Is it better to motivate workers, or to inspire those already motivated?

It is not so easy to motivate people. Motivation comes and goes. You are safer hiring people who are already motivated and then inspiring them to greatness. But, how to you spot greatness?

Most employees don’t care about their job and want to do the minimum — at least with lower level jobs. The secret is to see who will do extra. In the long run, if an employee is going to last and do amazing work, if they are not willing to do a little extra, they won’t be worth much. But, how can you test people out?

1. Ask people to come on the weekend
Especially if you ask people at the last minute. Most people value their weekend time. See if they come. See if they complain about coming or hold a grudge after.

2. Ask people to meet a deadline earlier than necessary
If people are cooperative about meeting an early deadline, that is excellent. Of course in the long run it is about consistency, not one time performance. But, if you get a good first perfomance, you might get a second and a third.

3. Email
See how fast people respond to emails when they are off duty. My experience is that those who answer business emails on the weekend will be better workers. Maybe not super stars, but better.

4. Calls
Ask them to call you when they are done with something. Most people you’ll never hear from. They wait for you to call them. Initiative means they call you.

5. Dropping the Ball
Most employees specialize in dropping the ball and not taking responsibility. Find a way for another employee to spot the employee that dropped the ball and pick up the ball. This means when an employee flakes on a particular responsibility, find that other employee who will spot what happened fast and correct the situation. Otherwise you are the one who has to solve all of the problems at your company.

6. Study Requirements
Ask employees to study something on their own on the weekend. See who actually does it. Tell them it’s not required. Most people won’t do what is not required. But, those who do are special.

7. Spy on Them
If not asked to clock in, see who takes an extra long lunch break. See who is on Facebook when they are supposed to be working. See who is gossiping instead of getting work done. If you are observing people without them noticing, you’ll learn a lot.

Basically, your job as boss and manager is to accumulate a small army of people who are super loyal and super responsible to run your company in your absense. Then you can concentrate on growing the company. Those high quality people should get paid more, should get respect, and should be given harder responsibilties so they know that you take them seriously. People who are just fooling around do not merit a good salary, especially without having paid any dues by sticking around at your company. Judge salaries by longevity at your company and track record — not number of years in the field or test results (although those are factors.)

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