“If you want loyalty get a dog – I work for money”

‘If you mess up the “hygiene factors”, the “true motivators” never get a chance to work, and the single most important hygiene factor is pay. No good results will ever be achieved without paying people the right way.’
Issue date: 23 May 2008

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As I worked through life, starting in government as a technical assistant (another name for a skilled labourer); moving into a position where I managed an assistant; climbing a rung or two and managing more people; and eventually managing managers, there were two episodes when I was seriously the hell-in about my pay.
In government it was because I never had enough cash to live at a similar standard to my peers, who had also just started out. In another job, I discovered my boss was earning more than double my pay level. That really upset me. I thought I was being paid quite well, but damn, it simply wasn’t fair.

I didn’t stay long with government, and in the second case, after a few days of moping, I expressed my dissatisfaction and got myself a raise. I can’t recall that the pay increase motivated me, but I did stop sulking.
I now know my reaction was exactly the same as our employees when we messed up our pay rates in the same way. They left if they could, or moped around, getting on with the job without any sparkle in their performance. Exactly as Hertzberg said in last week’s column – good pay never motivates; it only dissatisfies less.

As Hertzberg says, motivation comes from achievement, recognition, interesting work, responsibility, promotion and personal growth and development, but if you mess up the “hygiene factors”, the “true motivators” never get a chance to work. The single most important “hygiene” factor is pay, and no good results will ever be achieved without paying people the right way. Let’s have a look at the rules that apply.

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Rule #1: It has to be enough. Long before minimum agricultural wages, we were doing the annual review of pay rates, when someone asked – how much does an unskilled labourer need to live? We developed a basket of essential items: Housing; food; school fees; transport; medical; pension; clothing and so on. We costed this out and were shocked, no, ashamed to be paying people at these poverty levels. had to lift these rates and somehow we did, but that’s another story.

Rule #2: It has to be fair. Without a fair pay hierarchy there will always be disgruntled employees. You’ll never build a stable, successful business if the tractor driver and the sweeper earn the same pay, and I know the minimum wage rate has driven some farmers to do this. To structure your pay rates fairly, you’ll need some form of job grading. Most well-known and probably best is the Paterson system, which grades jobs on the basis of the decisions made.

Rule #3: All pay rates should recognise exceptional performance. For this you need a simple, properly managed and appropriate variable component in the wage rate or salary. It might be number of bags picked; litres of milk produced; tons of maize per hectare; share of profit and so on. These can be tricky to develop, with unintended consequences flowing from poorly designed measures, but you must do it.
ithout these pay basics in place you’ll never really build a motivated team. – Contact Peter Hughes on (013) 745 7303 or e-mail [email protected]. |fw