Running a motivation programme

Many philosophers agree that it’s impossible to change the nature of human beings. But if you can understand people’s motivational turn-ons, at least it's a start.

Many philosophers and management experts agree that it’s impossible to change the nature of human beings. But if you can understand people’s motivational turn-ons, then it’s possible to build a company where people work harder and achieve better results, writes Catherine Forrest, business incentives manager at retailer House of Fraser.

Putting together a successful motivation programme is part of this effort. We recommend that companies begin by profiling their target audience, factoring in participants’ ages, gender, marital status, religion, socio-economic grouping and interests. When it comes to choosing a reward, what might appeal to a 25-year-old single man may not be as attractive to a 45-year-old mother of three. And someone’s religion or personal beliefs may preclude them from accepting alcohol as a reward, such as a case of champagne.

Anyone involved in the motivation scheme will need to know just what they need to do, how they should do it and what the rewards are. But there are other things to bear in mind to ensure the scheme is successful.

Involve senior personnel
Getting buy-in from department managers is instrumental in driving forward any motivation scheme. Listen to their advice about how feasible the project is from an operational point of view. Elect a project leader to co-ordinate activity and answer queries.

Keep people updated

Participants will require regular updates on their progress; full and frequent communication is vital to convey every detail.

Invest in communication
Don’t rely on just one medium to tell people about the scheme: use posters, newsletters and monthly meetings for greater impact. Launch the scheme with ceremony.

Avoid misunderstandings
Whether the reward is a holiday, gift vouchers or a hot-air balloon ride, ensure that people understand exactly what is included and whether there are any additional expenses not covered by the scheme.

Measure performance
Use sales reports, production records and customer service feedback to gauge the effectiveness of the programme.

Recognise top achievers
Publicise the stories of your best performers, both internally and externally where possible. People need recognition by others as well as a private pat on the back.

As a rule, well-motivated staff provide better customer service and are more likely to stay with a company, reducing recruitment costs. A well-structured motivation programme can help to achieve that.

See also: Do motivational speakers help boost morale at work?

Marc Barber

Marc Barber

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.