Employers’ worldwide seem to have the same complaint. "Why can't I find good employees with a positive work ethic?" Is this statement really true? This was a common complaint among "old timers" when I was a kid. Now that I'm the "old timer" I find myself sometimes voicing the same opinion.

Each generation seems to feel the next has it easier and softer than they did. We also don't want to admit that we have failed to pass along positive work ethic and moral values to our children. So how can we change this trend, if in fact it does exist?

Start With You

If you are a small business owner, chances are you, your wife and one or two of your kids are your only employees. If that's the case then how do you motivate yourself? You probably think you started your business to make money. You could make money working for someone else with a lot less effort than running a business. More than likely you started your business for the self-satisfaction of being your own boss and accomplishing your personal goals. And that's the key — goals.

Could Bill Gates take all his marbles and go home and never work again? Of course he could. Why then would he put himself through the pressure, the lawsuits, and the hassle if he doesn't have to? Because he has goals and visions of accomplishing personal and company goals that have nothing to do with how much money will be realized. Do you think Michael Jordan was thinking of his salary when he won his sixth NBA title?

What Is Success?

The definition of success is, "The progressive daily realization of a worthwhile goal or dream." Notice the absence of, "and make a lot of money." Was Mother Teresa successful? Michael Jordan was the perfect example of this definition. As each day goes by, you see yourself getting just a little closer to your goal or dream. Some days you fail, but you vow to do better tomorrow. You never lose sight of the goal. What have you done today to make your business better? What will you do tomorrow?

What Is Vision?

The second part of this equation is vision. Vision is the ability to see your business, not where it is today, but where you want it to be when you're done. Decisions you make today could have an impact on your business for years to come. You should be basing those decisions on your vision of your business future.

How to Lead and Motivate Your Employees

Sooner or later you will need employees. Leading and motivating yourself is one thing, leading others is something else. Let's look at the different styles and kinds of leadership:

  • Dictatorship - In my opinion, the worst. Striking fear into the hearts and minds of employees never results in positive production. Usually you will produce a work force that is afraid to make suggestions or grow their positions by accepting more responsibility.
  • Democratic Leadership - Can you always be fair to everyone? This often fails in government and may also fail in your business.
  • Leadership By Example - Better, but don't expect clones of you. Each person brings his or her own skills and traits to the job. They will get the job done, but not the same way you would. The best use of this style is to show a positive example not a negative.
  • Silent or Low-Key Leadership - This type of leadership is often mistaken for lack of leadership. You must communicate with your people.

Which Is Best?
So, of the above, which is best? Answer: All of them. You will use bits and pieces of each method depending on the employee and situation.

  • If you have employees handling dangerous materials you may need to be a dictator about their respect of safety regulations for their own protection.
  • If you are managing a group or team with many diverse personalities, you may need to be more democratic in your leadership.
  • If you have strict company policies that everyone, from the top down, must follow you will set the example for others by following them to the letter.
  • There are certain employees, which over time require little or no supervision. Communicate when necessary but use low-key leadership. Don't rock the boat if it's sailing smoothly.

Employee Goals and Dreams

Do people work for companies or themselves? If you answered “themselves,” you are correct. There isn't a person alive who works primarily to achieve the quotas of any company. He or she works for the benefits to their personal individual monetary goals for themselves and their families. If the benefits to the company conflict with the benefits to the employee, which do you think will be most important to the employee? The company or their family?

How To Motivate People Positively

If you want to motivate a person positively, find out what they are interested in. What is their one overpowering burning desire? It may not be money. Some people just want to be appreciated for their efforts. What about the hourly clerk in the retail store? Getting paid more money per hour to go to a job where the boss ignores your efforts? What's that worth?

Some Final Thoughts

Get to know your employees on a personal level. Support them and help them achieve their goals and they will move mountains. Encourage them to measure their efforts and teach them how to improve performance as a way of obtaining their personal goals. Motivation can be as simple as appreciation. Give it a try.

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