As 2014 rolls in, how about aiming for a resolution that will impact the outcome of your farm, ranch or business? I don’t argue that resolutions for losing weight, eating healthy and volunteering your time are not admirable resolutions, but how about making 2014 the year to better understand your employees and co-workers.

Gordon lynn
Consultant and Ag Writer / LEADER Consulting, LLC

This can be accomplished by focusing on motivation – “What motivates an individual?”

How many times have you been frustrated because an employee or co-worker conducted a task in a different way than you would have, or they just don’t seem to be motivated with the same drive you have?

Have you ever scratched your head and wondered why this is? You probably thought life would be much simpler if your employees saw things in the same light as you and did things just like you did.

I’ve heard many farmers and ranchers say that about their employees and co-workers about their peers.


Well, the reason is: People are all motivated differently. Just as people have different personality types, there are different sources and styles of motivation.

Researchers have studied several aspects of the field of motivation, and numerous theories have been analyzed. In this column, I’ll explain the five sources of motivation identified and relate examples to agricultural work.

By understanding these sources of motivation, you can adjust work or tasks to successfully motivate individuals. All five sources of motivation exist in all people, but they are expressed at varying degrees.

When discussing motivation, researchers considered what energizes a human being, what channels such behavior and how this behavior is sustained.

1. Motivated by fun (Intrinsic process)
Some employees are motivated by the pleasure and enjoyment from their work; to them work is clearly fun and enjoyable. They will often be heard talking about how much they like or dislike an assigned task.

For example, if building a fence is not something they enjoy doing, they may be heard saying, “I wish I was working with the cattle today rather than building a fence.”

They will volunteer for tasks they enjoy the most. As an employer, it will be obvious to you which tasks they enjoy – because tasks they do not enjoy they often are not very skilled at.

How to motivate: Pay attention to the tasks the employee enjoys doing and focus on allowing them to conduct those tasks more often or specialize in that area. Stress that work can be fun, and create an enjoyable work atmosphere where it’s OK to laugh and enjoy working with other co-workers.

2. Motivated by rewards (Instrumental)
Those who are motivated by rewards (pay, bonuses, vacation time or extras such as housing included, their own pickup to drive, etc.) are motivated instrumentally.

If you have a co-worker who always seems to be interested in “what’s in it for me” or asking about time off, extra compensation for overtime worked or seeking constant pay raises, they are someone who is more focused on the rewards tied to their work.

As an employer, if you have challenged your workers with a bonus based on live calves born, and you see them working extra hard to accomplish this, it may not just be because they want the ranch to be successful but because they are striving for that bonus. They are motivated by the rewards tied to the job or task.

How to motivate: Be clear and concise on the compensation the employee will receive and can achieve, create pay or reward incentive programs, focus bonuses around performance outcomes and develop non-monetary rewards that employees can also achieve (days off).

3. Motivated by reputation (Self-concept external)
For people who are very focused on how they are viewed by others, be it their supervisor, peers or friends, it is very important, actually critical to their success in their work to be known and recognized for their reputation.

Employees motivated by reputation will often be heard frequently asking for feedback and hoping for praise and recognition for the work they do for the farm, ranch or business.

They need to hear these assuring words to keep themselves motivated and know others, especially peers and their supervisor, notice their work.

Sometimes they will even be heard bragging about their accomplishments, awards or promotions.

How to motivate: Be sure to take the time to praise and recognize the achievements of the employee and be sensitive to criticism in public; criticism would be better behind closed doors. Provide them with tasks that are visible to the company or others so their efforts will be noticed.

4. Motivated by achievement (Self-concept internal)
People motivated by this source are focused on achievement. They have a set of personal standards they set out to achieve in their job performance.

Employees are not seeking feedback like those who are focused on reputation; rather they are self-driven to seek out their own achievements.

You can determine if your employee or co-worker may be motivated by achievement if they don’t stray from the most difficult tasks, are open and willing to be challenged and are always looking for ways to improve their skill set.

They are self-driven to perform important tasks without much supervision or direction because they seek the challenge and set out to achieve from their skills they have worked hard to develop.

How to motivate: Challenge your employees; allow opportunities for professional development and skill set development. Recognize the importance of the employee’s skills to the company.

5. Motivated by cause (Goal internalized)
If you find yourself to be someone who is motivated by the cause at hand, then you are goal-internalized. You believe in the cause that you are doing, you believe in the work, and your values and morals guide you to make the decisions and actions you do in both choosing your field of work and how you achieve work in that field.

Those identified by this motivation style are often heard asking, “Why are we doing this?” and focused on the mission and strategic direction of the business.

In a non-agricultural role, those who often work for charities are goal-internalized because they so strongly believe in the cause. If they don’t support the cause, the mission and goals, employees will not be motivated to complete the tasks.

How to motivate: Have a clear vision for your operation and articulate and communicate this with the employee. Take the time to discuss goals and achievements toward these goals. Explain how daily tasks will lead to the overall achievement of these goals.  end mark

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