“Managers light a fire under people; leaders light a fire in people.”
While I’ve heard this several time in the not too distant past, it was a quote that Sharon Goodlove, of the Goodlove Counseling Center.
Although this is not a new mantra in management counseling circles, it is a recall to stimulate management tactics during these economic growth times. So, what’s the difference? Isn’t “lighting a fire” simply lighting a fire? Isn’t “stimul”ating a salesperson to sell more, simply stimulation? Isn’t “motivating administration, shipping clerical and management personal”, motivation? Well… No. It isn’t.
If you own your own company or are in a management position charged with the task of getting more out of each employee – rather than hiring another employee – you probable realize that these employees have already been browbeaten to their limits to work longer hours; produce more output; cover more of the job responsibilities of a previously displaced employee. To keep their jobs, they are probably producing the most voluminous results of their career. Worried about their possibly looming unemployment they are stressing to their competent limits of performance. Any more stress, any more browbeating, any more reflective comments of “We are still thinking about cutting back on employees…” will no longer light their fires. Now it might just produce less quality output, performance, management, sales, etc.
That fire we’re referring to is/should be positive stimulation with appropriate compensation! With that glob of English you may well ask “What the hell does that mean?!?!?! That’s what this article is all about! POSITIVE STIMULATION rather than NEGATIVE THREATS! UNDERSTANDING employee CAPABILITIES rather than BEATING out more hours per day without proper/completive compensation. PROPER distribution of compatible work functions/loads.
Several obvious examples: “Remember, your job is on the line.” Or “I know you have several more working hours in you tonight.” And “You’ve managed the accounting department so well, we feel you can also manage our IT Department. Even though we’ve cut back on personnel in both departments.” Your response has always been “Sure! No problem! I’ll just work everyone longer hours and weekends.” Maybe I’ve missed something, but I can’t find any POSITIVE stimulation here.
At this point you may ask me “Well, if you’re sooooooo smart, what would you suggest we do to compete successfully against our competition that is successfully squeeeeeeezing more out of each of their employees?” The answer isn’t easy. But the direction is. While you probably don’t have the extra cash to dramatically increase their salaries, hopefully you do have a “Thank you” in you. Or a “I really appreciate your efforts.” And “I know you’re overloaded. Let me buy lunch” or “Take the afternoon off and spend it with the wife/kids/significant other/at the beach… You’ve earned it and I just want you to know that we appreciate your extra efforts.”
Ok, so simply telling your employees you appreciate them isn’t enough. But it’s a start. It’s simple and inexpensive recognition of their devotion to your company or your department. Additionally, how about asking them for their input to their work efforts? Do they feel there’s a better way, a faster way, an alternative that may result in a significant betterment to their work function – to your bottom line? Now you’re including them in the decision cycle. You’re acknowledging their knowledge, their position, their insight. Acknowledge their contribution stating that you will “Take it under consideration (use your own words).” The final decision is always the boss’s but their input is always sought after and “appreciated.”
Please don’t for one moment think that this is all that’s required to “Light that fire.” It’s simply a direction, and ideology, a spirit, a thought process to involve your workers so that they understand that they are of value to you and your business/department. The more they know that they are a positive part of what is going on, the more they will be a positive part of what is going on