The Top 7 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know About Employees

As I work with clients to strengthen their teams and to make their businesses more profitable, I often encounter some serious misunderstandings of human nature. These misunderstandings usually lead business leaders in the wrong direction when they attempt to inspire their employees to perform at a higher level. Fortunately, you can avoid these pitfalls if you understand a few key points about the people you lead.

1) They are not motivated by money alone

In numerous studies conducted over the last fifty or sixty years, researchers have concluded money is not the prime motivator for most people. Yes, people work for money -- but it is not their biggest motivator.

One famous model of behavior ? Maslow's hierarchy of needs ? yields a clue as to why this is true. In summary, Maslow's hierarchy says that all of us have five basic needs (physiological, safety & security, social, esteem, and self-actualization). According to Maslow, "a need once met no longer serves to motivate." If you have your physiological needs met (food, shelter, & clothing), more of the same will not inspire you to work harder.

Employers help people meet their physiological needs with money. More money will not necessarily get people to work harder.

It is true that some people work harder for more money, but many will not. If you want to inspire high-level performance, you've got to dig deeper. You must work to understand what motivates each person on your team.

2) They don't want their worth determined by the number of hours they are at work

I once heard a business owner say, "An entrepreneur is someone who will work 80 hours a week for themselves so that they don't have to work 40 hours a week for someone else." I have found this statement to be very accurate.

Many people believe that what motivates them also motivates others. When it doesn't, they often get frustrated and confused.

Remember that your business is your dream, not your employees' dream. They probably want to do a good job, but they don't want you to evaluate them based on the number of hours they spend in your business. Reward them based on the quality and/or quantity of work they produce. Reward them for the service they provide to customers. Don't use "face time" as a measure of their worth.

3) They want to feel like part of a team

Most people want to be part of something great. Create an environment where people feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves, and they will respond favorably. Reward individual performance, but build the team. Avoid competition within your team at all costs. You want your team competing together to win your business competition. You don't want them fighting each other.

4) They want you to respect them

I've seen many entrepreneurs start a business to avoid an organization or a person who treats them with disrespect. Funny -- I often see these same people treat their employees with disrespect when they become the boss. What happened?

5) They want you to value their opinions

The studies that show money is not a prime motivator also find that people want their supervisor to show appreciation for their contribution at work. Show your appreciation and value their input. Your employees will truly be your greatest asset.

6) They want to make a difference

People like to do things that matter. People need to feel like their contribution helped the team. Show your people how their work made a difference to team results, and you'll likely tap into their internal motivators.

7) They want your business to succeed

Most people realize that they are unemployed if your business fails. They don't want that any more than you do. Listen to them. Learn from their insights. They may not have your monetary investment in the business, but they do have a big stake in your success.

There you have it. Seven things you need to know about employees. As I look back over the article, I see that it begs the question "What about people who don't want to be part of a team?" or "What about the employee who doesn't want to make a difference?" I know they're out there, but I don't believe they represent a majority of the population. If you have an employee who doesn't care, why are they still your employee? Don't waste your time on people who really don't want to contribute. Find someone who does and apply these seven tips to working with them.

Copyright 2005, Guy Harris

You may use this article for electronic distribution if you will include all contact information with live links back to the author. Notification of use is not required, but I would appreciate it. Please contact the author prior to use in printed media.

About the Author:

Guy Harris is the Chief Relationship Officer with Principle Driven Consulting. He helps entrepreneurs, business managers, and other organizational leaders build trust, reduce conflict, and improve team performance. Learn more at http://www.principledriven.com

Guy co-authored "The Behavior Bucks System TM" to help parents reduce stress and conflict with their children. Learn more about this book at http://www.behaviorbucks.com

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