“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
Mark Twain once said that the key to his success in life was “… that I was born excited.” Most entrepreneurs I have met feel exactly the same way. That doesn’t mean they don’t need a little boost along the way or the tools to translate their excitement into motivating others on their team into action.
Very often when people think of successful entrepreneurs, the first thing that jumps into their minds is motivation. It’s a fact that your ability to motivate yourself and others will ultimately determine how successful you are in business and life. The more motivated you and your team are, the more you will accomplish. Motivation destroys procrastination, encourages positive action, boosts energy, and increases performance at every level of any organization.
The cunningly clever entrepreneur knows that few great achievements are the work of a single person. As a leader, you must serve as a catalyst for others so great things get done. It is your ability to perceive the need for motivation, recognize what kind of motivation will serve best, and reward motivated individuals, that ultimately leads to team success.
One of my favorite motivational stories is that of Charles Schwab, legendary leader of U.S. Steel under Andrew Carnegie and the first man ever to be paid a million dollars a year. He was a master motivator. Schwab had a mill manager whose people weren’t producing their quota of work. “How is it,” Schwab asked him, “that a manager as capable as you can’t make this mill produce what it should?”
“I don’t know.” the manager replied. “I’ve coaxed the men, I’ve pushed them, I’ve sworn and cussed, I’ve threatened them with damnation and being fired. But nothing works. They just won’t produce.”
The conversation took place at the end of the day, just before the night shift came on. Schwab asked the manager for a piece of chalk, then, turning to the nearest man, asked: “How many heats did your shift make today?”
“Six,” replied the man.
Without another word, Schwab chalked a big figure six on the floor, and walked away.
When the night shift came in, they saw the chalked number “6” on the floor and asked what it meant.
“The big boss was in here today,” the day people said. “He asked us how many heats we made, and we told him six. He chalked it down on the floor.”
The next morning Schwab walked through the mill again. The night shift had rubbed out “6” and replaced it with a big “7.”
When the day shift reported for work the next morning, they saw a big “7” chalked on the floor. So the night shift thought they were better than the day shift, did they? Well, they would show the night shift a thing or two. The crew pitched in with enthusiasm, and when they quit that night, they left behind them an enormous, swaggering “10.” Things were stepping up.
The competition continued at a ferocious pace until the output of steel from a single shift was the best in the entire chain of plants. This resulted in millions of additional dollars—not by technology, pay raises, promises, or threats, but by the power of a two-cent piece of chalk (and the brain behind it).
The Five Prerequisites for Motivation
In order for motivation to work effectively in any organization, big or small, there are five prerequisite conditions:
1. The goals you are striving for must be clear and well-defined. Nothing is less motivating than a nebulous goal like “Let’s make customer service better.” Make the target easy to see.
2. There must be a way of keeping score so you and your team know how you are doing: sales, weight loss, collection of funds, runs scored, production of widgets. Whatever it is, improvement must be trackable.
3. The tools, resources, and (if necessary) the process of achieving the goal must be identified, explained by you, and understood by your team.
4. Information, training, and mentoring must be available. Often when you take on a major project, you or your team may not have all the knowledge you need to complete it. When this is the case, you must be committed to finding the information and engaging in any necessary training.
5. There must be something in it for them. At the end of the day, there must be a payoff of some kind. The bigger and better the payoff, the stronger the motivation, although that may not always be money. For many people, time off and peer recognition are stronger motivations than cash.
Understand what motivates you. Seek to discover what motivates others.
For more ideas on how to motivate your team purchase…