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Motivating people: in practice in the workplace – fifty years in business here at UK Vending Ltd has

Motivating people: in practice in the workplace – fifty years in business here at UK Vending Ltd has taught us a few things about motivation

Each day all we managers have to get on with the business of managing towards a conclusion – i.e. a goal. A wise man used to say to me: “If you don’t know where you are going then how are you going to get there?”. We need a plan and we need skills and in many cases it would be so much easier if it was only ourselves we had to manage. There are no born managers as there are no born drivers. Occasionally we come across an exceptional leader but they are few and far between. Management means we must show leadership and just as management is a learned skill, to a degree leadership too can be learned. Part of management and all of leadership is about motivation. I learned the theory(ies) years ago and note them for readers below – putting them into practise is the thing. We learn to drive but some are better drivers than others. Being the best motivator of your staff that you can be is vital to business success – the divide between being ‘motivational’ and ‘demotivational’ is very small. This is a vital skill to learn and below is a theory to learn and apply and some tips.

Clearly, all of these theories (below) are valid, although they each have their own approach and emphasise some factors more or less than others. Nevertheless, you and I have the responsibility of translating such theory into practice, and actually motivating those around us in the work environment. Thus, we need to contemplate the practicalities of:

  1. being a good leader
  2. working as a team
  3. improving jobs
  4. developing people
  5. paying staff
  6. providing a safe and healthy workplace.

Being a good leader

People and the relationships between them are probably the biggest influence upon motivation, for better or worse. You can almost certainly have a hugely positive impact here, simply by being a good leader. If not one already, you can improve by understanding your personal, departmental and organisational goals, leading by example and then motivating others to follow your lead by involving them in everything you do that is relevant to them and within the capacity of their increasing work skills.

Working as a team

Likewise, teamwork has an absolutely vital role to play in motivating people. As a leader of what you hope will prove to be a successful team, you must be able to identify the characteristics of a winning team so that you all have something to aim for. You should also recognise team members as individuals with differing wants and needs and treat them as such. Strong teams are made of strong individuals. Build on the individual and encourage their co-operation and trust of their colleagues. Drawing on this knowledge, you will need to employ various teambuilding tactics in order to create and subsequently maintain a cohesive and effective team. These are learnable.

Improving jobs

If employees are affected by the people who work alongside them, then they will obviously be influenced as much by the jobs that they are doing for the firm. Again, you may be in a position to exert a positive influence in this area. Accordingly, you need to appreciate the importance of job enjoyment of people, and be capable of appraising employees and their employment to see how well-suited they are. If they are ill matched and not fully satisfied and demotivated as a result you will wish to rearrange their workload to improve matters. Having the wrong person in the job is bad for all the other people they work with and inhibits success across the board.

Developing people

Everyone wants to feel fulfilled at work, and that they are making the most of their talents and abilities and are progressing as far as they can. To achieve this, you must think self-development among your team, helping them to set their own standards and targets to work within and towards. Staff need to be trained to give them the skills and knowledge necessary to do their present and future jobs properly. You should assess employees regularly too so you can see how they are developing and if – or hopefully when – they are ready to be transferred or promoted to more demanding, high status jobs.

Paying staff

Pay ad other financial benefits can inspire people to work harder and better or demotivate them if they are seen as unacceptable. Although you may not have much influence here, you should consider pay levels within your business to judge if they are satisfactory; think about the different pay systems which operate and their respective pros and cons; and contemplate the overall pay package being provided, taking account of such benefits as sick pay, health insurance and pension scheme.

Providing a safe and healthy workplace

Similarly, the work environment can even make people feel good or demotivate them if it is not utterly satisfactory so far as they’re concerned. Hopefully, you will be in a position to ensure safe working conditions and build a healthy environment. At the same time, you may find useful to know something about the law in this field make certain that your firm is meeting its legal obligations to employes.


Martin Button is the Managing Director of UK Vending Ltd, Britain’s longest serving vending company. UK Vending Ltd (UKV) is a national supplier of prestige vending products and a provider of unique financial packages supporting UKV sales. UKV is a family owned business started some fifty years ago by Martin’s father John. It was the first vending company anywhere in the world hosted on the internet when most had not yet heard of the World Wide Web. One of Google’s ‘naturals’, UKV had an online shop before Amazon and Ebay. UKV had a successful background in email marketing before most companies had begun to understand its power. Imaginative marketing coupled with excellent staff recruitment and management, planning and customer service may be key to UKV’s long-term success in this competitive market. However, sheer business savvy and insight is what makes it work.

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