I have spent 30 years studying management techniques in a variety of industries from dude ranching to factory work to elementary education to software development to the fitness industry. Most of the time I was the employee being managed, sometimes I was the manager. When I was hired to be the bookkeeper at Cassell Consulting last July, I didn’t bring a lot of construction industry experience to the position, but I did bring expertise in employee management.
It is always pleasant when employers seek to motivate employees with rewards – money always fits & promotions and bonuses make any day a little nicer. But those things recognize good work after the fact, they aren’t what primarily motivates most employees.
What motivates employees to go above and beyond is when employers expect us to act in the best interests of the company on our own, not for reward and not because it’s our job, but just because that’s what people do. It’s how every business owner works – always trying to make their company a success – why not trust that your employees have the same internal motivation? It’s a cliché for a company to say that their best asset is their people, but any company that genuinely feels that way will get great performance from their employees.
It’s hard to define what demonstrates that a company really does value and trust their employees, but if you work for one of those companies or managers, you know it. And if your employer just gives lip-service to the value of their employees, as many do, you know that too.
If you want to see this in action, watch a film called “The Parking Lot Movie”. This is a documentary about employees at a parking lot in Charlottesville, Virginia. They are the most dedicated workers imaginable, and it’s not for the pay. The lot owner hires them, then leaves them to do their job, including handling large amounts of cash, dealing with problem customers, and deciding when to run the lot. In the film one of the workers says that people always ask him “How do I get a job here?”, and he says “You can’t. You have to know someone.” You can rent this film here on Amazon.com. This film is a great example of how to motivate employees and should be a required viewing at any business school.
This article was written by Laurel Cripe, who started at Cassell Consulting in July of 2014. She is enjoying being closer to her original home in Oregon after a varied career that includes a BS in Applied Mathematics from Montana State University and Software Development at Microsoft Corporation as a Test Engineer. Her professional career also includes stints as a Tennis Teaching Professional, and working on dude ranches around the western states. Laurel’s free time is spent on the tennis courts, on a road or mountain bicycle, or working in her yard where there is always room for one more landscape project.