Sending a clear message, such as an assignment to an employee requires that we make sure that Six-Points are understood: WHO-WHAT-WHERE-WHEN-HOW & WHY. Sometimes we send mixed or unclear messages because we leave out one or more of these points. This can happen because we are pressed for time, we assume understanding or because we just don’t see the importance of that point. Failure to communicate any of these points could lead to failure, but one point in particular can really impact motivation. In most organizations, there are those tasks that nobody enjoys doing. They may be either repetitive or noxious, but they have to get done anyway. For example, some of our client companies use Behavior Based Safety (BBS) as a component of their comprehensive safety program. One aspect of many of these BBS programs is the requirement for employees to complete “observation cards” on a regular basis (a repetitive task). We find that many employees don’t see the importance of this task, so they put it off until the last minute and then “pencil-whip” or “make up” the observations just to satisfy the requirement. The reason this happens is because the employees don’t really understand the “WHY” behind the observation task. Supervisors assume that they understand the purpose behind the task so they don’t take the time to communicate this clearly to their employees. As you might guess, this “false” data can lead management to make safety decisions that may be misguided. We have found that simply telling employees that their observations are actually used to direct safety decision-making by management can greatly increase the validity of those observations.
People need to understand why they are being asked to do something that they don’t really like to do. Simply saying “because I said so” doesn’t work with children and it certainly doesn’t work with employees. Take the time to clearly communicate the reason behind what you are asking them to do and you will increase motivation.