Ask Amy: Thinking like an owner

March 21, 2012

Q:  How do I get my team motivated to think like an owner and go the extra mile?  First and foremost, no one can motivate anyone to do anything. Motivation has to come from within! It’s an internal process, a reason to act a certain way based on the good ole’ radio station WII FM (What’s in it for me?). So if that’s the case, why are there jillions of books, lectures and articles written on this very topic?  

Q:  How do I get my team motivated to think like an owner and go the extra mile?  First and foremost, no one can motivate anyone to do anything. Motivation has to come from within! It’s an internal process, a reason to act a certain way based on the good ole’ radio station WII FM (What’s in it for me?). So if that’s the case, why are there jillions of books, lectures and articles written on this very topic?
 
You may not be able to force motivation, but the leader is responsible for creating a culture that influences people to high performance and promotes motivation.
 
This is not just semantics. The best definition of leadership I’ve ever seen is “leadership is influencing and inspiring people to WANT to do what you WANT them to do.” The word “want” is the key to motivation. A lazy way to approach creating a motivating environment is the old school “carrot and stick” form of reward and punishment. This model is based on the fact that your team (a.k.a. donkeys) will only work harder if you dangle a carrot in front of them or threaten them with a whip if they balk. There are fundamental flaws in this logic that makes this model unusable in today’s self-directed team environment.
 

  •  I personally believe that it is disrespectful to view your team as donkeys. Seriously, no one on your team ever looked up at the star-filled sky and said, “I want to do a mediocre job for a dentist someday and only commit to do things better if I get an extra cookie!”

  • Even if you still buy into that way of thinking, what if your donkey isn’t hungry? Or doesn’t like carrots? Or the task that needs to be accomplished is unrealistic, even with the extra incentive?

  • The problem with a whip (punishment as a potential consequence) is that if you continue to threaten and don’t follow through you will have a revolt. A battered individual eventually gives up and sinks into apathy.

 
So if carrots and sticks don’t work, what does?
 

  • Look for the intrinsic benefits to better performance: Tying the requested task to a bigger purpose, highlighting the potential for increased self esteem, increasing self worth through personal growth, recognizing and acknowledging INDIVIDUALS for their efforts that go above and beyond. This should occur 80% more than the number of times you correct poor performance.

  • Create a compensation model based on practice growth and demonstrated individual merit that your staff understands and can control.

  • When you do reward, involve the individual or the team in the creation, execution and follow through and make sure the reward is something they want and the outcome is achievable.

  • Never forget, the small stuff always counts! Praise, ongoing communication, a sense of inclusion and respect are what inspire people to want to come to work. Without it, no amount of reward can ever be enough!

 
Look for more practice management advice from Pride Institute's Amy Morgan in DPR's June “Think Like a CEO” management supplement. For information about Pride Institute's team motivation seminars, call 800-925-2600 or visit prideinstitute.com


Amy Morgan is CEO of the Pride Institute. With Pride since 1993, she is a sought-after educator who still consults one-on-one with practices.