Summary of 12 by Robert Wagner

BookSummaryClub Blog Summary of 12 by Robert Wagner

When you lack motivation, getting up in the morning can be difficult. No matter what career you’re in, there comes a time when motivation wanes. But what can you do to get out of this funk? And if you’re a business owner or manager, how do you prevent this from happening to your staff? That soul-crushing emptiness that you experience when you lack motivation is one thing, but watching someone else suffer through and not knowing how to help can be even more devastating. 

So, what do you do to boost motivation in the workplace? How can you get yourself excited to get up in the mornings and help your staff members feel the same way? World renown analytics and advice firm, Gallup sought to answer these questions. This book summary will allow you to also tap into their results.

In this book summary readers will discover:

  • The 12 elements to great management
  • Why employees should understand their jobs fully
  • The importance of feedback and recognition
  • Allowing employees to be part of the problem-solving process
  • The desire to develop

Key lesson one: The 12 elements to great management

When Gallup set out how to keep employees happy and productive, they did not know what to expect. As any manager knows, that’s one of the hardest tasks they have as employees can differ greatly. However, Gallup spent years conducting surveys with both managers and employees to get to the core elements of motivation in the workplace. 

What they noticed first, unsurprisingly, is that happy employees are key to productivity and overall company success. This is because happy employees are less prone to leaving their jobs and they show up to work more often than unhappy employees. This attendance rate was shown to be 27 per cent higher for happy employees. Unhappy employees, in contrast, were 31 per cent more likely to quit their job and also more likely to get injured at work. These statistics have a great impact on the company’s bottom line as it takes quite a bit of time and money to cover the lost productivity in all these scenarios. 

As a result of the millions of surveys conducted by Gallup, they found 12 key statements which employees agree with if they are happy and motivated in their jobs. These are:

  1. I know what is expected of me at work
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work
  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count
  8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important
  9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work
  10. I have a best friend at work
  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress
  12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow

These 12 statements identified thus give managers the key elements to great management. Ensuring their employees can answer these questions positively will foster a happy, motivated and therefore productive workplace.

Key lesson two: Why employees should understand their jobs fully

In order for employees to function well in their positions, there are a few things they need. They have to be aware of their job completely and all that it entails. In terms of how they contribute to the company’s goals, what the expectations are of them and that they have everything required to perform well. This deals with statements 1,2,8 and 12 listed above. 

Employees need to know how their job fits into the grand scheme of things in the organization. They need to know how their work will help the company achieve its goals. This is a simple fact that is often overlooked. If an employee is able to see how their work contributes directly to the company, they will be more motivated to work better. An example of this was when Nancy Sorrells was hired to help The Winegardner & Hammons hotel in Dallas. None of the employees she interacted with knew how their jobs contributed to the company’s overall success! To rectify this she went over the company’s mission statement with the employees and showed them how each role fit into it. This small step resulted in employees becoming more motivated and improving in a few short months.

The other part of their jobs that employees need to understand is how their job is fulfilling a purpose. Their jobs need to have meaning. This may seem like a difficult task, especially if employees feel detached from the company’s greater mission. However, it is mostly about perspective. A clear example of this is a company that produces electronic tablets. A clear cut goal is just to make a device that sells well. But, if managers were to give their employees the proper perspective of the sale of tablets providing children better access to education, it would make all the difference. 

Employees also need to feel as if they are part of a ‘tribe’. This means that all coworkers form a cohesive unit with shared goals. When employees feel a part of a tribe, the entire workplace benefits from the positive effects. They feel connected to one another and are able to work together more effectively. Managers can also position themselves as tribe leaders by actively being a part of the group and showing genuine interest in employees.

Key lesson three: The importance of feedback and recognition

Know what’s the quickest way to boost productivity in the workplace? Make sure that your employees receive regular praise for work well done. This can immediately increase productivity and revenue by up to 20 per cent! 

Giving employees recognition is an easy way to make them happier. It also makes them want it to keep happening, so they will keep working at their best to receive recognition and praise once again. It’s positive reinforcement at its best. Employees who do not receive this are also more likely to quit their jobs. You can see how this makes sense as they have no incentive to keep working.

An important thing for managers to remember though is that praise should be given in a one-on-one situation. If it is done in a group setting, it creates jealousy and resentment amongst a team. You definitely do not want to break team spirit amongst your employees so be sure to set up regular meetings with individuals in order to give them feedback and recognition.

Key lesson four: Allowing employees to be part of the problem-solving process

During the industrial revolution, a man named Frederick Winslow Taylor came up with a way to make labour more efficient. To improve employee performance, all planning and thinking should be handled by the managers. All employees had to do was come to work and do as they were told. This ‘scientific’ approach to management worked during the industrial revolution but in today’s world, it is highly demotivating and frustrating to employees. This is why it is such a shame that some companies still adhere to this approach just to avoid conflict.

Your employees are not robots. This approach will not end well for anyone if it is implemented. Employees work best if they are able to voice their opinions and concerns when they work within a team. This is extremely effective during problem-solving situations. Take for example a children’s hospital in Toronto that faced a reduction in their MRI budget. MRIs can often take long as patients need to remain completely still during the process. If they move, the images need to be retaken. Now, can you imagine trying to tell kids to stay still whilst you put them in a large and loud machine? With a reduced budget, they literally could not afford to be patient with the kids. Technician’s suggested that the easiest option would be to sedate the kids. Nurses, however, were not fond of the idea. To try and come to a compromise, manager Susan Jewell set a day-long meeting with representatives from both teams. In this way, everyone felt included in the problem- solving process. In the end, it was concluded that the kids would still have to be sedated but the nurses could decide which kids would not need sedation.

Key lesson five: The desire to develop

Whether we are conscious of it or not, our minds have a natural urge to develop and grow. It’s basic evolution, you have to get ahead to survive. Our early years are spent learning daily, from walking to talking, reading, writing, driving – we learn constantly. So, when we leave school or college, why do we think that the need to learn is no longer there?

This desire to learn continues when we begin to work. An employee who continues to develop in the workplace will be motivated to work better. They will not only be grateful for the skills they attain, but they will also want to continue their development. In fact, companies who provide their employees with opportunities to learn and grow outperform companies who don’t by 10 per cent.

Knowing that the company they work for values them and their development is a core element to motivation for employees. 

The key takeaway from 12 is:

There are 12 statements that every motivated and happy employee agrees with. Managers have to actively work towards ensuring that they are providing their employees with all that they require to meet these 12 statements. Happy and motivated employees will lead to a happy and motivated workplace and will benefit the company overall by increasing productivity and revenue. 

How can I implement the lessons learned in 12:

Go through the 12 statements and establish how you can help your employees achieve an agreement with each statement. Also, ensure that you provide feedback and give recognition to your employees in regular one on one meetings. These meetings will allow honest conversation and also enable you to ascertain how you can help your employee grow in their position.

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