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Motivation in action

Motivation is a driving force within an individual to do something well. Motivation is particular to an individual so it is important to find out what factors drive each person. Some employees may be motivated by working in a team whereas others could be driven by a desire to make a difference.

Customer service involves all those activities designed to identify and satisfy customer needs. The company uses a simple customer satisfaction survey – the Enterprise Service Quality index (ESQi) – to find out how satisfied its customers are. It is based on two simple questions:

  • Were you completely satisfied with your rental experience at Enterprise?
  • Given the opportunity to return to Enterprise, would you?

Enterprise knows that to perform well on the ESQi it needs to have motivated employees. The company prides itself on providing superb customer service. Only highly motivated staff will provide this quality of service. Employees deal with customers face-to-face and by phone, email and online.

The culture at Enterprise supports customer service which excels and differentiates the business from that of its competitors. The term culture refers to typical ways of behaving in an organisation.  Enterprise is a big company that has the approach and feel of a small business. Each employee has an important role to play.  To understand how Enterprise continues to meet its financial and strategic objectives, it is necessary to understand the culture. 

The culture is based on having motivated people working every day to deliver the best service for customers. Customer satisfaction drives the growth of the business because this results in repeat custom, recommendations to other people and an enhanced reputation.

The term ‘motivation’ can be used to describe anything which causes people to accomplish more than they would otherwise achieve.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

These 8 factors fit closely with the theory of human resource development. For example,

  • safety – a need to feel secure, e.g. through job security or personal protective equipment
  • social – a need for affection, e.g. friendly work places based on trust, support and encouragement
  • self-esteem – a need for self-respect and the respect of others, e.g. recognition and promotion
  • self-actualisation – the opportunity for personal fulfilment, e.g. learning new skills and working towards personal goals.

John Stacy Adams- Equity Theory

In comparison, another researcher, John Stacey Adams, set out his Equity Theory. This states that employees will balance the effort they put into work (input) with the rewards they get from it (output). They then compare their own input-to-output ratio to what they perceive others’ to be. Adams’ theory suggests that employees will be motivated if they feel that they are being treated fairly in the workplace compared to their colleagues.

As part of its motivation programme, Enterprise managers are expected to ensure that employees are engaged and motivated by:

  • developing good relationships with their staff
  • providing the right materials, equipment and information
  • encouraging employees to identify personal development targets
  • recognising and rewarding good performance.

Enterprise also recognises that motivated employees benefit the company by:

  • working with passion
  • coming up with new innovative ideas
  • moving the company forward.
  • Clear communications – clear goals and expectations are set and plans are shared. Reasons for doing things are clearly explained so employees can see how they fit into the big picture.
  • Adequate resources – managers make sure that materials, equipment and information are provided and fit for purpose.
  • Encouragement employees are praised for getting things right. Frustrations and problems are acknowledged. The focus is on working towards goals.
  • Recognition effort and good performance are rewarded. By establishing best practice, it is possible for Enterprise to measure branch culture against the benchmarks or standards it has set.

Team leaders need to understand the needs of the people they manage to ensure they apply the right motivating factors for individuals. During training, managers learn to assess the motivation culture of their branch. For example, a branch with highly motivated employees may demonstrate this by:

  • answering the phone before the working day starts
  • working together as a team

Frederick Herzberg

  • a lack of organisation or structure
  • a lack of feedback
  • a lack of understanding why a task is important
  • a lack of consequences for poor performance.

Managers are therefore trained to identify and work to reduce these within their branches. This may be by effective communication, training or clear guidance on job standards.

Recognition, one of Herzberg’s motivators, is important for employees to feel they are valued. To address this, Enterprise has introduced a system called ‘The Vote’. This aims to support and encourage the development of exceptional customer service.

The names of the best performer and most improved employee are communicated to all employees in the region. This is a way of recognising those employees who are delivering exceptional service and identifying those who may need additional motivation.

‘The Vote’ helps to achieve high ESQi scores because:

  • everyone is involved in suggesting improvements to others
  • only constructive feedback is allowed
  • progress reports are issued regularly to remind fellow employees on how to improve.
  • improvement is valued as much as overall performance.

The training that managers receive also enables them to consider how they can motivate employees in non-management roles. It provides a checklist of actions that managers may take with employees. This may be by something as simple as saying ‘thank you’ in public or formally publicising exceptional effort resulting in a satisfied customer.

Managers in Enterprise motivate their employees through informal competitions, giving opportunities to take the lead on projects or providing training to learn new skills.

A motivated workforce does not just happen. People need to be encouraged. This requires skilful management and managers trained in motivation. Systems also need to be created which encourage employees to be more engaged with their jobs.

  • How does your task and position fit your goals?
  • What could we do better?

By actively listening to the employee’s ideas, they may be able to make changes that will motivate the employee.

Enterprise encourages managers to motivate their teams throughout the working day. This involves:

  • making sure the team understands the objectives and targets for the day (taking into account any constraints such as short staffing)
  • monitoring progress at mid-day and giving constructive feedback on how to make the rest of the day run smoothly
  • thanking and acknowledging each person”s achievement for that day and creating enthusiasm for the next day’s work.

Enterprise managers recognise that motivation is personal to the individual. If employees feel that they are being treated fairly, they will be more likely to give their best. Motivation comes from within an individual. Enterprise managers therefore need to find out about the personal goals and aspirations of their employees. What motivates one employee will not necessarily motivate another.

In addition to ensuring fair pay and conditions, it is also essential for the business to meet the higher order needs of individual employees. These include the need for recognition and fulfillment at work.

Enterprise has created the right environment for motivating and engaging its people through the development of good communication channels, appropriate training and honest and timely feedback.