How to motivate the unmotivated is a perennial problem in any business. The perfect business environment would provide highly motivated employees, every day, all the time. Unfortunately, this perfect situation exists in very few businesses. When employees come to work, they bring their individual personalities, personal problems, and individual stresses.
Many times, they have more to think about than their job responsibilities.
Obviously, everyone is motivated in a different way. Although money is the primary motivator for some employees, it's been shown to be secondary for most employees. For those valued employees in the latter group, perhaps the TEAMR concept is the answer...an acronym for train, engage, approach, mentor, and reward.
Train - Employees must be trained and, generally, want to be trained. They cannot start a job with little or no training and expect to succeed. Of course, this happens all the time in businesses both large and small. A lack of training often creates a very stressful environment for most new employees. Whatever motivation an employee had coming into the job is lost in short order.
Businesses spend time and money in recruiting, interviewing, testing, and checking references. The employee is hired, goes through some type of onboarding process, and then is left to learn the job on his or her own. Everything is great when things go well but when mistakes are made, guess who takes the blame? The employee, of course, who remembers the lack proper training and out the window goes motivation.
Engage - Employees must be engaged. There must be communication and dialogue so employees feel part of the business. Employees get excited when their ideas and suggestions are taken seriously. The “boss” doesn't always have the best insight or ideas. In fact, employees doing the actual work may have the best suggestions for improvement. Plus, employees lose motivation waiting around for the vice president's next 'divine intervention.'
Approach - Employees love to talk to management about everything imaginable…kids, family, vacations, promotions, other employees…you name it and someone wants to talk about it. Of course, if the boss is “hands off”, who are the employees going to talk to and about what? They just might talk to other employees about…guess what…maybe, how "unapproachable" the boss is. When empathy is absent, there is little hope that motivation will increase on its own.
Mentor – Although training is a critical factor in employee success, mentoring is equally important. Mentoring goes beyond 'job' training and focuses on 'career' training. Rather than just training an employee on the basics of a job, mentoring involves coaching, assisting, and advising someone less experienced with their professional growth. When employees feel valued as professionals, they value the organization.
Reward - Recognition is important to every employee. Some may not seek out recognition as much as others, but it's still a valued part of the work environment. While daily activities are normally focused on solving problems, don't forget to celebrate the victories and hard work. Seeing a coworker rewarded for an accomplishment often motivates others to strive for the same.