How to Motivate Your Staff and Employees to Do Their Best

By Tom Borg ©2010

Some of your employees, although they know what is expected of them and how to perform, simply do not do it consistently. A vivid example of the above is the typical behavior of cashiers in self-service gas stations. These employees sit behind a bullet-proof window and think that their job is to simply take the customer’s money. They often do this while simultane­ously talking on the phone, chewing gum, or chatting with a fellow employee. That type of behavior is definitely not service-oriented.

The question that must be asked is: Are there valued rewards for performing as expected? Just because employees understand and are able to perform as expected doesn’t mean they will. Your employees need to be continually reinforced for doing things right. The attitude of some business owners and managers is, “They collect a paycheck; that’s all the positive reinforcement they need.” That type of thinking is not only short-sighted, it’s pure ignorance. Your employees need to consistently receive rewards they value.

While it’s true that you can’t really motivate your employees; they have to motivate themselves; there are some things you can do as an owner or manager to create the proper environment for employees to provide their own self-motivation, i.e., to do what is expected of them. To do this, you need to find out what motivates your employees.

In a survey conducted by a national business magazine, it was revealed, once again, that money was not the top motivator for most people between the ages of 16 and 40 years. What the survey found was that aspects like gratifying work, appreciation for a job well done, recognition, and a feeling of independence in the way they performed their job responsibilities were at the top of the list. Money ranked in the middle.

So, how do you find out what specifically motivates your employees? Ask them. Remember, the number one stumbling block to knowing what your employees are thinking and feeling is not the generation gap but the communication gap. Sit down with each of your employees and ask them what they like about their jobs. Find out how they feel about interacting with their customers and how they like to be shown appreciation for a job well done.

Keep in mind that, depending on their viewpoint and life situation, their answers may vary. One month it may be recognition; another month it may be money. Also inquire how they want to be treated when they make a mistake. Once you find out what some of their self-motivators are, make it a point to use them. By doing so, you will be on your way to creating a more customer-oriented team.


Set up a personal meeting with each one of your employees and ask the following questions:

1. What do you like about your job?

2. What do you dislike about your job?

3. What do you like most about dealing with your customers?

4. What do you like least about dealing with your customers?

5. How do you like to be shown appreciation for a job well done?

6. How do you want to be treated when you make a mistake?



Tom Borg is a consultant, trainer and coach. He is president of Tom Borg Consulting LLC. He  works with the managers  and employees of businesses and non-profits in the area of professional development and customer service training. He is the author of  the book/cd  "Making Service Count". He earned his bachelors degree in administration and his masters degree in Educational Leadership  at Eastern Michigan University. You can contact him at:  734-812-...

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