Sunday, 9 September 2012

Workplace productivity and staff management – personal motivation

Workplace productivity and staff management – personal motivation
For anybody in middle management, it is exceptionally difficult to balance the need for productivity against the need for personal development and in essence, humanity. What I mean by this is that in the pursuit of deadlines and outputs we often tend to neglect the psyche of the people we rely on for these results. I am talking about your production team and the fact that they are, in the words of The Killers, only human after all!

To hear hugely successful people such as Jason Fried, founder and CEO of 37signals, echo these sentiments makes me realise that perhaps I am onto a good thing here. But herein lies the problem; as middle-management you are like an elevator stuck between two floors. Above you are the top and senior managers who are interested in sales, revenues, profits and long-term gains whereas on the floor below you are the staff and colleagues upon whom you really so heavily for the company’s outputs. Your role is to translate the vision of senior management into tangible processes so that the work is completed to your customer’s (both internal and external) satisfaction.

Unfortunately what senior management does not understand is that two floors below them they have a workforce made up of varying and unique personalities. Each of these personalities requires motivation and in this day and age, dare I say it, a little understanding too. What the above article got me thinking is this: do we ever really understand our staff? This is middle managements toughest task. 

A really good example of this (I say this tongue-in-cheek) was the year 2000 Hollywood Blockbuster called What Women Want that starred Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. In the film Gibson gets to “hear” the thoughts of women. This hilarious comedy featured a scene where the mail room lady, who is severely depressed, walks around thinking that no-one notices her and will not miss her if she does not pitch for work. The only person that recognises her absence is Mel’s character and fearing that she may be planning suicide he finds her and confronts her. To cut a long story short all that she ever wanted from her place of work was to be noticed and recognised for her contributions. 

Isn’t this the same for most people? We want to be noticed and recognised and where possible, understood. This is the fundamental skill and management tool that middle and senior management in any company need to develop and utilise. If you understand what makes your staff members tick then you have a far better chance at using these personal motivation factors to your advantage as a company. 

Times are really tough in any industry and as hard as they are for the business think about your staff members that are suffering just the same. This is really not the time to push your staff members and cause burn out, this is the ideal time for you as a business to motivate your staff and get their buy-in and co-operation. Do not alienate your staff members – draw them closer. You might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Remember – Diamonds are formed under great pressure!

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