Dec. 29 2006 11:33 AM

The quickest and most common answer to what causes motivation is financial incentives. This, I suppose is true. However, causing motivation is not the problem, it's keeping everyone motivated on a daily basis that seems to stump managers or often gets overlooked altogether.


Financial incentives are hard for companies to implement with today's slow economy when cash flow is often a problem. True motivation comes from within and will produce a steady stride as opposed to the occasional sprints. As managers, we must see ourselves as coaches in the game of life. If you do not think that it is all about winning, then you have never been a part of a winning team or brought home the championship trophy. You must have the attitude of a winner in order to achieve success. As any good coach knows, winning is not always reflected by the scoreboard. You have to know in your heart and mind what winning is to you. It is your responsibility to get your players ready to win. It is often disputed that the team is only as good as its coach or that the coach is only as good as his team. The one thing that can't be argued is it takes everyone working together to win. The coach must make sure that his team is ready to play and that everyone knows where the field is. To be a part of the team, the employees must be willing to show up dressed and ready to play ball.


Let's begin by discussing the two behaviors that cause bad sportsmanship and poor performance in the workplace: managers venting down and gossip.


Never, at any given time, is it acceptable for a manager to vent down to the employees. Negative actions are not beneficial to anyone involved. A 60-second lashing about your superiors will leave a permanent negative impression on those that hear you. The employees will not have enthusiasm about their jobs, and the morale of the company will cause earnings to suffer. The effects of a negative attitude can be seen in the following example: A person that badmouths his preacher every Monday morning should not wonder why nobody wants to visit his church the following Sunday.


Gossip will never be eliminated from the workplace or our lives. However, it can be minimized within your environment. First, you must never participate in any way, shape or form. Yes, listening is participating! Gossip is very often entertaining but never productive and always damaging. It threatens the integrity of the team and its ability to function together. Also, gossip should not be tolerated during any part of the workday. These situations must be addressed head on as they arise, not as they come to a head.


A coach doesn't win games by running across home plate himself. In fact, he isn't even allowed on the field during the game. He must learn how to maximize each player's potential in order to score big. In the work place, it is up to the manager to maximize the potential of his most valuable asset the employees. A coach must always lead his team by example. A good coach is always positive, organized, appreciative and respectful. You must know that every day is going to be a good day from the moment you put your feet on the floor. You must understand that things will come up and that things will go wrong. You must look at issues as challenges not as problems. Athletes only get better when they are challenged and pushed to their limits. A game won in the bottom of the ninth with two outs builds more character than a shutout. If being positive is not your natural attitude and you cringe at the thought of something going wrong, you must change your outlook on life. You can start with something as simple as a smile and a "good morning" to those you come in contact with when you arrive at the office. If you are cringing and stressing, you are causing others to have undue anxiety that is going to interfere with their ability to meet the objectives you have established. Your discipline and corrections will be more welcomed when delivered with a positive and professional attitude.


A winning team is led by an organized individual. Organization is not always reflected by the appearance of the top of your desk. Mental organization is the game plan that you have in your head at all times. A coach must know when it's time for a sacrifice fly or a bunt down the third base line. You must think ahead, plan for the unexpected and always know "Who's on first." The stability of your game plan is directly related to the frequency of your victories. Consecutive wins will take your employees to a level of stability that will allow them to perform at maximum levels.


You must be appreciative and respectful to everyone. As stated earlier, employees are your most valuable resource. You never go to the stadium to sit in the stands and watch the ballfield. Regardless of the value of your inventory, your company doesn't make money after everyone goes home at the end of the day. Each employee must be treated as an individual and understand that you would not expect anything that you wouldn't do or haven't already done. Each position on and off the field deserves MVP recognition. For example, often overlooked is the batboy; however, if he doesn't hustle and remove the bat from the home plate area, the base runner headed home to beat the throw at the plate could get severely injured. You must be grateful for the ones in the office that are often taken for granted. This includes the person who is cleaning the toilets and sweeping the floors. What kind of attitude would your employees have if you expected them to use restrooms that resembled those at a run-down gas station in the middle of nowhere? An individual is more likely to step up to the plate during a crisis when he is treated with respect on a daily basis. When a player on your team feels appreciated, a desire is created to swing harder and run faster. In the workplace, an individual will be more willing to complete the tasks and move on to the next project when he is recognized for his efforts.


Motivation results from the positive energy that is created by the coach's behavior regardless of how the team performed, the condition of the field or the points on the scoreboard. In other words, if you have your head right and your heart right there is no stopping you or the team that you are coaching Score Big!


Jane Sauls is with Twelve Point Inc., located in Carrollton, Georgia. For additional information, please visit the Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association (MFSA) on the Web at