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Motivation Through Communication

Apr 29, 2008
Our concern for the morale, enthusiasm, and effectiveness of our sales team did not begin in the last couple of problem years. We have had and on-going, long-range communications system that has kept management aware of what our sales representatives are thinking, what their attitudes are, how they feel about their jobs, their mangers, their working conditions, and so on. In short, We have been able to keep our fingers on the motivational pulse of the sales force on a continuing basis. I call it "motivation through communication."

The Kraft sales organizational structure lends itself to keeping a good communications network open and effective. Unlike many companies, our sales department is separate from marketing. There is a direct line of communications from the sales force through the levels of sales management to my office. This enables us to react quickly to the needs of our field sales force.

Our "motivation through communication" system begins with the training or our management at all levels to be knowledgeable about and aware of those factors that are measure of true motivation, as well as those that are simply job satisfiers. Job satisfiers are those things the company provides to recruit and maintain good, high-caliber employees. They involve:

Other compensation
Job security
Working conditions
Company policies
Social relationships

These, of course, are important; and unless sales employees feel that these things are as good or better than they can get with other companies, we are likely to lose some of our most capable people.

We at Kraft constantly monitor not only how our people feel about these things but how our benefits actually compare to what the industry is doing and we try to stay competitive. For instance, we just increased our medical benefits and installed a good dental plan. We recently found that our sales people wanted incentive bonuses on a semiannual rather than an annual basis. This provides a more proximate goal; and the closer the goal, the more stimulating the challenge.

Our managers know that these job satisfiers are very relevant to recruiting and maintaining good people. But they also are aware that these are not the primary catalysts of productivity on the job. It has been found, for example, that a compensation increase only affects productivity for a short period of time.

On the other hand, our managers know that the real motivators are factors that are truly significant in helping to increase productivity. The real motivators are feelings that the individual has about his or her job, feelings like:

My work has value, so I'm valuable.

This is challenging work and I'm doing it well.

There's a good chance I'll be noticed for what I do.

I am getting better at this job.

I am responsible for what does and what doesn't happen.

Our management people have found that knowing and understanding what truly motivates, helps them to develop and implement a set of programs that can positively influence these feelings and thereby increase productivity. These programs involve a series of communications that assist management to measure and react to the level of these feelings.
About the Author
Michalle Law is the professional freelance writer. He's also the webmaster of Finance98.com
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