There is plenty of business advice out there if you need help – but one local firm is offering a service with a difference.
The clue is in the name for Motivation Matters, run by joint directors Stephen and Anne Walker, of Emmerson Way, Hadleigh.
The couple set up the business ten years ago, after their son Sam was grown up: “We knew we couldn’t do a good job of parenting and a good job of running our own business at the same time, and they are both very important,” said Stephen.
Motivation Matters offers a bespoke service to small to medium-sized businesses, they give advice on a wide variety of working practices including personal and management skills, staff performance and organisation.
Other firms offer this type of service, but talking to the couple you can see how passionate they are about their job and about helping to motivate workers in the workplace – starting with the managers and leaders.
Former engineer Stephen firmly believes that motivation is the key to increased productivity: “I believe I can raise productivity by 25 per cent - if you raise productivity you reduce the costs of what you are making.”
He says bad bosses have a lot to answer for – the attitude of ‘I’m the boss, do what I say’ is counter-productive, he feels. He holds up Toyota as an example of good management because: “They care about the process and the people and they ask people what is wrong with the process – staff are recognised as an asset. You need to get people involved and engaged with the work.”
Anne, formerly a teacher, adds: “Management have a responsibility to the people who work for them. It works both ways.”
Stephen is scathing about the raft-building type team exercises which were popular with management trainers in the ’90s, and about the use of management-speak: “You need to take a personal interest in your staff but it is essential that the interest is genuine.
“British reserve stops people from building these relationships –there is a difference between emotional intelligence and just being emotional.”
Stephen says a lot of large firms invest in facilities for their workers and feel they are being good employers, but neglect to show they value them by involving them in the decision-making process: “Most people have more to give than they are allowed to,” he says.
Anne adds: “If someone has been doing a job for ten years, they know how it can be improved.”