While money is clearly a motivator at work, genuine appreciation and acknowledgement are what make us happy. Bob Nelson, an author and motivational speaker says, “More than anything else, employees want to be valued for a job well done by those they hold in high esteem.” 

In a recent CEO conclave a young person sitting next to me asked a question to the panelists ‘When the CEO is 30 plus, how can he motivate an employee who is 49 or 50’? Response he got from the panel was not clear. I wanted to tell the man, the age of the employee is irrelevant, what matters is the way in which you address him! If you take the stand of a ‘know-it-all’ (just because you’re the CEO), then there is little hope of you motivating him. However I held my silence as the question was not directed at me 🙂 but it set me thinking.

Corporate world is unforgiving and uncaring, contributions made are quickly forgotten. Initiatives taken by someone later becomes a mandate! Soon all sorts of experts spring from the inside and outside the organisation. The person who started the activity or the initiative is told ‘Don’t talk about history, I don’t want to know’, many experts little wonder enthusiasm just melts away.  The organization ends up having a bunch of Zombies, keeping busy in ‘activities’. The person is quickly branded as a negative person and kept away from the power houses!

What happens to such an employee? When career progression is not in sight and all one hears are empty promises, employee morale dips. When a business owner or the CEO sets his goals high he should also have a motivated team on his side, a team having an equally single-minded focus as the CEO.  Is it enough that the top 2 or 3% of the workforce is taken good care of? Will these people be able to motivate their individual teams to action, when they feel deprived? I feel it is imperative to have an energized team right up to the lowest level, they should want to contribute. Is it an ideal situation that I’m talking about here? May be, may not be; whatever level an employee is in, if he or she knows ‘what’s in it for me’ and if it appeals to him/her, then the CEO will have whole-hearted support from the work force. 

When compliments are paid grudgingly or an offer made in the form of a Watermelon: Red inside – Green outside, a barb covered by praise, it rings hollow! Statements like you’ll have ‘Horizontal growth’ which means you will not get a promotion but will get to do more work! Or, ‘we have Leaders without titles’; it’s to be read as ‘hey, this guy is on the lower rung of the corporate ladder’!  

So here my young ‘CEO’ friend, age does not matter, what matters is the feeling ‘I matter to you’.  When you speak to this ‘older’ employee, keep in mind that he is another ‘human being’ and can be a very useful resource to you and your organisation, if he feels cared for and valued as a person…


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