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Organisational Behaviour Expert Siphiwe Moyo’s Insights Into Keeping Your Employee’s Motivated

Motivating employees to give their best is the cornerstone of high-performance, high-growth organisations. Organisational culture expert Siphiwe Moyo shows you how to boost employee morale.

Nadine Todd




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  • Player: Siphiwe Moyo
  • What he does: Expert in organisational effectiveness and organisational behaviour, part-time lecturer at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), and a professional speaker.
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Pay attention to the intrinsic motivators of your team. If you can tap into that, you’ll link their purpose to that of the organisation, driving productivity.

Related: Got What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur? International Speaker Justin Cohen Tells You How

What is the biggest influencer or detractor of productivity?

Ultimately, it all comes down to whether an individual is in the correct job, position and department. There must be a job and culture fit. In my experience, organisations often don’t look closely enough at culture. They look at the right skill sets when hiring, but don’t consider the individual.

You can have the same person, with the same skills, in the same position, thriving in one organisation and a disaster in another. If someone isn’t performing optimally, start by asking if there’s a culture fit, or a mismatch.

If there’s a mismatch, consider moving the individual to a different department. They might excel in a different role. I’ve had personal experience with this. As a star performer, I was promoted into a middle management role. On paper it looked great — a better title, more responsibility and a salary increase.

Once I started the role, I realised it was the wrong fit for me. I went from being a star performer to mediocre at best. Because I was able to have an open and honest discussion with the organisation, I was able to move into a different role, and ended up being awarded employee of the year again.

As an organisation, keep lines of communication open, and allow employees the space to feel safe enough to voice these concerns. People are often too scared to speak up, and so remain stuck in a role they hate, and aren’t performing in. It’s a waste of time and resources for everyone.

How do you keep the right person motivated and productive?

Siphiwe Moyo

Ultimately individuals need to be held personally accountable for their own success. Individual effectiveness leads to organisational effectiveness. People make organisations a success, not the other way around. This means you want to create an environment where personal accountability is expected and rewarded.

Fostering accountability begins with fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship within the organisation, also known as intrapreneurship. We recommend giving your team work as if they’re consultants.

Hold one person accountable from beginning to end

Each project should have a start and a finish date; one person should see it through from beginning to end, even if additional team members need to be involved; that individual is held accountable for the ultimate success of the task. This creates an owner/manager culture.

For it to work, you need to give your team members autonomy. Be very clear about the objectives and expectations, what they are accountable for, and that the ultimate profit or loss of the project rests with them.

It’s very difficult to do this with someone who takes no accountability — but on the flip side, within this culture you quickly see who doesn’t fit, and you generally part ways reasonably quickly. Just as you don’t want an individual on your team who doesn’t take responsibility for their own success, so too do these individuals generally not want to be under that level of pressure.

Related: How Maditsi Mphela Pushed Through Business Stagnation To Successfully Scale

What happens if an employee needs to be micro-managed?

Always be transparent. These are tough conversations, we know that, but they have to happen. Generally the employee will complain about being micro-managed, so be frank about why it’s happening.

Tell them that no one trusts they will deliver, and as a result they need to be managed closely. Explain that you’d love to give them more space, but that it must be earned. Start with something small, and then build on it.

Remind them that credibility is not immediate. It needs to be built up over time. Colleagues and managers need to see people deliver before they start to trust their ideas. It’s an incredible thing to achieve though, because once you’ve built that credibility up, people say yes to you. Not your proposals or ideas — to you, the individual.

Remind them about that end goal and why it’s to their benefit to achieve credibility.

For employees who simply do not develop a sense of accountability, you need to have the really tough conversation. You need to remind them that the organisation owes them nothing. They aren’t doing you a favour by coming in each day and not delivering. You are paying them to perform a role that they aren’t fulfilling.

Do performance reviews keep employees motivated?

Managing human capital requires performance management systems. You can’t run an organisation effectively without systems and processes in place. However, the role of reviews has changed over the years.

Most organisations used to have two performance reviews a year. It didn’t work. It became a punitive exercise, pointing out problems long after the fact, instead of using a review system to improve the organisation in real time.

Today, most high-growth organisations favour daily, weekly and monthly interventions. An effective manager handles issues as they arrive. Reviews shouldn’t be punitive. They should be a management tool to get the best from your team.

Related: How Bataung Memorials’ Lebohang Khitsane Disrupted The Age-Old Tombstone Industry

Effective employees require instant feedback. Otherwise what happens in a team? The accountable employee gets all the work. This overloads the star performer and demoralises everyone else. And remember this: Star performers are motivated when they’re surrounded by other star performers — you need to raise the bar for everyone, or the team spirals out of control.

Again, it’s about the uncomfortable conversation: ‘You aren’t rising to the occasion’. It needs to be said so that it can be dealt with, or the behaviour is unlikely to improve.

Should all promotions come from your star performers?

Absolutely not. There’s a perception that a star performer will make a good manager, and this simply isn’t true. Often people are promoted because the organisation feels they’ve earned that promotion, with the end result that they get pushed into a position that doesn’t suit them. Many star performers don’t actually want to be managers — and they’re not good at it. They want to get on with doing what they’re good at.

Okay, but what’s the solution?

Steven Drotten developed a leadership principal that advises two pipelines. One is the traditional management route, and one a specialist route, where you can progress up the ladder without managing people.

These individuals head up projects, budgets, mandates and so on at a senior level — but they aren’t managers. Similarly, if you really get to know your team, you should be able to identify individuals who aren’t necessarily star performers, but who understand the business, their departments and people — in other words, who would be great managers.

Remember, managing is all about getting results through other people. And with a star performer, you might change the job and title, but many just end up doing it themselves anyway, because it’s quicker and easier than managing other people.

It feels normal and natural to a star performer — but it’s the wrong way. If as a manager you aren’t doing what you should be doing, your boss is probably doing your job. There will be a pile-up somewhere. You’re clogging your leadership pipeline.

Is there an effective way to motivate employees?

Unfortunately there are no quick fixes. You can try your best to match them to the place where they can be excited, create a culture of accountability and support them, but ultimately motivation is an inside job. It’s internal. The level of an individual’s intrinsic support determines how motivated they will be in their role. No one will ever be completely motivated by external factors.

So, what can you do? First, hire the right people. Then, link your needs to their purpose, skill-set and motivation — in other words, understand your people, have one-on-ones with them and create safe spaces where they can voice their needs.

Being an effective manager

Effective managers find a way to tap into their team members’ passions and purpose. They trigger their intrinsic motivations, and link them to the organisation’s goals.

Finally, understand how hygiene factors influence motivation. A hygiene factor won’t increase motivation, but it can play a large role in killing motivation across an organisation.

You wouldn’t believe what a big role hygiene factors can play, and yet they are so often dismissed as unimportant. This isn’t unimportant stuff. It can boil over and cause serious organisation-wide demotivators, and yet they’re relatively simple to fix if you look into them. Hygiene factors include lighting, the look and feel of a building, and available parking spaces.

How serious is demotivation?

I consulted for a large organisation that had serious demotivational issues. After interviewing everyone, from management down, we realised that all non-management staff were unified in their hatred for powdered milk — not only that, but managers got fresh milk, and that upset them to an almost unbelievable degree.

It was a massive organisational problem, and yet the solution was so simple that at first the client didn’t believe us. Give everyone fresh milk. That’s it.

The improvement in employee morale was dramatic. We were looking for a serious issue, and yet this was the fix. Never discount hygiene factors.

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

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Lessons Learnt

Can Being Deceptive Help You Build Your Business? It Worked For These 5 Entrepreneurs

We’ve all told little white lies. But what about the big ones? What if telling them would bring your business success?

Jayson Demers



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We all commit little acts of deception, like saying we got stuck in traffic when we were really late to the meeting because we wanted to watch the last five minutes of a favourite TV show. Little white lies? I’ve told them. You’ve told them.

But what about big lies, the kind truly lacking in integrity – like misrepresenting your sales to a prospective investor?

Obviously, there are often severe consequences to lying. Depending on the context, you could lose the trust of a peer, break a professional relationship or even face legal action. Yet, despite these consequences, lying is more common in the entrepreneurial world than you might think.

Just take as an example these five entrepreneurs, who might not be as well known or successful as they are if it weren’t for some clever acts of deception:

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Three Habits That Underpin Entrepreneurial Success

Here are three powerful habits that will help you stay focused, define your entrepreneurial attitude and take your business from zero to hero.

Nicholas Bell




Successful people and businesses don’t all share the same traits and commitments. Yes they all have managed to break barriers and achieve impressive goals. They’re the leaders, the movers, the shakers and the industry creators. However, not all entrepreneurs are created equal and their recipes for success can differ wildly.

Some swear by a three-hour run every morning followed by a nice salad and the bustle of busy work life. Others need an incredibly early start so they can spend time with their emails and focus on their business. Every entrepreneur has their  own secret tricks that keep them on the straight and successful narrow, but most share a few simple habits that are guaranteed to make a difference.

Here are three habits that will help you become better at business and at leading others towards long-term success:

1. Always be ready to change your assumptions

Many people are unable to change the assumptions they have about their business and its future as it evolves. No business model should be locked in cement and rigidly upheld, it will need to adapt and adjust as it grows and customer needs change. As an entrepreneur you need to understand this concept and be prepared to evolve and change in new directions and markets.

Related: Business Plan Format Guide

This also ties into failure. Do you understand why you failed at something? Are you aware that perhaps your business model is changing? Can you learn from these experiences? Can you adjust your business model, get better research, refine your ideas? If you are ready to take positive value out of these moments and experiences, then you are an agile and inspired entrepreneur.

2. There’s no off switch

Passion and commitment are absolutely key to the success of your business and your own personal growth. You can’t switch off or walk away or just take a sick day because you feel like it, not if you want to stand as an example to your employees or if you want to build a brilliant business.

It may sound trite and tired, but a work ethic is the single most important habit to have as an entrepreneur. You need to always hold yourself to the highest standards, commit to ethical practice and work harder than anyone else.

3. Take it personally

This doesn’t mean gentle sobs in your office when Susan from accounts ridicules your maths skills. If you take your business personally, then you are wrapping the skills learned in points 1 and 2 above into one cohesive whole – you are embedding your passion into every crevice of your company. Care about what you do, be passionate about what it stands for, and be prepared to fight for its life. The route from zero to billion-dollar business isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it.

Remember, the idea is only 1%. Sweat, work, commitment and focus are the other 99% of the success equation.

Related: 22 Defining Entrepreneur Characteristics

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Lessons Learnt

Head Of Audi South Africa Shares His Top Lessons On Weathering The Storm In Turbulent Times

When the economy isn’t playing ball, it’s time to roll up your sleeves, face your challenges head-on, and get to work, says Head of Audi SA, Trevor Hill.

Nadine Todd




Vital Stats

  • Player: Trevor Hill
  • Position: Head of Audi South Africa
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“In everything we do, across the organisation, we ask this question: Is it the best? That’s our value proposition. Without it, we don’t have a clear direction for everyone to follow.”

Some of the biggest brands in the world are well-known for keeping things lean. Amazon is a prime example, where even Amazon-branded employee backpacks are reused. Many bloated organisations learnt the hard way in 2008 that if you aren’t efficient and focused on the bottom-line, you’ll struggle to survive in competitive and volatile environments. On the other hand, businesses that were already lean and flexible not only survived the recession — many of them actually thrived, mainly because they were far better equipped to handle new economic realities than their competitors.

According to research conducted by Bain & Co’s authors of The Founder’s Mentality, Chris Zook and James Lane Allen, 85% of the biggest growth challenges large-scale organisations face are internal. This doesn’t mean the economy and competitors don’t matter. But the way leaders and managers of those organisations react to economic and external stimuli does.

Trevor Hill, Head of Audi South Africa, is well-versed on the impact external stimuli can have on a brand — even an established premium brand like Audi South Africa. Economic and political conditions in South Africa have impacted consumer confidence, and the premium vehicle market has experienced year-on-year double digit declines over the past three years. “The premium market is almost half the size it was three years ago in South Africa,” he explains. “Consumer confidence, the high pricing of premium cars, and a general buying down trend have really impacted our market. Three years ago, we were selling close to 20 000 vehicles per year. Today we sell around 10 000 vehicles. You can’t ignore market conditions. You need to face them head on, and do what’s best for your employees, the brand and your consumers.”

Related: 10 Ways To Develop A Success-Oriented Mindset

Here are Trevor’s five lessons for weathering the storm so that your business and brand are well positioned when market recovery begins.

1. Have a clear value proposition that everyone understands and embraces

“We will never be the biggest in the South African market,” says Trevor. “Mercedes-Benz and BMW produce in South Africa and have an advantage over us in terms of export credits. If we can’t be the biggest though, we can focus on being the best. That is entirely within our control.

“Our ‘Best’ strategy says that we want to be the best organisation, have the best product, the best brand and the best customer service. Everything we do must be looked at through this lens – is it the best? If we host an event, have we chosen the best venue, event organisers and caterers? Does the look and feel match our standards? If we can’t be the best — we don’t do it.

“In everything we do, across the organisation, we ask this question: Is it the best? That’s our value proposition. Without it, we don’t have a clear direction for everyone to follow.”

2. Understand what’s in your control and then roll up your sleeves and get it done

The rate cut at the end of 2017 really helped the premium market towards the end of the year. The problem is that there are things you can control — such as running a lean organisation — and things you can’t control, such as whether or not there will be another rate cut. So how do you ensure a proactive culture rather than a defeatist mentality when times are tough?

“The spirit of Audi has always been to challenge boundaries, roll up our sleeves and forge our own future,” says Trevor. “It’s in our ‘Vorsprung’ DNA. This has never been more applicable than when we’re weathering a storm, but it has to be fostered when the waters are calm.”

The theory is straightforward. If an organisation isn’t used to challenging boundaries and being in control of its own destiny, it’s difficult to find those characteristics when they’re really needed. When something is woven into a brand’s DNA, it’s because it’s always there, and the organisation’s entire culture supports it.

Trevor can point to examples everywhere. For example, in the 1980s, Audi was the first car manufacturer to put a five-cylinder engine and four-wheel drive on a rally car, and cleaned up two years in a row as a result.

“The Audi spirit is that you can improve anything. You just need to be willing to put in the work.”

Faced with extremely tough local conditions, the South African team is now doing just that: Rolling up its sleeves and finding solutions.

“This is how we handle the business as a whole. We’ve been completely upfront with head office and our investors about current market conditions, but we aren’t complaining — we’re putting the facts on the table, showing them what we can control, and unpacking how we’re going to see the business rolling forward. Because of that attitude and transparency, we have everyone’s full support.”

3. Never throw money at a problem; smart solutions aren’t necessarily the most expensive


“Spending a fortune on brand campaigns isn’t going to change the reality of the current market conditions,” says Trevor. “It’s easy to throw money at a problem, but then what? We’ve taken a different approach. We’ve selected a number of brand ambassadors whose values really align with our own. These include TBO Touch, Cameron van der Burgh, Wayde van Niekerk and Nomzamo Mbatha. Their followers know what they stand for, and associate Audi with those same values. It’s a much more targeted and niche way to gain awareness for our brand.”

For Trevor, not throwing money at a problem is a value that should be ingrained in an organisation. “We approached 2018 with this value top of mind. At the end of 2017 our management team went away for a strategy session. We collectively took a look at the entire business and asked what we needed to do to drive this business through the stormy waters of 2018.

“Each manager then got a target for their division that was aligned with the other divisions and organisation as a whole. They then conducted individual strategy sessions with their teams. The whole thing was a problem-solving mission: This is the budget we have, this is where our focus needs to be, now how do we go out and deliver the best? What’s our plan?

“These plans were then aligned with each other to ensure everyone was going in the same direction, and we measure everything. My KPIs filter down to the management team, and theirs filter down to their teams. It’s a very inclusive system; everyone can workshop the problem, and in that way we don’t only gather some out-the-box ideas, but we get everyone’s buy-in as well.”

Related: You Need This One Trait To Succeed In Reaching Your Goals

4. Encourage your team to try new things and communicate collaboratively

Very often, individual divisions communicate well together, but the message and camaraderie is lost across divisions, particularly between sales and marketing. “We’ve found two ways to encourage participation and camaraderie across the business,” says Trevor. “The first is that we always encourage new ideas. If something is tried and tested and doing well, especially in marketing, try to own that property. But if something isn’t giving you what you want, change it. We’re often too scared to change things that aren’t working or to try something new. We encourage participation and thinking differently. The bigger your pool of ideas, the more you have to work with.”

The company also has a number of monthly meetings that bring different divisions into the same room for workshop sessions. “We have a lot of field staff who aren’t often in the office. We need to keep communicating with them to pull them into the fold,” explains Trevor. “For example, once a month we have marketing and product meetings. The marketing, product and sales teams all attend. It gives everyone an opportunity to know what’s happening and hash out any questions or issues then and there. The communication between divisions — particularly marketing and sales — is much better as a result.”

5. Keep your core motivated

Like many industries, there’s a lot of employee movement in the consumer and premium brands segment. “People move. That’s the reality of job markets around the world,” says Trevor. But stability is important, and at Audi SA, that means identifying your core employees and keeping them happy.

“We have a very strong core. Within the organisation we’ve identified a core group of employees whom we absolutely need if we’re going to continue to run this business efficiently and successfully. Once you’ve identified your core, you need to keep them happy, and that’s about a lot more than their paycheque.

“Different people want different things — advancement, developing their careers, an opportunity to work abroad or perhaps spend more time with their families at home.”

The lesson? Figure out what’s important to each member of your core and try your best to give it to them. Success is a team sport — you need to keep that core team in your corner.


Trevor Hill began his career with Audi as an area manager in 1989. In 1997 he left South Africa to join Audi’s head office in Germany. Since then he has headed up divisions in Germany, Japan, China, Dubai and South Korea. One of the biggest lessons he’s learnt through his travels is that while there are certain business fundamentals that hold true everywhere, each culture has its own way of doing business, and you need to understand what that is on the ground if you’re going to make an impact and be successful.

“One of the biggest things I’ve had to communicate back to head office is that each territory operates slightly differently,” explains Trevor. “For example, in Germany, you have 100 days in any new job to prove yourself. If you don’t make something happen in those 100 days, you’re not seen to be successful. This is impossible in Asia, where business is all about relationships. You have to develop a relationship based on trust and honesty, and that doesn’t happen overnight. Until you have that trust though, your employees and customers won’t work with you. When you enter a new territory, take your time. The first year is all about understanding the lay of the land. In the second year you can implement your strategy, and in the third year you can start reaping rewards.”

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