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Top 7 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know About Employees

By Guy Harris

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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.” So, 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, so 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. 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 or 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 really do 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 same studies that show that money is not a prime motivator normally find that people want their supervisor to show appreciation for their contribution at work. Show your appreciation and value their input and 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 their 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.

Guy Harris is a Relationship Repairman and People-Process Integrator. His background includes service as a US Navy Submarine Officer, functional management with major multi-national corporations, and senior management in an international chemical business. As the owner of Principle Driven Consulting, he helps entrepreneurs, business managers, and other organizational leaders improve team performance by applying the principles of human behavior.

Guy co-authored "The Behavior Bucks System(tm)" to help parents reduce stress and conflict with their children by effectively applying behavioral principles in the home. Learn more about this book at http://www.behaviorbucks.com

Learn more about Guy at http://www.principledriven.com

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Article Submitted On: April 01, 2005