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Motivation

Here are the questions filed under this category. To read Ken's advice on any item, click on the link "Read Ken's Answer."


Our large communication company has implemented a monthly evaluation of each work group to increase productivity. The result is the low performer is harassed by management even if the group is satisfactory in every way. We are being appraised strictly on data the employees themselves supply to management. What to do?
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We just had a management meeting to discuss employee motivation, and one of the managers said that Tuesday is the most productive day of the week. Have you ever heard of this, and is there any truth to it?
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I have an employee who does decent work, but that's it. It's always the bare minimum, and he will only do more if I say so. I believe he's very capable, and I wonder if there is a way to get him to show more initiative, or is this it?
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We have been having some safety/vandalism problems outside our building, and we are trying to work on them. Within the company, we have implemented many motivational programs, including regular meetings between the employees and the company officers, but most of these discussions revert back to safety. We would like to keep the discussion on a higher plane and are wondering what can you suggest.
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I am 52, a senior in college, and will be looking for a career shortly. My degree in Communication is general, but I have a background in other areas. Having experienced the corporate culture for a few years, I found it terribly disturbing because of my values. Do you have any advice on how to choose a career?
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I manage a department of five people, and when one of the principals of the company came in for a visit, I answered one of his questions. No sooner had I done so when one of my employees corrected my grammar. I was shocked and annoyed, but I didn't say anything to her about it at the time. The irony is that my grammar was not incorrect. When an employee does this, should I say something?
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I do not know how to deal with an employee who comes to my office several times a day to tell me how well he did on one project or another. He constantly needs to be stroked, and he won't stop talking about what he has accomplished until I tell him what a good job he did.
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Our manager just purchased and put up several pictures with trite little expressions about perseverance, loyalty, happiness, honesty, and so forth. He thought we would like them, but we are not kids, and these signs seem like such a waste. Should we say something to him?
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Whenever I compliment a certain employee in my unit, he either ignores it or makes a snide comment. I have told him that a simple "thanks" will do, but he hasn't changed at all. Should I just forget about giving him compliments?
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Our manager pretends to be interested in our ideas, and she uses all of this management terminology, but in reality she wants everything done her way. She never admits a mistake, and if we succeed at something, she makes little comments telling us that she did it even better. How in the world do you deal with someone like this?
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Whenever I compliment a certain employee in my unit, he either ignores it or makes a snide comment. I have told him that a simple "thanks" will do, but he hasn't changed at all. Should I just forget about giving him compliments?
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I am a sales manager, and during the summer, I told the sales team that if they exceeded the goal, I would shave all the hair off my head. Well, they roared right past it, but things have changed since the summer and I'm not in the mood to do this. How bad would it be if I deferred it?
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My one-year review and a raise will be coming soon. Another person was hired a couple of months before me for the same position. His review and raise will be due before mine, but I do my job better than he does his. He has had problems with several projects and was briefly on probation. I will be upset if we both receive the same raise. How can I discuss this with my supervisor without sounding arrogant?
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I have job offers for similar positions from two very different companies. One is a large and well-established firm that offers a career path, stability, training, and great benefits. The other is not quite a start-up, but it is less structured, less organized, and yet offers more variety, more challenge, more potential opportunity, and more risk. I keep changing my mind, and I don't know which one to take. Do you have any suggestions?
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I am not sure how to deal with a manager who gives too much recognition. Every time any of us do anything, he pours lavish praise upon us. This is getting to be a distraction and even a joke, and several of us are wondering if we should say something.
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We have been having a high degree of turnover among our younger employees, and I am wondering if this is just a common occurrence with Generation X. If so, what are some good ways to retain them?
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Our manager tells us that fear is the great motivator. He threatens to write us up, give us poor reviews, hold back our raises, and terminate those who are not up to his standards. I don't think fear is a great motivator at all, but I am working hard. Does he have something?
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We have an excellent technical employee who wants to take a month off without pay so that he can teach a course. We are dismayed that he would be out this long, but if we don't let him do this, we are afraid that he will leave. Is there any way to change his mind?
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We have retained a company to provide managerial training for our newer managers. All of them are pleased with this training opportunity, except for one. He looked over the program and said that it is a waste of time and he is not interested. Should we force him to attend, or is this a sign that he is not motivated to be in management?
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Our manager told us that he heard that employees today seek recognition more than anything else at work, including money. He said we need to keep this in mind when supervising in our areas. I think this is an oversimplification, but when I said this to him, he said I was flat-out wrong. Am I?
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We cannot pay our employees very high wages, but we are fairly competitive for our industry. With all the emphasis today on how money motivates people, what are some things we can do, besides money, to motivate them?
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Our manager gives us no recognition when we meet or surpass our goals, whether as individuals or as a team. She is more likely to focus negatively on some minor point or ignore our success altogether. Should we say something to her?
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I was named the Employee of the Month, and the reward is a special parking place near our building for a month. When I drove to this spot, there was a car in it. My manager said there are "special visitors" for the next week, so I should use my regular spot. I didn't say anything, but I must have looked disappointed. He said I should "grow up." What do you think?
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How can I get thanked by my boss? I do good work, and I have gone the extra mile on many assignments, but he shows no appreciation at all. His attitude is that my paycheck and my job are thanks enough.
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I am in sales and make over $200,000. Last year, the company hired a compliance person, and now the president has him handling leads that come in. He is supposed to find out how they heard about us. About 30% of the leads say they don't know. Some of those leads should be mine, but he told me I have no right to leads that do not mention my name, and he should be paid commissions for getting them. How should I proceed? The president has a negative view of salespeople.
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Our manager recently introduced a goal-setting program as part of our performance appraisals. He said goals are important for motivation, but some of the goals he set are impossible to meet, and we have had no participation in the process. What can we do?
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We recently moved from dreary and cramped offices to new offices that are much nicer in every respect, including furniture, parking, lighting, and layout. People were not very productive in our old offices, and we expected an improvement once we moved. However, there has been no change. What do you suggest?
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After working here for a year, I had a performance review with my manager. At the end, I gave him a write-up of my goals for the coming year. He looked them over, set them aside, and said he makes the goals for his employees. He said he gets better goals by doing this. What do you think?
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Our manager gives us recognition, but on a regular cycle. He takes each of us to lunch every six weeks. And every three weeks like clockwork, I'll get praise from him, and the others in the department are on their own three week cycle. The praise and recognition are nice, but kind of meaningless. Why would a manager do this?
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My manager was at a seminar and was advised that titles are more important than money. Because of this, he has decided to change many of our titles, such as by giving managers the title of director, and he has cut our raises way back. Is he right about this?
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Our manager is forever saying that everyone here can be replaced, and we should not forget it. We get the point and we are tired of hearing it. What should we say to him when he does this?
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I work for a medium sized company, and I was at a meeting when one of the executive vice presidents said that there are too many inflated titles here and they should be changed to reflect more of what people are actually doing. For example, he wants to change the title of several department directors to department manager. Does this make sense?
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Our company does not pay competitive salaries, and the benefits are below average for this area. To make up for this, we get inflated titles. People in top management think this is motivational, but just about everyone else thinks it's a joke. What's the point of this approach?
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I am a new manager here, and I was just informed that I am supposed to meet with my employees to discuss the goals that they have set for themselves for the coming year. I do not believe in this process. I am the one who sets goals for my employees because I know what is best for the company, while the employees are out for themselves. How can I get this point across?
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I was selected as employee of the month, and I was given a special parking place right in front of the building for one month. I came in one morning last week, and someone else was parked in it. When I complained, my manager said that I'm being petty and I should just find another place. What do you think of this treatment?
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Last quarter I beat my sales quota by over 100%. Now my sales manager has raised my quota to a number that is just about impossible to reach. This is not fair, and I'd like to know if there is a way to get him to change it back.
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Our company gives incentives and awards to employees in other departments, but ours is overlooked. We talked to our manager about this, and he said there is nothing he can do because our work is not set up this way. What should we do?
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The company where I work has a program to reward us for giving good customer service. The problem is that the reward means the employee is placed in a drawing for some prizes. I have been singled out for excellent customer service several times, and I get into the drawing, but I have never won a prize. What do you think of this kind of program?
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How do you deal with an employee who is always fishing for compliments? I manage six people, and one is always telling me about something good that she did. After I compliment her, she is happy and goes back to work. It's getting a little tiring. Do you have any suggestions?
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The other day, my manager walked into my work area and said she wanted to give me some feedback. She then took out a piece of paper and read off a list of things that I have done wrong over the past three months. This was not my formal evaluation, and I am very upset by this treatment. What should I do?
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I have been having difficulties with one of my employees, and I met with her on several occasions to talk about her productivity, cooperation, and attitude. I don't want to write her up because I would rather motivate her more positively than negatively. What can you suggest?
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My manager is upset with the goals I set for myself this year, and I don't see the problem. The goals included increasing gross margins, cross training my employees, and reducing turnover. My manager said that these are not goals, since goals need to be specific. Are these goals or not?
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In my performance review, my manager said I am the weakest link in the chain and that I need to show more energy and motivation. I do not want to be terminated, but I am not sure of what to do now. What do you think?
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Our manager means well, and he likes to come into our work area and give us spot bonuses. I like extra cash as much as anyone, but his bonuses have nothing to do with anything. He just gives them to everyone. What do you think of this approach?
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At my evaluation, I received a minimal raise, but I did get a better title. I am unhappy with the raise, and a new title doesnít mean much. I was afraid this would happen because I heard my manager say that employees prefer titles over money. Is he right?
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My manager advised me to pick a certain day every month and use that day to give my employees some recognition for their work. I can tell that he does the same thing, because he seems to show up every other Friday in our department to thank us for something. Is this a worthwhile step to take as a manager?
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When our manager gives us assignments, she tells us how disappointed she will be if we donít do well. If something goes wrong, she harps on how we failed her and how she expected so much more of us. We donít know what this management style is, but we are not comfortable with it. What can we do?
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I have an employee who keeps complimenting himself. He'll say what a good job he did on a particular project, and then repeat it several times. I am tired of hearing this, and I wonder if I should tell him to stop.
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