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I need a volunteer …

Motivate employees to go beyond the call of duty

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by on
in Leaders & Managers,Management Training,People Management

As lean-and-mean companies keep asking more of their beleaguered employees, you may find yourself goading your team members to take on work that falls outside their normal jobs.

You don’t have to beg and plead. Instead, approach your workers as potential volunteers who can choose to reap rewards for giving more than is required.

Don’t assume all you need to do is pay your employees more for their extra time and effort. In a survey of 1,500 managerial, technical and professional workers by Response Analysis in Princeton, N.J., the most-cited reason employees gave for putting in voluntary effort was having responsibility for the results of their work. Individual monetary reward ranked far lower.

Here’s how to persuade employees to give of themselves for the greater good of the organization—and to feel good about doing it:

Connect work with results. People are more apt to give to charities when they’re told a $25 donation will pay for something specific. The same goes when you’re motivating employees. Tell them that by volunteering to take a four-hour training session on their own time, for example, they can contribute more effectively to one of the company’s major goals—and raise their career prospects.

Provide a choice. Let workers decide to what extent they want to volunteer. The most committed employees who want to get ahead will step forward.

That’s better than forcing your staffers to do more, more, more. Even if you provide extra pay for a mandatory extra load, they will feel powerless—not motivated— by the escalating demands of the job.

Provide access to upper management. You’ll promote a voluntary spirit if you let the most dedicated workers build relationships with senior executives and other influential players. For instance, invite your best volunteers to mingle with bigwigs at a celebratory luncheon. Or put them on cross-department teams with high-level managers to give them added exposure.

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