AT A RESTAURANT this past week I met a crew
of workers having lunch with their boss. He asked
me, “How do I motivate this crew to work harder?”
I told him, “A good start is what you are doing—
feed them.” People always work harder when they
are not hungry.
However, the answer is much deeper.
Managers think that people in different industries, different wage classes and different age
groups are motivated differently. The truth is,
fundamentally, they are not.
Workers want to feel valued and appreciated.
It is as simple as that.
Extensive research on this topic includes
a study completed at Wichita State University.
It reported that employees rated a manager’s
thanks as the most motivational incentive of all.
Unfortunately, more than ;; per cent of employees say they rarely receive a personal thank-you.
When managers are asked why they don’t
offer personal thanks, a typical response is “I’m
not complaining, so they should know I appreciate
them.” That is like if your spouse said, “You don’t
tell me you love me anymore,” and you responded
with “I said it the day we were married; if anything
changes, I will let you know.”
Many people underestimate the importance
of spontaneous recognition. However, employee
appreciation, whether in a large corporation
or a small business, works magic. Employees
often tell me how much they value personalized
recognition. Unfortunately, even though it is a
key element to retention and productivity, it is
deficient in most organizations.
Every employee is hungry for acknowledgement, which is the best way to keep them engaged.
Employees who get personal appreciation go that
extra mile, are more productive, show greater
loyalty and are more eager to contribute.
Employee recognition is a powerful tool to
create a culture of engagement. The best part?
It doesn’t cost anything! C
BY GORD WOODWARD
BUSY ALL THE time but not making much
money? There may be a simple solution:
Fire some of your customers.
“It sounds odd, but sometimes the best
thing you can do for you—and your cli-
ent—is to encourage them to go to your
competitors,” says Costco member Andrea
Coutu, Vancouver-based author of the
ConsultantJournal.com blog. “A client who
costs you time, money and energy is not a
If it seems like a drastic move, consider
how the Pareto principle (also known as the
;;/;; rule) may be playing out for you. The
rule suggests that the average business gets
roughly ;; per cent of its sales from approx-
imately ;; per cent of its buyers. And if
that’s the case, you’re better off concentrat-
ing your efforts on the vital few who pay
most of the freight.
“The result is that your time is freed
up to work with more rewarding clients,”
So how do you go about it? Here are
three simple steps.
Assess your customers. Find your top
;; per cent. Of the remainder, identify any
clients who are abusive, unreasonable or just
difficult to work with. (The Pareto principle
also suggests you experience ;; per cent of
your problems from ;; per cent of your
clientele.) Some of them may have to go.
Assess yourself. Before dropping the
axe, “take some time to consider your relationship with the ‘bad’ client,” advises
Coutu. “Is there anything you can do to
make it right?” Some customers may just
need a nudge—such as a clearer explanation
of your policies—to clean up their act.
Fire! Be sensitive and tactful. A phone
call is more personal, but a letter works too.
Thank the clients for their business, then
let them know that the relationship isn’t
working. And apologize—“We’re sorry we’ve
been unable to satisfy your needs”—even if
you’ve done nothing wrong.
Finish up by suggesting a solution—
namely, referring the buyer elsewhere: “The
other companies in town may be better able
to help you.” C
Gord Woodward is a writer and business
author in British Columbia.
Need more pro;t?
Fire some of your customers
Joseph Sherren ( ethos.ca) is
a management effectiveness
specialist helping organizations and individuals around
the world produce positive
and lasting change.
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