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Motivating the Lower Ranked Clones October 6, 2007

Posted by Tariq Ahmed in Motivation.
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We’ve talked a lot about motivation, and our Google analysis tells us you’re craving more. We’ve covered motivation in past entries, which were more geared towards the professional. Motivating at that level is much easier with the higher salary, bonuses and other incentives that are at your disposal. But what about motivating the lower ranked troops? These employees aren’t your professional class, and you don’t have the leverage of higher salaries, yearly bonuses, vacation or benefits. These are your standard clones, working at minimum wage with low skills. Not everyone can instill motivation through genetic manipulation like the Empire does; for the rest of you, here are some tips.

Your standard clone may not consider their current job as a long-term career. If they aren’t capable of seeing the long-term benefits of hard work, then a yearly bonus/raise/promotion may seem centuries away. To combat this, provide smaller bonus/incentive to reward hard work in a much shorter time frame. Instead of a $500 bonus at the end of the year, offer a monthly or even weekly bonus if possible. This will give them something tangible to work for and they can reap their reward much sooner. Remember not all rewards have to be financial, they could be PTO-like, public recognition, a flexible schedule etc.

For clones that may not have the patience for yearly performance goals, try using metrics that are judged on a short time frame. Instead of quarterly or yearly goals for a team, set weekly or monthly goals. Feedback and guidance will be much sooner, and so will their satisfaction when they meet the goals. It is also important that the goals be easily achievable so they don’t become discouraged. Once the team can achieve an easy metric, continuously increase it.

Following the theme of shorter time spans, offer quicker rank/title promotions on a multi-step ranking system, so they can feel and be rewarded for their hard work.

For all of the above shorter time span rewards, offer smaller wage increases to help keep employees motivated.

Minimum wage jobs usually aren’t very glamorous, and the fear of losing the job isn’t a strong motivator (i.e. you don’t have too many sticks, mostly carrots). Another method is to build loyalty through a sense of team camaraderie, almost like a sense of a family commitment. Team building programs and developing more personal relationships can help to that end.

If you have more flexibility, offering assistance to an employee in times of need can help develop the above family spirit and loyalty. E.g. if an employee needs some time off, allowing that and holding their job can create a sense of loyalty when the employee returns.


Everyone is Unique August 15, 2007

Posted by Tariq Ahmed in Motivation.
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Our other entries discuss various methods of motivation; so today we’ll discuss the nuances of the human being.

When implementing motivational techniques we must remember every employee is different.  As a manager, you must discover the unique psyche of an employee and hone the techniques for them.  You must experiment with an individual employee to determine what makes them tick, and what they value.

Some may value strictly financial rewards, others value public praise, a fast career track, or other non-tangibles.

Spend some time getting know your employees, and experiment with various motivational methods.  Always remember, that while motivating may be part of your job; it shouldn’t consume all your time.  If it does, there may not be a problem with your methods, but a problem with the employee.


Not even the possibility of death is a motivator July 14, 2007

Posted by Tariq Ahmed in Motivation.

Is fear of death enough to motivate?

Nothing excites me more than using fear and death to motivate others, but even using my great powers of the darkside has its limitations.

Here’s something to consider:
• Health care consumes $1.8 Trillion/yr
• It’s consumed by a relatively small % of the population
• 80% the health care problems are the result of 5 behavioral issues (vs environmental, genetic, etc…).
• I.e… choices in the way we live.
• They are: smoking, drinking, eating, stress, and lack of exercise.
• Any one of those five can cause heart disease, which is a $100 000 procedure to fix.
• 600 000 people/yr have heart bypasses, and 1.3M/yr have angioplasties.
• The surgeries themselves cause even more issues down the line…
• Ultimately, the condition eventually kills them.

All of this could be avoided with a healthier lifestyle. So, when it comes to behavior modification and how hard it is for people to change… in this case the choice is a matter of “life or death”, they still opt for the death.

So when it comes to motivation, if the possibility of death isn’t enough to change someone, what tricks up your sleeve do you think you have to motivate someone?

For weak minded individuals Sith Lords use the force to mentally influence someone using suggestive powers, but as a non Sith Lord is all hope lost – what better than death motivator could you possibly have?

Emotions (Passion). It is the key to the Sith way of life, and something the Jedi continue to underestimate. In the above case you’re relying on logic, and the premise of probability.

You must appeal to someone’s emotional motivators. In the above case, 77% of subjects who took meditation and relaxation classes maintained lifestyle changes.

When it comes to business appealing to one’s ambitions, things they care about (e.g. training, career path), competitiveness (e.g. ranking someone above others, giving special perks that signal to others this persons superiority), insecurities (e.g. being at the bottom of a published ranking list, fear of failure, fear of electrocution by the Emperor).


Dealing with the inverse effect of motivation July 13, 2007

Posted by Tariq Ahmed in Managing Employees, Motivation.

You’ve spent months, maybe years, employing every trick in the book to motivate an employee but fail to get any kind of traction.

Not being a Sith Lord, you unfortunately won’t have the option of using the dark side of the force to electrocute them – instead you’re limited to more practical approaches.

Assuming you have tried all the Sith methods of motivation, its possible in some (hopefully rare) cases that this all completely backfires. First, if you have exhausted this kind of effort on someone who lacks potential or talent you deserve to be fed to the Panna Monster.

This process of employing every approach to motivate should only be reserved for those, who if you can achieve this seemingly miraculous breakthrough, possess unusually high levels of potential ability or a rare combination of extreme skills.

The problem of course is those skills and talents are worthless without the results. And because these hard to find skills are rare, you’re probably already paying a high premium for this individual. And because the skills are rare, you’ve probably created quite a dependency on such an individual as they’re probably the only one who knows how certain things work (aka a SPOK, single point of knowledge).

So this leaves you in a precarious situation as you’ve undoubtedly dug yourself an even deeper hole. And this is where your attempts at motivation (giving ownership, more power and control, positive praise, more galactic credits, Empire stock options, etc…) backfire, as you’ve conditioned the person in such a way that the less they do the more they get.

If you get to this point, you have to realize you have nothing to lose anymore. As Sith Lord Darth Welch once said, “looking back I’ve never regretted any of my decisions to let someone go.”

So going forward, you begin to progressively ramp up on being candid (as Darth Welch would say) about the situation. Put aside emotions, and be firm about what you expect.

Collaboratively maintain a list of tasks and their agreed upon due dates – do what you can to help them achieve it, but ultimately in the end… they’re either committed to achieving the goals or not.

If the goals are consistently not being achieved on time, it’s time to think about feeding them to the Panna Monster.

Training June 23, 2007

Posted by Tariq Ahmed in Motivation.
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From day one every employee of the Empire knows what is expected and conforms to those standards – the alternative isn’t attractive. During training, new employees are exposed to expectations and company culture, which sets the foundation for future employee performance.

During this critical time frame all expectations are fused into an employee from both formal and informal sources. For example, Storm Troopers work 84 hour per week, and they start that schedule from day 1. It’s very difficult to start an employee at less and then expect more from them in the future (especially without position or salary changes). Informally, they will pick up culture from existing employees, e.g. that a Storm Trooper shift is spent “standing around” for hours on end. If you expect more out of your employees, you must make sure they are well trained and have your expectations taught to them from the beginning.

Formal vs. Informal training: If your company doesn’t provide formal training, it is likely they will be asked to hit the ground running and usually train next to another employee or yourself. If you can manage it, you should train them yourself, so proper expectations and habits are learned. If they must them train with another employee, make sure you select the right role model for them to emulate.

Some areas of focus include,

Commitment: Schedules and time commitments for the position.
Responsibilities: These position-dependent duties should be clearly outlined.
Objectives: Position, Department and Company objectives.
Performance: How will it be measured and communicated?
Culture: Company culture and other expectations.


Get Your Hands Dirty June 23, 2007

Posted by Tariq Ahmed in Motivation.
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Another method of helping to motivate your employees is to show them you are capable and willing to do the dirtiest of jobs. For instance, when rebel scum attacked my Death Star, I didn’t just send my fleet into battle, I got into a tie fighter myself and showed I could do the dirty work.

Periodic examples can help inspire your employees, “If my boss can do this menial task, so can I”. Whether it’s personally stamping out rebels, or photocopying paper, getting dirty periodically can help motivate employees and earn their respect.


Ways to Motivate Employees June 22, 2007

Posted by Darth Sidious in Motivation.
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To ensure the continued dominance of the Galactic Empire requires the sustained productivity levels of the employees. One aspect of productivity comes from motivation.

Although it would be nice, but the reality is that most storm troopers aren’t self-motivated highly ambitious machines. And different intelligent organisms are motivated in different ways.

Financial reward is usually a factor, but it only goes so far, so you need to find out the unique combination that maximizes someone’s motivation.

Here are a few things to try:

Performance Bonuses: It’s the carrot at the end of the stick, and can only be given if a certain set of tasks have been accomplished. If the bonuses are implied to be guaranteed they lose their effectiveness. This can also be in the form of stock options (btw the Galactic Empire’s stock, EMPR, is at a 52 week high)

Public Performance Bonuses: Same as the above, but this bonus is in limited quantity, and you make it public knowledge who got it. It motivates people to be competitive enough to get it. And makes those who got it work extra hard to ensure they get it again because they like everyone knowing they won.

Quarterly Rankings: Rank all your staff from 1 to 5, and make it public so that people know where they stand. Those at the top feel pressured to maintain their dominance, and those near to the top are trying to get there. You CANNOT do the communistic thing of making everyone equal, that is a total de-motivator to your super stars, and for the weak they have no incentive to improve. Those at the lowest ranks need to be fed to the Panna Monster anyways, so it doesn’t matter if they become even more de-motivated.

Public Recognition: Some people really feed and chase the high of public praise, especially from top ranking officials and Sith Lords. The best part, is this is free. Though be careful not to over do it, it has to be as a result of people going above and beyond – not for just doing their job.

Free Food/Coffee/Drinks: This works particular well for technical staff.

Have the goal in sight: Employees need to see how their efforts are directly related to objectives at the top level. They can’t be working on something and not be sure of how it relates to the success of the organization.

The goal has to be reachable: You can’t have a goal that’s so far out into the future are so big that it’s difficult to visualize or emotionally relate to. For example at the low level ranks, we didn’t tell our commanders that we had a 15 year old plan to rule the empire; we focused on the next milestone, and that allowed people to get their minds around it.

Fear: This is personally my favorite. Knowing that if you don’t perform you’ll be fed to the Panna Monster is a great motivator. In some cases I may just electrocute someone for a minor mistake just to send a message to the others that failure and incompetence will not be tolerated. It could be as simple as having the person aware that their job is at stake.

Ownership: Let people own the areas they’re responsible for. It causes them to emotionally bond to that area of work, and result in having a sense of pride for its reputation.

Competition: Similar to some of the above, add ways to cause people to compete with each other. Either for money, recognition, prizes, etc… Keep a board up that has stars beside each person’s name, and you earn stars for significant achievements.

Darth Sidious