Document 230300

Practice Matters —
How to motivate your staff
Helping your staff achieve successful results starts with setting
appropriate goals.
By Cathy Urquhart, MS, MSN, RN
Melissa whines. “Do I have to?
Right now? Can’t it wait?”
“Sure, I can help,” says Carrie.
“What would you like me to do?
When do you need me to do it?”
What motivates some people to
want to do something and others to resist
doing it? Why do some jump at the chance
to help while others drag their feet or offer
their help only after the task is done? Why
are some people motivated to do wonderful
work and others to avoid work?
Motivation is the state or condition of being
motivated, or moved to action; the term is synonymous with incentive or drive. Behaviorists
define motivation as anticipation of or participation in getting something you want.
To put it simply, people do what they do
because of the rewards they gain from doing
those things. People who whine get others to
do their work for them. Over the years, they’ve
learned they can’t do anything right or fast
enough. They whine, which irritates you; to get
them to stop whining, you do the work for them.
Set your staff up for success
Fortunately, most people want to succeed.
And success breeds success.
People who don’t know how to succeed
eventually learn how to get others to do
their work. They’re motivated to whine so
as to avoid failure.
On the other hand, people who know
how to achieve results are motivated by the
satisfaction they get from their success; they want to
get that feeling as often as possible. Success motivates
them. They’ve learned how to produce successful results and become experts in their specialty area.
By learning a process or using a formula to achieve
success, you can help yourself and your staff achieve
goals and succeed.
Build empowering relationships
The key to setting staff members up for success is to
build empowering relationships that provide them with
the experiences they need to
develop the skills required to
achieve goals. Talk with your
staff and ask questions so you
can learn what’s important to them,
determine their current skill levels,
and find out about their goals and
Set achievable goals and results
Once you know a person’s goals, values, and skill level, you can work
with him or her to develop a plan
with achievable goals, and to provide
reinforcement and rewards in line with
what that person wants. Keep in mind
that goals and results need to be measurable so staff members know when
they’ve met the criteria for success.
Generally, goals are measured with
numbers, whereas results are measured
through judgment. Examples of measurable goals for nurses are chart audits
showing compliance with specific criteria,
such as discharge planning and timely
medication administration. Examples of desired results are building a cohesive team or
using good nursing judgment.
Provide as many criteria as possible for
gauging goal achievement. Checklists are
useful in tracking criteria.
If creating a cohesive team is the result you want to
achieve, you need to define what behaviors by team
members signify this result, and then track those behaviors. Examples of such behaviors include:
• sharing knowledge and expertise
• offering and accepting assistance for difficult tasks
• sharing successes
• acknowledging each other’s achievements.
Desired behaviors need to be shaped in a way that
enables the person to succeed right from the start. Discuss with your staff which behaviors they currently exhibit and which ones they’ll need to learn. Begin with
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the most basic behaviors and progress to more complex ones. Remember—any behavior exhibited is an attempt at performance. If performance
falls short of desired behavior, the effort should be reinforced.
But be sure to take one small
step at a time. People vary in the
amount of practice they need to
achieve a desired performance level.
As Yoda said, “Do or do not, there
is no try.” Trying implies failure.
Start staff members at their current
level of performance and success,
and build on that.
Provide appropriate support
Assess what your staff members need
to achieve the goals and behaviors
identified. Nurses’ experiences with
anticipatory guidance helps us anticipate support needs. Examples of
needed support are additional training, time to practice skills, technology
equipment or training, and financial
support. By anticipating what support
your staff might need and discussing
it with them, you’re showing your
support for their success. Being there
for them helps build the foundation
for loyalty through trust.
How did the process FARE?
Use the mnemonic FARE to evaluate the success of an endeavor. Be sure everyone involved in the process gets an opportunity to offer input.
eelings come first; they must be processed before the process can be
objectively evaluated. Are the results exciting, disappointing, or somewhere
in between?
ctions come second. By reviewing the actions or behaviors exhibited, you
and your team can learn and move forward. Review how the team got to the
end point and whether the endeavor was a complete success, a dismal failure, or
something in between.
ate the Results. On a scale of 1 to 5, how well do the results meet the stated
valuate the rating given in the preceding step. Are the results acceptable
given the circumstances—especially any unforeseen circumstances that
arose? Are they beyond what was expected? Or were they totally unacceptable?
Next, ask yourself or staff members these questions:
• What would you do the same way the next time?
• What would you do differently? Asking this question gives you and your staff
the chance to correct gaps in planning and helps them overcome unanticipated obstacles.
• What would you do if …? Using this open-ended question, your team can
brainstorm how to overcome obstacles. A team member with more experience may anticipate a problem that a less-experienced person wouldn’t foresee; by asking pertinent questions, you help them see possible consequences.
When people gain insight by solving problems, they’re more likely to remember and use the solution.
Reinforce desired behaviors
Use pictorial graphs with pertinent data to show staff
members their progress. Graphs and data are objective
indicators of success; they’re worth a thousand words.
They allow team members to share what they’re doing
to achieve results. Explain the data and graphs to reinforce the process and to gain status for implementing
changes and showing improvement. Knowing they’re
performing an action more efficiently motivates staff to
continue the behavior and spurs them on to even
greater accomplishments.
Reinforce the graphs and data with personal notes
or conversations that specify how the person’s behavior
has affected the outcome for both that person and the
team as a whole. This supplies the “Wow! I really made
a difference!” factor, which has a long-lasting impact.
Evaluate the process
We can improve on nearly everything—but only if we
take the time to examine what we’ve done and brainstorm innovations for the future. When reviewing an
experience, we examine goals, actions, support, and
reinforcement; then we can decide what to repeat,
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what to avoid, and what to do differently in the future.
(See How did the process FARE?)
Reward results
When your staff achieves desired goals and results, reward them by giving them what they want. People are
motivated to act when they anticipate or participate
in getting something they want. Commemorate goal
achievement with a significant event, such as a dinner
or an awards ceremony. This will help your staff relive
and remember how the goal was achieved. Emotions
related to success become motivators for future success.
Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “You can
have everything you want in life if you’ll just help
enough other people get what they want.” People are
motivated to achieve when they know how to achieve.
When you teach people a process for achieving the
goals and results they want, you’ll hear them ask,
“What can I do to help?” much more often.
Cathy Urquhart is the president of Performance Health, a management consulting
firm in Andover, Massachusetts.