (I know, I’ve been there – although he did really well and got a good Law Degree).

This article is based around some discussions I’ve recently had with partners in different firms  about motivation, “the bonus” and other rewards.

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Effort, Performance and Reward.

There may be several reasons why somebody would choose to work hard, but I wanted to pick on one factor – rewards. Rewards may, of course, take many forms – not just money!

The owner of one firm got good results by offering good bonuses/ rewards, contingent upon certain targets being met. Another was getting very little response. What kind of results have you had?Money and motivation

Motivation and Victor Vroom

Victor Vroom has written books on motivation and his primary research was on the expectancy theory of motivation. I explained the following three steps from Vroom’s theory of motivation to both of the partners I was chatting to; they suddenly went “Aha, that makes sense”. Like so many things that make sense, we often don’t think of them!

3 essential steps to helping with motivation

  1. Expectancy: Effort will lead to performance. If the person doesn’t believe that working harder and putting in effort will improve performance, they’ll stop doing it. This was the problem at the first firm; they had adjusted the system and process, so that harder work was not producing results– because nobody really understood the new process! No matter how big the reward, they couldn’t see how to improve their performance – result, no improvement.
  2. Instrumentality: Instrumentality is the belief that a person will receive a reward if the performance expectation is met. I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked in firms where I’ve not believed in their intention to pay the bonus – result I don’t believe it and don’t strive for it.
  3. Valence: The value the individual places on the rewards. This is where it gets interesting. I’ve never really been “geed up” by large bonus offers, as I am (generally speaking) not motivated by money. How about you? One firm I know all go on a joint skiing trip each year, if the performance target is met. It’s a young firm and they are all keen skiers, this works really well.Motivation and holidays

This makes sense to me , it’s also explains the time when rewards haven’t worked. Where performance has been properly linked to reward it has produced better performance. There are, of course, other things you need to do when you want your team to do more (clicking here will give you a great example) – but rewards without these steps don’t work well!

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What would motivate your team and how can you link it to performance?

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Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access

Huskies Photo used under creative commons licence. For more information, click here.