Employee Motivation Part IV

Thomas E. Cavanaugh, DC, MBA

In Parts I, II, and III of this series on “employee motivation,’ we addressed the lack of proper resources, inadequate training materials, lack of appreciation, lack of rewards and lack of recognition as a few reasons why a staff is unmotivated. This week we will discuss how employees can be the cause of their own lack of motivation.

Choosing Not to Work Hard

People have the ability to decide what type of worker they will be. We all have free agency and have developed character traits through our habits and our attitudes. Someone who has spent years being lazy as a couch potato, who puts minimal effort into their work and who resultantly has accomplished little in their life, is quite likely going to continue in their idle ways. These individuals always take the “easy road’ regardless of whether it´s the best or not, and refuse to accept responsibility when their “easy’ choices create unfavorable results. These individuals are very reactive in situations and are quick to blame others for their own problems, mistakes and lack of abundance. They don´t understand that the universe gives back what we put out.

Some believe that you are who you are brought up to be, and blame the familial environment that deprives individuals, intentionally or not, of the great blessings from hard work for their unmotivated way of living. But when we reach the age of adulthood we have this great gift called “awareness.’ It is what makes us different from the animal kingdom. It is the ability to step “out of ourselves’ and see ourselves for who we are.

As an adult, when we recognize that we were probably dealt a “raw hand’ from our social upbringing we should be mature enough to just say, “Enough is enough. I will no longer blame others for the way my life is. I will take responsibility and I will take action to make those changes that will ultimately give me the life I want.’ Unfortunately, many will choose not to accept responsibility, and will continue to wallow in self-pity, seeking out sympathy and carrying a defensive chip on their shoulders to work.

No Personal Baggage Allowed

We are all familiar with the word “baggage.’ Some people carry personal baggage into their business life. If the marriage is not going well, it comes to the office. If the kids are doing bad things and stressing out mom or dad, it comes to the office. If there is a personal financial problem, it comes to the office. People are naturally influenced by the feelings of those around them, and employees who bring their personal problems to work have a negative impact on everyone else in the office, including patients. This negative impact is distracting and harmful to your practice. Maintain a positive, healing environment for your patients and a pleasant, motivating atmosphere for your employees by insisting that all personal baggage be left outside the front door.

Feeling the Ratio of Effort to Pay is Off Balance

It´s interesting that some of the most challenging work is also the lowest paying. Jobs like daily sanitation, working in fast food chains, telemarketing, lawn maintenance, plastering, etc. are more physically and sometimes more mentally challenging than other jobs that pay more. Why is this? It´s because the amount of pay a job warrants is not dependent on effort alone.

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The law of supply and demand, along with the reward factor for having a higher education or a greater job risk determines pay scale. Such fields of higher paying work include chiropractors, medical doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, CEOs, dentists and a numerous other professions.

The supply of lesser skilled individuals outweighs the supply of those with greater skills. Thus, the law of supply and demand has determined lower wages for those jobs that require less skill. Unfortunately, many employees have a hard time accepting this. For example, a chiropractic assistant may feel he/she deserves more pay for working as hard as he/she can, and will feel justified in doing less work or shirking off some of his/her job responsibilities if a pay increase is not forthcoming. This C.A. feels the ratio of effort to pay is off-balance, and also has no understanding of the success principle to “always work harder than what you are being paid for and some day you will be paid more than what you are worth.’

However, you will find that most employees are happy with what they earn when a reward system as explained in Part III of this series is in place.

Be Aware of the Signs

The following signs will help you easily spot those employees who fall into the categories as discussed above:

• Complaining – This employee is always running around complaining to others but smiling when the doctor is present.
• Daydreaming – This employee finds the time to sit and stare out the window or at some other place if there is not much work to do.
• Gossiping – This employee might be expressing signs of jealousy which could be caused by his/her feeling like they are not being treated fairly or equally by their boss.
• Pessimistic – This employee always sees the glass half empty. Left unchecked, this employee´s pessimism will infect and destroy a practice.
• Inattentive – This employee repeats the same mistakes over and over again – a clear example of lack of focus for the task at hand, or in other words, a lack of Present Time Consciousness (PTC).
What To Do

In all fairness, if we go around firing every employee who exhibits the above signs, we stand to lose many salvageable staff members. Instead, adopt the attitude of giving everyone a chance…or two. Here are a few recommendations:

1. Make a private appointment during office hours to discuss your concerns one-on-one with the employee. Use this as a precursor to a possible probation, but do not use the “probation’ word unless you have to.

2. Explain your concerns and how his/her actions and/or attitude, affects the other staff members, patients and the practice as a whole.

3. Give the employee a chance to talk and explain him/herself, and listen attentively.

4. Ask the employee his/her thoughts on resolving the situation, and what he/she is willing to change and how.

5. Come to a mutual agreement to abide by the solutions.

6.Set a date for a follow-up.

7. In your follow up, praise and congratulate the employee on any positive changes that he/she has made. Together set new goals, and schedule another follow up. If things have not changed, you must use your probationary policies.

8.If things don´t change after resorting to your probationary policies, it´s time to give the employee what he/she wants – you fire him/her.

Know when it´s time to stop trying to motivate an employee and start finding a replacement.

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