To check your understanding of employee motivation, decide what you think about these statements:
1. Motivation is all about what you say and do to your employees. True or false?
2. Hire enthusiastic self-starters and you won't need to worry about motivation at all. True or false?
1) False. External motivators such as praise, recognition, and monetary rewards (the "carrot") do work up to a point—especially in
the short term. Unfortunately, the effect doesn't last. Even if your practice offers above-average salaries, excellent benefits,
and generous vacation time, these are just employee retainers, not employee motivators. Threatening people with dismissal
(the "stick") may jump-start some people's motivational batteries but, again, only for a while.
This carrot-and-stick approach to motivation may have been enough at one time, but it misses the mark in today's world. The
door to change is opened from the inside, goes an old saying. People can choose to be motivated, but we can't make them choose.
Your challenge is to create the kind of climate that allows self-motivation to flourish.
2) False. Many employees are highly motivated when they start a new job. In most cases, though, they'll eventually encounter something
that kills their motivation and damages their productivity. At that point they're doing only what they're required to do to
avoid reprimands. They come to believe that what they do is "just a job," an economic necessity, a way to put food on the
table. Nothing more.
When trying to motivate employees, many practice owners mistakenly think that everyone is motivated in the same way. But motivations
differ. For example, some people prefer a variety of tasks during the day. Others prefer a fixed routine.
The solution to this employee motivation dilemma is simple. Ask your team members what motivates them to do their job better.
They'll gladly tell you.
Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is a speaker and writer based in Roslyn, N.Y. His latest book is 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing, and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices (Jones and Bartlett, 2007).