How to Motivate Your Employees


In this episode of The Moving Mastery Podcast, Louis Massaro shares how to motivate your employees.

  • “If you give somebody something to do and they don’t do it, you have to start to understand human psychology and why that is. You’ve got to understand what your team really needs from you to perform their best.”
  • “There are certain things that need to be in place if you’re going to get your team to be motivated and do things the way you want them to.”
  • “If you’re trying to incentivize them with money and bonuses, and you’re just dangling a carrot expecting them to perform their best because you’re paying them to… It’s not going to work.”
  • “There needs to be some fundamental leadership culture-building cornerstones in place that will allow you to build better relationships with your team and keep them motivated.”
  • Watch the video to get full training.


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Louis Massaro:
I want to talk about some fundamental leadership culture-building cornerstones here that will allow you to build better relationships with your team and keep them motivated because a lot of times it’s not a question of motivation. You know, a lot of what I’ve heard we recently over the last month is like, I’ve got this new whatever position or I’ve got somebody that’s been with me for a while and I just can’t get them to do what I keep asking them to do. I keep talking to them, I’m telling them what to do. I’m telling them what to do, I’m going over what it is, but they’re just not doing it. And people are coming to me and saying, well, I’ve got a bonus structure that I want to put in place to incentivize them to do what it is I’m asking them to do.

And repeatedly I’ve been saying, it’s not a matter of money that is the motivation, right? There’re other factors that bring motivation into the mix. And it’s not just about money, right? And I don’t believe that you need to incentivize every person in your company to do their job. I think there’re certain areas that require certain incentives and certain bonuses, which we’re going to talk about. But other than that, I think we just need to have certain criteria that are solid. And for me, it was a real struggle when I first started, I didn’t know how to get people to do what I want them to do. My mindset was I’m putting in the work, I’m figuring this stuff out, you figure it out and I would just give somebody a project and tell them to go handle it and expect them to figure out all the steps on how to do it, and then not only figure it out but then figure out on how to do it and how I would’ve done it and how I wanted it done.

And after a while of wondering why aren’t they doing it the way that I want them to do it? I started to shift and learn some different ways of managing and leading. And that’s what I want to talk about today. It’s really important. We don’t want to constantly be having to hire and train new people, right? Movers, absolutely. Sales people, sure. Those two positions, that’s part of growth. You know, that’s something that you need consistent hiring and training with, but everybody else in the office, you want to start building that relationship with them, building that culture with them, to where they have a true motivation other than the carrot and the stick, right? The here’s the carrot of this bonus if you do your job and here’s the stick and the punishment of what’s going to happen if you don’t do your job. Coming out of season, we’re starting to stabilize a little bit, right?

It might have felt like the wheels are coming off the bus with this busy, busy summer and we need to really not only get our systems and our processes in order, we want to take a look at how we’re interacting with our people. So one of the things is if you give somebody something to do and they don’t do it, we have to start to understand human psychology and why that is, right? What are the reasons? And one of the things that comes up time and time again when I’m talking to people and we’re kind of going through the scenario, well, talk to me, what have you trained them on? What have you talked to them about? When you have these conversations, what are you saying to them? What do they say back to you?

I’m trying to understand and diagnose the problem so I could help them with a solution. And what I’ve come to realize is the one thing we’re going to talk about what your employees and what your team needs from you. Okay. It’s not money, right? So let’s not think that we’ve got to motivate everyone with money. We will talk about that, and there is a place for that, but that’s secondary because if these key areas aren’t in place that we’re going to talk about, and you’re just dangling the carrot, and dangling money, it’s not going to work. Right? The first thing you need to do and the first thing your team needs is they need to know the steps, right? And stick with me if this sounds obvious, they need to know the steps of what it is you’re asking them to do. You’re trying to get your operations manager to hire movers, right?

You’re like, hey, we need movers, this is the process. This is what we need you to do. What I want you to ask yourself is, do they know all the steps, meaning first, starting with what’s the next step, right? When you send somebody off to do something, when you delegate something, whether it’s something you delegate or it’s a full-on, that’s their position, they’re taking ownership of it and they’re going to run with it. Do they know the next step to take? Do they know the next step after that? Right? The ability to take a project and chunk it down, meaning, if you say to somebody, hey, we need to hire 10 more movers.

That’s a project that needs to be chunked down into manageable actions. And what happens is as business owners, as entrepreneurs, that’s what made you make the decision to go in the business and to do things on your own is your ability to take something big and complex and break it down. But not everyone has that skill and not everyone has that ability. So we want to look at it because all problems that are happening in our companies are either people or the process, right? And before we blame the people, we want to look at how we’re interacting with the people. So it sounds so simple. It sounds so simple. But if you’re having trouble getting someone to do something, okay, if you’re having trouble getting them to do something, just look at it and say, do they know the steps?
You’ll save yourself so much time, energy, frustration, stress, if you give up on this idea that if I could do it, they could figure it out, right? Like they should be able to figure this out. There’s a reason that you are the CEO and there’s a reason that they work for you. It’s not a matter of you being better than them. It’s not that, okay? But we can’t assume that just because we’re able to break down complex stuff they’re able to break down complex stuff. And so this goes back to processes, right? Do they have the process? And it could literally be something so simple. Let me tell you why this creates a challenge because the person on the other end isn’t going, hey, you didn’t give me the steps, I’m not going to do it, it’s not that. They feel stuck.

They feel stupid, right? They’re afraid to ask for advice because you’re coming to them like come on, you should be able to do this and what might be stopping them, what might be preventing them from actually following through could be something so small. So small. I went through this for the last month with private clients and it was something so small and it would seem insignificant, right? After you place the ad for the movers and they call in, there was a void, right? I’m thinking of one scenario, there’re an operations’ manager and there was a void on what to do next. What’s the actual step? So if we’re going to set them up on a phone interview, what’s that step? I’m spending a little extra time on this because I know you’re like, yeah, Louis, I know they need to know the steps, but it’s so critical.

So this is all kind of a self-check if you will, on everybody on your team that you’re trying to get to do stuff, that’s not doing it the way you want to do it, I want you to start looking at how you are addressing it, make sure they know the steps. They need that. Okay. They need to know the exact steps. That’s the importance of processes, which we talk about all the time. The next one is what they need. Now, remember we’re talking about motivation, right? And when somebody’s not good at something, they’re not motivated to go do it. If you go to the basketball court and all you do is throw air balls up and just embarrass yourself, you’re not really wanting to go back, but if you start to get good at something, you’ll want to play more, right?

In psychology, it’s called competence, confidence loop. The more confidence you gain at something, the more confident you get at doing it, the more confident you’ll get, the more confident you’ll get. So when they know the steps, that’s how that all unfolds. Right? And so now they’ll be more motivated. We’re talking about getting them motivated which we’re removing all these little blocks that are causing them to just either go from motivated to unmotivated to possibly dreading their job, to getting back to a position of enjoying what they do and being motivated to help the team succeed as a whole. The next thing they need is clarity on goals and roles. They need clarity, right? Ask yourself, your team that you have, are they clear on the company’s objectives? Are they crystal clear on what it is you’re trying to accomplish?

Do they know what their goals are as an individual or in their department, right? What you’re trying to achieve, what you’re trying to attain, and then do they know the role that they play? Number one. Okay. The role that they play and the role that everyone else plays. So a role is who’s responsible for hiring movers? Who’s responsible for checking the voicemail when you come in on a Monday to see if there’s anyone that needs a request for a quote, right? Who’s responsible for what roles? So there needs to be clarity on this and I could tell you, because I’ve recently gone through a team change and just last week had a meeting on goals and roles to make sure that everyone was crystal clear on the goals of the company, and also to make sure that their crystal clear on their role and everyone else’s role.

Because what happens is when we… The mistakes happen in everybody’s company, right? A lot of times when we pass the Baton or when we pass the ball, we talk about dropping the ball. Well, most of the time when that happens, it’s because I got it, no, I got it. Like somebody didn’t know who’s role it was to have the ball at that point or there was no clear handoff to the next person. So you want to make sure that they’ve got clarity on the goals and their roles and your goal you could make it simple. Like, don’t feel that you’ve got to expose everyone to all your personal goals. I mean, listen, our goal is to serve customers at a very high level to perform a quality move and make an extraordinary profit while we’re doing it. Think about a goal that in one sentence you could clear up a lot of miscommunication, right?

It’s like, hey, they want to ask a question, well, should we do this? Or should we do that? Well, our goal of our company is to provide excellent service and make an extraordinary profit. Based on that, what’s the answer, right? If they’re clear on what the company objective is, what certain initiatives are. If you’re trying to roll out something new and if you’re trying to hire a bunch of new movers and you need to make sure that the people that are involved understand the importance of that and the overall goal, this is what’s going to allow us to do it. It’s not just about, hey, I need you to do this thing where they don’t understand that the thing you’re asking them to do has a bigger purpose, has a bigger cause.

I’ve found out over the years that a lot of times when we delegate and we ask our team to do stuff, they think you’re just giving them busy work. Right? They think you’re just trying to come up with stuff to have them do and if they understand the goal and they understand their role in achieving that goal, that creates motivation. Then I hear it all the time, it’s like, I’ve told them, or I’ve told her a bunch of times I’m like what’s a bunch of times? Like just curious, I don’t know, three, four, or five times. And what I tell everybody is you’ve got to have consistent conversations on expectations. When it comes to leadership, I’m sure we all wish we could have robots working for us that we could program and we could say, do this thing and you told it once and it’s going to go do it, but that’s not the reality of it.

And our mind starts going, I shouldn’t have to tell them this over and over. I shouldn’t have to tell them this over and over. I shouldn’t have to tell them this over and over. And so we start to just have a whole negative outlook on that person. When the reality is, there’s a lot of moving parts that they’re dealing with and we’ve got to have consistent conversations about expectations. Repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition. Like if you’re struggling to get anyone to do anything in your company, slow down the initiatives, slow down all the new stuff you’re taking on and spend time with consistent conversation, repetition, repetition, repetition. I had someone ask me, Louis, I’m running out of topics for my mover meetings.

I’m running out of topics for my mover meetings. And I’m like, well, why do you need new topics? You’re still struggling with these three things. Keep talking about those three things over and over and over and over, right? Don’t worry about sounding like a broken record. That’s okay. That’s how people finally get it. And where we mess up, and what I messed up early on, I know some of you too, is that feeling of I shouldn’t have to tell them more than once. That’s your job, you should know how to do it, but this is leadership, right? It’s not programming robots to go do their thing. So consistent conversations. Anything that you want to have done, you probably could do five times more of the conversation than you’re currently doing. I wouldn’t even say double the conversation. You could probably have five times more of the conversation.

You talk to somebody about something once a week. You could probably talk to them about it every single day. This doesn’t need to be a meeting. It doesn’t need to be a sit-down meeting, whatever consistent message that I want to get across to my team, I use different formats. I’ll do a voice memo on my phone. Hey, just a reminder, what we’re working on today, and here’s the goals, here’s your role in this, send that out. Send that out, send that out. Right? I don’t need to go have a big meeting and sit down and waste time, but I want to make sure that there is a consistent conversation going on about expectations, right? And I think holding people accountable for their expectations, once they clear on their roles that’s management, right? That’s leadership. That’s part of owning a business.

We can’t allow people to sit because we’re afraid of the confrontation that might come from the conversation of that consistent message. We could do it in a soft, delegate way. It’s not like, hey, I thought I told you to do that. Like it’s not that. So the next one is in order to make sure they stay motivated. Because what happens is when they’re in an environment that they enjoy and this is possible guys, don’t think because you have a moving company and you’re not Google or you’re not Facebook or all these cool places that people talk about working at that you can’t have people that are there motivated to do a good job because you can. Right? It’s just all the stuff that shrinks them and brings them down and demotivates them.

And then we try to dangle money out and wonder why that’s not working either. They also need a safe place for questions and feedback, a safe space for questions and feedback. Basically, don’t shoot the messenger. Right? You guys have heard that. Don’t shoot the messenger. Matter of fact, hug the messenger or maybe right now from a distance. But embrace the messenger. You’ve got to allow for a safe space for people to ask questions. And there’s two parts to this. They need to be able to come to you and come to management with questions without you blowing up on them. Okay. We’re all guilty of it. Right? We need to be able to create that space and create that communication chain where we’re communicating on expectations and part of the expectation is how to communicate.

But when people bring stuff to you, you want that, you want to create an environment where all your employees are comfortable coming to you and telling you about all the problems and you got to like even if you got to suck it up. Okay. Thanks so much for sharing. Okay, thanks, I’ll let you know and you close the door and then you’re like mother, after they leave and they don’t hear you and you’re really truly pissed off and you want to tear some stuff down, hey, that’s you, don’t put it on them. Right? Because the first time you do that, the first time, they’re done coming to you with stuff, they’re done coming with things that could be really helpful to help the company, they’re done asking clarifying questions and in my company that’s a term. I can ask a clarifying question, which basically means I ask them to do something they’re not clear on exactly what it is and they need clarification.

And you want that because you don’t want to send somebody off and they’re not quite sure exactly what you want from them. Right? And so we’ve got to create this space where they could ask questions. It also goes when you’re sitting with somebody and the first part here was they need to know the steps. Right? I don’t know the percentage of people, if I had to guess, I would say at least half of the population is scared to raise their hand and say I don’t know something when the person in front of them is talking to them as if they should know it. And then when it’s an employee whose job it is to know that, you have to create a safe space where they feel like it’s okay to go.

When you’re like, hey, I told you, you need to put the ad in for movers. If they’re like, I don’t know how to post an ad and you’re not like what do you mean that you don’t know how to post an ad? You’ve got to create a space where they feel open to talk to you about what they don’t understand. Right? Because you rapidly, you guys think about everything that goes on in your head from morning tonight and growing your business and all it is you’re trying to do and all you’re trying to get everybody else to do. First of all, it’s not everything they’re thinking about like it is everything you’re thinking about. And it’s hard to keep up with all of it. Plus changes. Right? I mean, there’s always changes being made. People are trying to keep up with that stuff. They need to be able to ask questions on what’s going on. And you want to also, when you have conversations with people, be open, be vulnerable, show some weakness in that conversation. Okay.

Stick with me here, show some weakness in that conversation. Meaning, if you come to your team in a way of where it’s like you know everything and they should know everything. You’ve got to show, even if you’re exaggerating it a little bit, you’ve got to show look, I know this is tough, I used to struggle with this myself. We’re just really trying to get everybody on the same page and I totally understand if this is super confusing right now, just feel free to ask me as many questions as you need.

Even if you know it’s not super confusing, even if you know that they should get it, create that space that allows them to not go, okay. yeah, I get it, and then you wonder why they’re not doing it. Allow yourself to show a little vulnerability and a little bit of your weakness and like, oh, I used to struggle with this too because they’ll be like, oh, okay. So it’s okay that I don’t get this. It’s okay that I’m not understanding. This is what they’re thinking in their head. It’s okay if I ask a question, I’m not going to look stupid. People are so afraid of looking stupid, they’d rather not ask the question and then try to figure it out, and then we’re stuck going, why aren’t they doing it the way they’re supposed to do it? All right.

So the next one is what they need to know. These are all things they need to know. They need to know you care about them. They need to know you care about them. One of the things when I teach delegation, people will talk about is guilt. One of the reasons people don’t delegate is guilt. And it’s this feeling of, I need to let my team see how hard I work because if they see how hard I work, they’ll work hard. If they see how hard I work, they’re going to respect me. And the reality is, and just having been there. When I started, I had all my friends, I recruited all my friends to work for me. My first six, seven employees, all friends, other than a bookkeeper. And I felt the need to work just as hard or like, come on, we’re in this together.

And the reality is, they don’t care how hard you work, they just need to know that you care about them, right? That you treat them like a person, that you acknowledge them, ask them how their day is. I don’t mean like chit-chat bullshit water cooler stuff, you don’t need to sit and have a conversation with every single person on your team about everything they did over the weekend. Right? Because we also need to be efficient. We’ve got stuff we need to get done. But they need to know you care about them as a person. You care about their job and them being successful, and that not every interaction is like just go get it done, or why didn’t this get done? Why didn’t that get done? Because what this does is this builds up like an emotional bank account where when you do maybe blow up a little bit, they get it and they understand it, and you’ve had a bad day, but they truly know that you care about them.

I would switch the idea in your mind that they need to know how hard you work, that you need to prove to them that you’re a hard worker, you don’t. Prove to them that you care because when you prove to them that you care, you come to the office for two hours a week and they’ll respect you for it. They’ll respect you for it. And I know that’s hard for a lot of overachievers. A lot of people that are like, I’m in this, let’s make this happen, but we want freedom. Right? So this is like a double bonus here. Show them you care, you don’t have to work as hard to get their respect.

They just want to know that you respect them as a person. That’s all. Okay. So let me just recap those points. Things they need to know to stay motivated to go from feeling like about their job, where there’s like, okay, and go through the motions, we want to start lifting them up. Okay. And this happens with a consistent following of these principles. Number one, make sure they know the steps of everything they need to do. If they’re not doing it, it’s because they don’t know the steps. Just lay out the steps, walk through it with them. Don’t make them feel stupid. Let them know you know what? I know it’s a lot. Right? I get it. Let’s chunk this down. Let’s make it more actionable. And you start to train your team on how to take big projects and chunk them down into actionable steps.

Make sure they know the steps. Make sure they’ve got clarity on the company and department and personal goals, as well as their roles in achieving that, and everyone else’s role. Consistent conversations on expectations. Repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition. Remove that thought. Okay. You’ll know the next time because you’ll hear my voice. The next time you go I shouldn’t have to tell them that again. I shouldn’t have to tell them again. Right? We can’t look at that and say you shouldn’t, we’ve got to look at it and say, what could we do to correct this issue? Because at the end of all this, if they’re still not doing what they’re supposed to do, then it could be a people problem. It could be that they’re not the right person and that happens and that’s okay and that’s part of the business. Make sure they’ve got a safe space for questions and feedback. Right? Don’t shoot the messenger, embrace the messenger. Let them see you care about them. Okay. So that’s what will help you motivate them and make them more positive about their job.