Friday, 30 January 2009

Motivation Bite Size - Job Satisfaction

One of the greatest motivators in the workplace is job satisfaction - that feeling of actually enjoying the job that you do and looking forward to coming to work in the mornings. But what are the main contributors to job satisfaction?

The starting point is normally, are you good at your job? Does your job suit your skill set? Does it enable you to play to your strengths and minimise exposure to your weaknesses?

Secondly, does it interest you? If you enjoy analytical work, are you given plenty of opportunity to exercise this? If you like to be challenged, does your job challenge you? If you like meeting new people, does your job enable you to do so?

Another aspect to consider is, do the company, your manager and your immediate work colleagues share similar values to you? You can be good at your job and find your work interesting but if you are asked to work in contrary to your core values and beliefs, you are unlikely to derive a lot of job satisfaction.

In fact, job dissatisfaction can be a primary cause of stress.

As a manager or leader of people, what can you do to facilitate high levels of job satisfaction among your people?

It begins of course, by recruiting the right people. Hiring people with the right skill sets but also, people who share the values and attitudes that are consistent with your working environment. In many cases, there is the opportunity to adjust the job content among team members to ensure both optimum performance and job interest. Are you playing to the strengths within your team? There is also the opportunity to understand people's values and attitudes and to create an environment where these are broadly matched - if you have hired the right people in the first place. Job satisfaction will also be influenced by many of the other motivating and de-motivating factors that we will look at in this series.

In short, creating high levels of job satisfaction will generally come down to three core leadership actions:

1. Hiring the right people.

2. Creating workflows that play to their strengths.

3. Establishing and maintaining an open and honest communication channel with your people.

Simon Cooper heads up the Experiential Learning Centre and is the author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Motivation Bite Size - Job Security

In tough economic times when job insecurity is a concern for so many people, the prospect of job security is high on the motivational scale. When jobs are plentiful, this is much less of an issue.

But as leaders and managers of people what can we do to positively affect people’s job security?

The first thing is to focus on helping your people to become high performers, making them a valuable asset to the company. This will be particularly relevant if an organisation is using a matrix methodology to select employees for redundancy.

The second thing is to help your people to develop new skills and capability. This will not only enhance their performance capability and reduce the chances of redundancy but also, it will help them to find a new job should the worst happen.

Of course, a really effective people leader will not wait until tough economic times to implement these actions – they are a core part of the leadership role. And if you have been paying due attention to performance and development issues during the good times, your staff will have much better employment prospects right now than those less fortunate souls who have been working for an ineffective manager.

And if the worst does happen and you need to lay off any of your staff members, do everything you can to support them through the process, including generating job leads via your network and providing some level of career counselling at the point of exit. You might also want to stay in touch with them as they could form a useful part of your network going forward. Providing this type of support is not only a decent thing to do but it will also have a motivational effect on your staff that remain - i.e. having a leader who genuinely cares and tries to support their team members.

Simon Cooper is cheif executive of the Experiential Learning Centre, author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader and architect of the Brilliant Leadership workshops.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The Importance of Leadership Development

It’s easy to discount the importance of leadership development, assuming that corporate leaders either have what they take or they don’t and if they do they’ll learn as they go. If they don’t...well, if they didn’t have what it took they wouldn’t have been given a leadership role to begin with, right?

Not necessarily. Sometimes all that’s needed is a little leadership development.

There is no such thing as a natural born leader, which is why leadership development is so important. Anyone can have the fundamental requirements necessary for the leadership role. It’s how they develop them that matters.

Leadership development is defined as an effort to enhance a learner’s ability to lead, an endeavor focused on developing the leadership abilities and attitudes of the individuals sitting at the top of the chain of command. Successful leadership development requires a lot more than the ability to give orders. It also requires diplomacy, top of the line people skills, a certain level of ruthlessness and an understanding of how much space there is and there isn’t between the executive suite and the mail room. A good leader doesn’t just lead. He or she leads by example.

Leadership development within a company should be addressed at both the individual and group level. Individual leadership development can be undertaken in both a hands-on and a classroom environment, and which method your organization chooses is entirely up to you. Through various exercises the individual learns to identify their strengths and weaknesses, using both to shape and mold their successful leadership style.

Individual leadership development is very important for individuals first entering the field and those who are having a difficult time taking up the reins of command. Additional leadership development offers them the opportunity to hone their skills, smooth over their weaknesses and learn to make the most of their current position rather than finding themselves stuck on the bottom rung of the ladder to success because of a lack of knowledge and personal resources.

Group leadership development is absolutely vital in any company, regardless of industry, because it teaches an executive team how to look, think and act like a team. For a business to run smoothly it’s essential that the executive team be able to operate like a well oiled wheel, cognizant of each other’s patterns, strengths, weaknesses and goals and able to work together to achieve success. Any leadership team that is rapidly “slapped” together and tossed into the ring is going to fail almost instantly. It takes time and practice, and leadership development offers the opportunity for both.

Leadership development through books, activities, conferences and classroom studies is a vital part of any company’s success, which is why there are hundreds of books, seminars, conferences, workshops, boot camps and personal coaches devoted to that very goal. Never underestimate the importance of the team of people holding the reins in an organization, and don’t discount the need to allow those individuals to develop their leadership skills both inside and out of the office.

Leadership matters.

Guest writer Ray Subs is a public relations consultant forN2Growth, a company that specializes in helping businesses and their leaders grow and develop to find success in a competitive corporate environment. More information can be found at

Monday, 19 January 2009

Motivation Bite Size - Money

To what extent does money motivate people in the workplace?

Certainly, money is the reason why most people come to work in the first place but once they are there, is it really a key motivator? My own experience is that for most people it is primarily a short-term motivator. Consider if your employer awarded you a 25% bonus tomorrow. Sure, it would be nice and you would probably feel pretty motivated but for how long? When would the effects of that bonus wear off and other factors become more important to you?

What about if a new employer offered to double your salary? Would you accept the job without qualification? What if they wanted you to relocate? What if they wanted you to work seven days a week? What if they were financially unstable? I’m guessing that while the extra money would be attractive, it wouldn’t be the sole motivation.

When money does tend to be a primary motivator is when current earnings are not enough to sustain a reasonable lifestyle. If someone is struggling to pay their mortgage or feed their family, money is never very far from their agenda. But once our earnings are sufficient to take care of our core lifestyle requirements, it is rarely the primary thing that motivates us.

Simon Cooper is Chief Executive of the Experiential Learning Centre, author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader and architect of the Brilliant Leadership workshops.