Greenhouse Canada

Business Management
Motivating and Managing Staff

April 24, 2008
By Brian Minter


In his book, ‘Good to Great,’ Jim Collins talks about how many companies are ‘good,’ but, for numerous reasons, fail to make the jump to ‘great.’ Two of the key reasons are: leadership and the ‘right’ people.

In his book, ‘Good to Great,’ Jim Collins talks about how many companies are ‘good,’ but, for numerous reasons, fail to make the jump to ‘great.’ Two of the key reasons are: leadership and the ‘right’ people.

One of the most difficult tasks today is not just finding people, it’s finding the ‘right’ people for your business. Once you do, the challenge of leadership is coaching them to create greatness within the company. Jim claims that these folks need minimal motivation because they are, in fact, the ‘right’ people.


Leadership is the key to inspiring everyone to reach their optimum potential and in the process, creating a better business. One of the most important traits in a leader is passion – a leader who lacks passion will not inspire anyone. The passion to create an ever-improving business, along with a clear vision of the company’s future direction, is something folks can really buy into and eagerly want to be part of. It is, perhaps, one of the best motivators.

Communication is crucial. We all need to know how others think we’re doing. School report cards (like ‘em or hate ‘em) always provided us with a sense of how we were measuring up. We knew what it took to go from a ‘C’ to a ‘B’. Performance evaluations are report cards. They can be a good exercise, but they’re something most folks dread. One of our consultants suggested using a non-confrontational, non-negative learning approach, such as asking, “What’s working well?” and “What needs improving?”  It’s important to ask questions, to listen well and to treat evaluations as an opportunity to learn about other folk’s perceptions of their jobs in the company. The fact you do evaluations shows both a healthy concern for your staff and for the company. Attitude, tone and sincerity make all the difference, and done well, evaluations can be an important motivator.

Staff Expectations
The ‘right’ people have expectations as well. Yes, money is an issue, and compensation should match not only the industry standard, but also reflect skill levels and their role in making the company profitable. Higher sales, greater efficiency and better buying and inventory control are all measurable quantities. Profit sharing can also be important. It doesn’t usually result in huge dividends, but the sense of being rewarded for working harder and smarter to make the company more successful is a huge motivator. Unexpected rewards, presented for something well done and the recognition that goes with it, are effective motivators as well. Tickets to dinner with their significant other, a day off with pay or a gift of a new plant that they love are things folks really appreciate.

Another expectation of the ‘right’ people is that the leadership not only rewards better performance, but also corrects non-performance. Weak links that insidiously drain the overall success of the business and put more work on other folks must be dealt with. If they are not, some of the ‘right’ people will begin to leave. Good people have the fully justified expectation that management will set and maintain a standard of performance.

One of the key things that the ‘right’ people want is responsibility. Heading a department with a budget, sales targets, buying responsibilities and display merchandising expectations offer great management training, and it’s also a valuable measuring stick. Good coaching from the leadership is essential to help these people achieve their goals.

I love Jim Collins’ terms: ‘leadership’ as opposed to ‘management’ and the ‘right people’ instead of ‘staff.’ It implies role playing with a high expectation of success. This is your business, after all, and unless it’s well run, it has no future.