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Letters to a Young Manager

The Catered Lunch, #21
LTYM > Managing People -- How to Begin

Dear Sophie,
Why are you complaining about the small bonuses this year? You say they are not motivating your team to excel. The classic paper by Herzberg argued that money doesn't motivate; it's a maintenance factor (you need a certain amount to live and feel on par with you peers)[1]. Other things motivate people. And some of them are simple, inexpensive and fun.

When I ran a phone-based customer service department, we had a meeting to talk about beating our call goals. I asked them what they wanted. Someone had the hair-brain idea that if they beat their objectives, we would have a catered lunch in the office for the department so everyone could see. Another rep added that if they made their stretch goals, lunch would be served at their desks by waiters in tuxes. "OK," I said, "It's a deal."

They beat their stretch goals. The waiters serving them lunch in black-tie was a sight to behold, as was the looks of pride and satisfaction on the team's face. What they did was important, but more so they felt important, and recognized. And they talked about it for months. That's motivation.

[1] Frederick Herzberg, "One more time, how do you motivate employees", Harvard Business Review, 1968.



Team selected awards can be simple, inexpensive and powerful

Discussion Questions:

1) Would your organization allow such an award? Would you ask, or just do it?
2) What hair-brained rewards can you think of? Brainstorm with your team (and to jump-start the ideas, use Bob Nelson's "1001 Ways to Reward Employees," first edition, 1994.

For Further Reading:

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