As a manager or business owner, are you more focused on the effort or the results? As a child, often we were taught that effort is everything…..does “just try your best” sound familiar? It could be argued that the results are the byproduct of the effort. However, there are thousands of examples where a business venture failed miserably even though it included intense effort.
When motivating your team, is the motivation geared towards greater effort or achieving a tangible goal? The problem with the question is that it implies that focus on effort and results are mutually exclusive. When motivating employees it must be recognized that no one approach fits all. In addition, there are often different departments that may be interdependent on each other but as a result of their compensation plans may have different influences. These influences must be recognized when observing and managing behaviors.
For example, regardless of the industry often there is a sales team and an operational team. The operational team’s job security is often based on the performance of the sales team originating business. The sales team is dependent on the operational team’s delivery of the product/service for which they just sold. Therefore, one could not exist without the other for any significant period of time.
With that said, the compensation of salespeople is often commission. Therefore, their personal income is based on results. Regardless of how hard they may (or may not) work, they are typically paid solely on the amount of product/service sold. Conversely, the operational staff is typically paid a salary or hourly basis. Therefore regardless of the actual results, the operational staff is paid (including overtime for their additional efforts). This is not to imply that operational staff does not work as hard because they are not on variable income. It merely means that understanding or not understanding these influences could alter one’s opinion of an individual’s behavior in certain situations.
The true challenge for the manager is effectively managing the dynamics of both teams while ultimately ensuring that the corporate goals are achieved. There are a few assumptions that could be costly. It should never be assumed that because an individual’s sole income is based on their results that they are self-motivated. A commission can definitely be a self-motivator, however, when a large transaction is lost at the eleventh-hour commission can be a huge de-motivator. That aggressive salesperson just became a victim of circumstances and if not managed adequately can fall quickly into a self-deprecating pity party. The once aggressive salesperson has been converted into the role of a non-productive victim.
Although a motivated sales team can generate significant production, they ultimately do not get paid until their operational team completes their job. As previously mentioned, the operational focus must be on the level of effort (while at the same time understanding the targeted results). One of the greatest challenges for a manager is the management of emotions and human behavior. As business spikes, the sales team often get excited and push operations in an effort to process quicker. Unfortunately, due to capacity issues, the process may be moving slower than sales team desires. The paradox is that the operational team is potentially working significantly more hours even though the results may not be reflecting their true efforts.
Thus, the manager must manage the impatience and frustration of the sales team while simultaneously manage the exhaustion and potential feelings of under-appreciation by the operational team – all the while keeping everyone highly motivated to give that extra bit of effort and achieve the required results.
The basic key to success in managing to effort or results is balance and over-communication. It is imperative that every employee understand the implications and impact on the other employees. The operational team needs to understand that the sales team behavior is the result of excitement and fear for their income. Sales must realistically observe and acknowledge the efforts of operations even though the results may not be coming as quickly as desired.
Ultimately, everyone should be working toward a common goal. Achieving that goal through the hard work, effort and results of the team usually are dependent on the leadership of the manager. Are you that leader?
Husband, father, coffee connoisseur and lover of all things hockey. At 51 I sometimes wonder have I done enough. I have been married to my best friend for 30 years. She knows all my faults and loves me anyway, As a father of “almost always” perfect boys, I am always surprised at what life has to offer. It is messy, scary, thrilling, and always fun.