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If You Want To Know Ask Published: Sunday, December 3, 2000 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

Employees perform better when they get what they believe they deserve based on their performance. The only reliable way to determine exactly what this means is to approach them and share the behavioral requirements and the outcomes to be obtained. The idea is to look at employees as the best source of solutions to their own motivation and performance problems, openning channels of communication and transforming the feedback into a unique opportunity for setting things right in the workplace. The aim is to establish the connection between motivation and performance, using three behavioral components of confidence, trust and satisfaction. Several researches as Enos, Green and Hacker has addressed this topic.

Using motivation management is an easy task, especially with the contingency approach as a way to handle motivation and performance problems depending on the situation. The scientific proposition is the following: the way you respond is contingent on what the employee says and does. The magic is to let the issues come to you, recognizing problems when they first appear, and quickly responding to what you see and hear. Some examples are: "What does that sigh mean?", "You seem upset", "What happened?", "You look discourage". It is very important to be alert for early warning signs and to check them out.

With motivation and behavioral problems the clock is always ticking. The sooner you find the problem, the sooner you can start working on it. Don`t use canned responses, just use quick-on-the-feet responses to the situation. Use requirements and action guidelines.

The strategy is the following:

  • Identify the problem, be it confidence, trust and/or satisfaction.
  • Uncover the causes.
  • Discover solutions that will work.
  • Turn to the employee for answers, remembering that all of the information is within the employee. The contingency approach to motivation management appeals to managers who prefer dealing with problems informally as they arise; enjoy the challenge of being confronted, making quick decisions, taking calculated risk; find excitement in difficult, unpredictable situations; and like the flexibility of not being limited to a set way of doing things.

This method has a three-step process. Step 1 - Stop, look and listen. The point is that focusing on the person is essential if you want to see and hear all that stands before you. Keep your eyes and ears open. Spot those confidence, trust and satisfaction problems. Notice employees who are moping, dawdling, or brooding; listen for the curt comment, the hint of hostility, the sign of frustration. All are signals that something is amiss. These are the ways the employees quietly tap on the door, hoping it will open, wishing for an understanding heart and a helping hand. Step 2 - Respond to the situation, as it comes on the spot. There is no set way to react, no behavioral standard format. The way to respond is contingent on the situation. The goal of this step is to open the door, get the employee talking, and get the ball rolling toward a solution. Even if it does not work, you still get benefits. The employee knows you were willing to listen. This will be an asset later. Step -3 Follow through and keep the ball rolling. Set your compass on problem, cause and solution. The goal is to get the employee to identify problems, point out causes, and suggest solutions that will work for them. Think, people, think..

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