Why leaders should link employees' success to personal motivators

Employee performance can be linked to an organization's missions, office goals, customer service or team performance. Photo credit: Getty/Chombosan

If you want to improve employee performance, think about your daily (or “rolling”) conversations with employees. No better opportunity exists to reinforce and help refine excellent employee performance. You have the chance to discuss new projects, talk about overdue assignments, give updates about completed tasks and more. Unfortunately, many managers miss these opportunities and instead try to influence or control teams with the counterproductive “FUD” method, i.e., using explicit or implicit threats of fear, uncertainty or doubt. Leaders instead should use rolling conversations to reinforce the importance of meeting or exceeding goals by linking an employee’s performance to a specific workplace result. How? Read below for some in-depth guidance.

A results-based approach to rolling conversations works because it allows you to explain the value of positive performance from different perspectives. The idea is to align results that are important to the organization to outcomes that are important to employees.

If employees react negatively or passively to one perspective, you can use a different result to illustrate your performance conversation. In the end, it means you do not have to say “do it because I say so” or “because it’s your job.”

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Examples of Linking Employee Performance to Results Requested

  • “When you submit your reports on time (improvement you want employee to make), we are able to meet our deadlines for submitting the monthly reports to the field office (result of improvement).”
  • “Entering customer feedback into the database by 5 p.m. every day (improvement you want employee to make) helps us achieve our strategic goal of quickly responding to guest issues (result of improvement).”
  • "When you order the janitorial supplies on time (improvement you want employee to make), that allows the maintenance employees to do their job in a timely manner (result of improvement).”
  • “If you attend the community meetings (action you want employee to take), you will have an opportunity to interact with all of the senior managers in the company (result of action).”
  • “By participating in the project (action you want employee to take), you will have an opportunity to learn more about the organization’s strategic plan (result of action).”

At the individual level, you can link employee performance to desirable outcomes such as greater autonomy, less stress, reduced workloads or increased visibility. These results emphasize personal and professional interests.

Using explicit or implicit threats of fear, uncertainty or doubt is considered counterproductive. Photo credit: Getty Images/AndreyPopov

On a broader level, employee performance can be linked to organization mission, office goals, customer service or team performance. These require employees to look at the larger impact of their performance results. Just make sure you include results that reflect personal interests of your employees as well as results that are important to your organization.

Here are some specific examples:

  • Link Performance to Job Enrichment. Employees want to feel that what they do is important. Doing more challenging work or working with different employees are just two examples. Investigate the things employees like about where they work. Determine what makes them excited. Use this information to explain how effective employee performance can lead to greater job enrichment.
  • Link Employee Performance to Learning and Development. Consider your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. Would new knowledge, skills or abilities be helpful? Or, maybe the employees can obtain certification in a job-related area. Use this information to show how positive employee performance can result in enhanced capabilities.
  • Link Employee Performance to Career Advancement. Think about how certain actions give employees greater opportunities for advancement on the job. Perhaps you can consider possibilities for a job rotation or a high-profile assignment. Use this information to connect employee interests to performance, highlighting the impact on upward mobility or desired lateral moves.
  • Link Employee Performance to Money and Rewards. Identify the monetary perks that exist for employees. Go beyond the regular paycheck. Include anything from cash payments to tickets to the theater. Use this information to link employee performance to financial rewards or other types of benefits.
  • Link Employee Performance to Other Employees’ Performance. Identify who employee performance impacts. Consider managerial staff, technical staff, support staff and others. Use this information to emphasize how one employee’s performance can positively or negatively impact another employee’s performance and results.
  • Link Employee Performance to Office Achievements and Results. Look at an organizational chart of your company, agency or association. Examine workflow processes and the products or services you provide to other offices or departments. Do they depend on materials or information from your employees? If so, consider what happens when they get what they need or when they don’t get what they need. Use this information to explain why effective performance is important.
  • Link Employee Performance to Organization Success and Results Measures. Think about how your organization measures success. Some organizations use sales quotas as a guide. Others track the acquisition of new customers. Look at strategic plans and operational goals for direct or indirect links. Use this information to explain the broad-level impact of doing or not doing certain activities.
  • Link Employee Performance to Guiding Principles. Look at your organization’s vision, mission and values statements. This information tells you the kind of fundamental practices that are important. Examine instructions on “how” employees should do things as well as “what” they should do. Also consider rules, regulations and policies. Use this information to support the importance of certain types of employee performance.

Keith Kefgen and James Houran are the CEO and managing director of Aethos Consulting Group, a hospitality-focused human capital advisory, and the authors of Loneliness of Leadership. They are also the founders of 20|20 Assess, a wholly owned subsidiary of Aethos Consulting Group and a proprietary suite of hospitality-specific HR and leadership software for performance management. Kefgen can be contacted at [email protected] and Houran can be reached at [email protected].