ORLANDO, Fla. — A quality in employees that is perhaps even more
important than their ability is their willingness to accomplish their work, and
to do it well for the company. Strong leaders will succeed in identifying this
quality and encouraging employees to reach their peak performance.
But how can employers keep their employees motivated?
Motivation itself is an abstract concept, Russell J. Hornfisher, MS,
director of sales and marketing at Becker Orthopedics, said. That idea must
then be turned into a tangible action, and to accomplish that feat often takes
a bit of creative thinking.
Hornfisher presented this information at the
American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists 37th Annual
Meeting and Scientific Symposium.
|Russell J. Hornfisher|
There is not a pill that people can take to make them more productive,
Hornfisher said. “If there were, the inventor of that pill would be rich,
because we’re always looking for improvements in motivation.”
Even small improvements will do. Incremental changes in people’s
productivity can make a tremendous difference to a company’s bottom line.
A 2% increase in productivity is considered astronomical, Hornfisher told
O&P Business News.
In his years of experience, he has found that what employees often need
most to increase their productivity is a change in leadership; however, that
scenario has the potential to have the opposite effect as well.
“You change the person at the top and you’re going to lose a
number of employees and you’re going to gain a number of different
employees. Half the organization is going to be different because of that
change, just based on that person at the top,” he said.
Hornfisher reviewed the main factors business owners should consider to
affect their employees’ productivity.
“Statistically, as we see it today, there are four things that have
the greatest impact on attitude, motivation and accomplishing greater
outcomes,” he said.
First, he said that employers never should underestimate the power of
listening to what their employees have to say. Something so simple has an
immense impact on their self-esteem. When an employer listens to
employees’ opinions and ideas, the employees feel that they are
contributing, which makes them want to work harder, pay attention more and,
ultimately, continue to contribute.
“They say the good decisions are made by one person; the great
decisions are made by a person who takes the time to listen to a lot of
input,” Hornfisher said.
Next he said the need for training at all levels of employment. Most
people, he said, prefer to complete tasks they are comfortable with, and will
repeat actions that result in positive feedback and rewards.
“People will not take on more challenging tasks if they don’t
feel comfortable with that task, or if they don’t know they’re going
to be successful,” he said. “Failure is a real problem for most
people. They don’t like [failing] — it doesn’t feel good —
so they won’t do it.”
Furthermore, employees’ ease in completing tasks will come across
to patients. For example, if the person greeting people at the front desk, who
also handles appointments and referrals, appears unsure of his or her role,
patients will pick up on that uncertainty, and apply that perception to the
entire practice. Since the relationship between patients and their O&P
practice is based on trust in their practitioners’ ability, “every
step of the process from there on out is going to be unsuccessful,” he
Perhaps one of the most significant steps in motivating employees is to
work together to set realistic goals and make a point to review these
frequently. People who have clear goals for the future are more successful in
accomplishing tasks than people who have only a vague idea of what they want to
achieve, he said. Additionally, competition among employees to reach those
goals serves as further motivation.
“Everyone understands where we want to go, where we’re headed,
what their specific jobs are [and get] feedback on a frequent basis about
that,” Hornfisher said.
It is important to identify these goals ahead of time, and to keep them
within sight, because “what you think about is what you become,” he
Finally, no gesture is more important to motivating employees — or
anyone else, for that matter — than recognition for an achieving a goal,
accomplishing a task or producing a positive outcome. Employers can drastically
improve the climate of their practice by acknowledging employees’
accomplishments with thank you notes or award, however small and
He urged business owners to remember that “the single most powerful
thing is just a simple thank you,” he said. — by Stephanie Z.
Employee’s ideas can be critical for getting a complete picture of
how your business is being perceived in the marketplace as well as to your own
effectiveness in dealing with others in your organization. Encouraging feedback
and soliciting ideas is rewarding for both parties involved.
Genuine appreciation starts with careful listening involving eye
contact, repeating in your own words the ideas expressed by others so that they
and you know that you understand them and sometimes just sitting down to listen
so that the speaker knows you are not ready to bolt out of the room as soon as
they finish speaking to you.
Giving credit and praise for ideas or results to who it is due should be
done in a timely manner – it’s never too soon; and if appropriate in
front of others so that fellow employees can know that their contributions are
— Jon Shreter, CPO
O&P and member, O&P Business News Practitioner Advisory