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The hunt for the elusive star salesmen

3 Mins

One of the biggest headaches for every business owner is finding the right staff. My particular bugbear is finding good sales people – ones who are capable of dealing with our upmarket customers. They need to be sales led and talk technical skills, all based in our extremely unglamorous factory environment on an equally unglamorous industrial estate.

I have had a fill of unpleasantness from some ex-staff, so quality of life and atmosphere rank pretty high on my list when recruiting.
 
I have been tenuously headhunting a local applicant to fill a missing place on the sales team – but they’ve been blowing extremely hot and cold on me. They then sent me an email asking what I did to motivate my staff if it wasn’t money (the applicant concerned was very reluctant to move without the promise of more money).

This immediately brought to my mind an excellent clip from Animated RSA that I watched on YouTube recently. Called The surprising truth about what motivates us, it shows an abridged version of a presentation by Daniel Pink, the New York Times bestselling author who lectures on economic transformation and changing the world of work.  

The clip shows the result of ongoing research, which proves that financial incentives only boost performance when it comes to simple, mechanical tasks. For more complex tasks, financial rewards actually have a detrimental effect on performance.

Thus you get a conundrum with applicants, especially those who want to progress: they are still obsessed by validating their worth in terms of financial reward but they are barking up the wrong tree – not just for the employer but for their own careers.  
 
Dan Pink goes on to explain a three-part motivational scheme (none of which is financial). Firstly, a scheme that 3M has been applying with great success since the seventies, where employees are given a regular slot of time to work on whatever they want in a free and relaxed atmosphere. That has led to phenomenal levels of creativity. Secondly, there is the satisfaction for individuals of mastering new skills. The third leg is to give people a sense of purpose. 
 
Organisations focused purely on profits are now shown not just as venal but demotivating as well.

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