How CEOs Motivate Employees

GoDaddy has a secret weapon when it comes to motivating its sales team: it's a cash machine. When a salesperson hits a certain number, he or she is invited to step into a booth full of money. With a fan blowing the money around, the sales rep has 15 seconds to grab as much money as they can.

“They can make 600, 700 bucks,” says CEO Blake Irving. It’s just one of the many ways Irving rewards the company’s 3,500 customer-care agents. There are also NASCAR races, special events with inspirational speakers like Aron Ralston (the rock climber who cut his own arm off when it got pinned under an 800-pound rock), and even dinners with the CEO. (Business Insider)

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, spoke out Monday in response to a Sunday New York Times article calling the company a “bruising” place to work that encourages employees to tear apart each other’s ideas. In a letter to Amazon employees, CEO Jeff Bezos wrote, “I do not recognize this Amazon and very much hope you don’t, either.” Whatever the company is doing, it’s getting results.

What motivates employees to perform? It’s a topic researchers have been studying since the 1950s. While the list has changed over time, researchers have found most employees need some things beyond a paycheck. “There’s not a No. 1 motivator out there, but there are several that are always in first, second or third place,” said Mick Sheppick, a professor of human resources at the University of St. Thomas School of Business. He says the top three, in no particular order, are: 1) Is the employee being challenged? 2) Is he or she being given responsibilities? 3) Is there some autonomy and the ability to make one’s own decisions? Sheppick also says money is generally on the Top 5 List when it comes to motivators. (CBS Minnesota)

Baird’s CEO Paul Purcell advises leaders to incentivize their people and give them space to run. His mother’s early death and a critical illness of his own contributed to Purcell’s view of the world and the way he leads his firm’s 3,200 professionals. Purcell, 68, readily admits to pushing people hard to succeed, much as he’s pushed himself. But he’s also eager to reward accomplishments, and wants everyone at the $152 billion employee-owned wealth management company to view their role as critical to the firm’s achievement.

“I am all about transparency,” Baird told Investment News. “People want to know what the score is, they want to know what’s going on and that their efforts can make a difference. I call that transparency — good, bad and ugly. Everyone knows where you are, what the stakes are and what’s expected of them, and it’s very collaborative. Really talented people want to make a difference, and they want to be dealt with in a transparent and direct way. They also want to be heard. If you do all those things, they will feel not only empowered, they will feel an obligation to do that.”

Two years ago, Forbes contributor Victor Lipman provided some advice that still stands today:

1. Align individual economic interests with company performance
2. Take a genuine interest in the future path of an employee’s career
3. Take a genuine interest in their work-life balance
4.  Listen
5. Do unto others as you would have done unto you

With the increasing talent shortage, it’s important for CEOs to ensure that they have hired the right people, and keep them happy and loyal for the long-term. These tips can help.



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