I believe that motivating is inspiring people to take action – Hopefully positive action. The ability to motivate comes naturally to some leaders but more are not blessed with the characteristic. Clearly, companies that have motivated coworkers produce better results and have less coworker turnover.
Assuming you would like having motivated coworkers and the results of those coworkers here is how we start. I doubt that many owners and leaders realize the opportunity they themselves have in getting their coworkers to behave in the manner they would like for them to behave. Those owners and other leaders do not realize how closely the coworkers are watching them. I’ve seen company after company where the coworkers actually emulate the owner, particularly if he or she has a lot of presence in the company.
Here is a principle I deeply believe in: “As an owner or leader in your company your beliefs, the issues you bring up in your discussions and in your presentations, the thoughts or opinions that you verbalize, certainly your attitude and your feelings will result in actions by your coworkers.” Now you can see why I say you have a great opportunity. Just remember that with this opportunity comes a tremendous responsibility.
Coworkers like to see the boss, either the owner or their leader. They want to see commitment from the top. Tom Peters’ and Bob Waterman’s book “In Search of Excellence” released back in 1982 is one of my all-time very favorite business books. In the book they talk about “Management by Walking Around” (MBWA). In my opinion it is an extremely effective management principle and I strongly believe in it. “Do you practice MBWA? If not it is a habit you can develop and it will contribute to coworker motivation.”
Effective leaders ensure rewards. Here is another good management principle: “Coworkers are motivated to take positive action and will do what you would like them to do if you will share in the rewards.” Before you determine that statement sounds selfish and probably expensive let me tell you what the five rewards are: 1. Recognition. 2. Self-esteem. 3. Spiffs (a form of commission). 4. Career growth. 5. Working for a good company.
1 – Recognition: For a long while this was a difficult thing for me to do and I don’t know why as I’ve always loved to be recognized. Practice the old saying: recognize people in front of others, discipline people in private. Recognizing people is not hard. Here are two examples: “Ken, thanks for going out to Mrs. Jones house late last night and taking care of her AC problem. We all know that she can be tough to work with and I really appreciate what you did”.
The other example is “Cindy, you do a great job of dispatching the service techs. You are always here and you have a great positive and enthusiastic attitude. You are a good influence on the techs. Thanks, I appreciate it.”
Think about this – your remark was true and Cindy knows it. You just made Cindy’s day and it only took a few minutes of your time.
Another habit I developed was to occasionally send a personal letter of thanks to a selected coworker’s home. It was not a card or a short note but a full page from the big boss.
I’ve seen contractor’s buildings with a sign designated the as the boss’s parking space. Instead, we had a sign that designated the Coworker of the Month’s parking space and I parked out at the end of the parking lot.
2 – Self-esteem: I believe we should be concerned about improving our coworkers’ esteem and how it can lead to motivation and improved positive results. It’s our job as leaders to help our coworkers feel better about themselves. Customers enjoy and appreciate being served by confident people with pride in what they are doing. Each coworker should be furnished a stock of your company’s business cards with their name printed on them. In addition to the cards contributing to a coworker’s self-esteem you can train the coworkers on the proper use of their cards as a method of contributing to sales. Bottom line – Professionals carry business cards and your coworkers are professionals!
3 – Spiffs: I always wanted our coworkers to earn a lot of money through our company’s spiff program. It means the company is getting business and making money and the coworkers are benefitting. I pay spiffs for the sale of residential service agreements, the renewal of the agreements, on the sale of various system enhancement products (accessories), on the sale of replacement systems, on sales leads leading to a presentation on a replacement system (whether or not the customer invests in the system) and on the sale of a duct cleaning job. Plus, coworkers can earn a spiff for introducing us to a new coworker candidate that we interview and hire.
Generally, in most companies spiffs are thought of as something only a service technician can earn. But, I believe it is important that you broaden the opportunity beyond just service technicians and make them available to all coworkers, although the techs certainly have greatest opportunity and will generally earn the most money from spiffs.
It is difficult to come up with spiff opportunities for installers however they do at times get a customer to invest in a system enhancement product. I did invent another way of helping them earn spiffs and at the same time save the company money. We perform a quality assurance audit after each replacement installation. If the job requires absolutely no corrective action and if it is neat and professional appearing the installation crew earns a spiff. We also have the customer complete a brief performance evaluation and based on the results of the evaluation the installers can earn another spiff.
4 – Career growth: I learned, the hard and expensive way, that everyone does not want to be a high achiever. Finally, I realized that some people just want to come to work when they are supposed to, put in good day’s work and go home at the normal quitting time. I did not understand that kind of thinking as I and many of the people I had chosen to be around me basically worked all of the time and we were driven to do our jobs better and keep growing the company. As a result I experienced far too much turnover. Finally I learned that the other people who were just doing their jobs and doing them well were supporting us in their way and I developed a deep appreciation of them.
In order to accommodate the career minded outside coworkers we developed both a Service and Maintenance Technician Wage Plan and a little later an Installer Wage Plan. The Service and Maintenance Wage Plan identified four classes of maintenance technicians and six classes of service technicians. Each of the classes had a matching wage rate and a brief description of the required skills. We also developed a technical test for each of the classes. The wage plan was always made readily available to all technicians and clearly laid out the way they could progress to higher pay grades if they wished to do so. We also used the tests to determine the wage for a newly hired technician.
Regarding career pathing, our maintenance techs were titled precision tune-up specialists who when first hired were a PTS 3 and were in training, they advanced to a PTS 2 who were doing unsupervised precision tune-ups, then to a PTS 1 who did what a PTS 2 did plus minor repairs. Next, they had four choices of a career change: move to a service technician 6, move to a sales position as comfort consultant, remain a PTS or move (if there was an opening) to a PTS Senior who performed all training for the PTS’s and supervised their work. Most PTS’s when first hired and in training thought the wanted someday to be service technician however after seeing what service techs did, their unpredictable hours and sometimes having to run service calls in the evenings and on weekends plus sometimes handling heavy items chose to remain a PTS. We sometimes had PTS’s with an average hourly wage rate of half what a good technician made actually at the end of the week because of their sales skills and spiffs make as much as a technician. The PTS’s had predictable work hours and days of the week, and they were not called out on service calls in evenings and on weekends. That’s mainly some of them chose to remain a PTS.
The wage plan was based purely upon technical skills. It has nothing to do with a technician’s ability to get customers to invest in ourroducts and services. You can do that quite well with your spiff program. The bottom line is this: There are three ways a technician can make more money. The first is to improve their technical skills and ask to be tested for the next class with a matching higher wage rate, the second is to get more customers to invest in the company’s products and services and earn spiffs. The third is to do both of the above two methods.
As I previously mentioned we also developed later an Installer Wage Plan structured in a similar way to Service and Maintenance Wage Plan.
Working for a good company: Although most of us haven’t thought about it in this way actually working for a good company is quite a reward in itself. Frankly, I believe that although there are a lot of contracting companies in our industry there are fewer good companies than there should be.
Incidentally, in my opinion my previous remark is not limited to only the HVAC industry.
A few years ago I read a renowned national consulting company’s detailed report on coworker job satisfaction within the home services industry. And, as an HVAC residential retail company you are in the home service business. When the coworkers were asked how well they liked their jobs the overall response was not pretty. A person spends a lot of time at their job. It’s a shame to be in the wrong company.
If you already have and are considering re-inventing your company or are considering founding and building a company if you will read two of my books, HVAC Spells Wealth and “More & New” HVAC Spells Wealth and then apply what you have read you’ll have a company where people actually look forward to coming to work. They’ll know that they can be heard, share and participate in open decision making, that they are being paid fairly, have a career path if they wish to progress and most importantly know they are truly appreciated. They will know that they have an opportunity to earn rewards and have access to quality training. When your company builds a reputation for having coworkers who are kept informed, have fun and enjoy their work you will attract high performers and will retain them. I think it is fantastic when coworkers are proud of the company where they work and tell others in the community. You can order the above mentioned books on our website www.ronsmithhvac.com.
If you’ve already read those two mentioned books including in the HVAC Spells Wealth book my outline and recommendations on recruiting, hiring, orientation, training, motivation and retention you obviously have made a significant investment of time, energy and money in each new coworker.
You deserve to be highly successful and build wealth. With all of that said I wish you the very best!