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Motivate Your Coworkers

Originally published
Originally published: 9/1/2017

I believe motivating is inspiring people to take action — hopefully, positive action. The ability to motivate comes naturally to some leaders but more are not blessed with the characteristic. Clearly, companies that have motivated coworkers produce better results and have less coworker turnover.

I doubt many owners and leaders realize the opportunity they themselves have in getting their coworkers to behave in the manner they would like for them to behave. Those owners and other leaders do not realize how closely the coworkers are watching them. I’ve seen company after company where the coworkers actually emulate the owner, particularly if he or she has a lot of presence in the company.

Here is a principle in which I deeply believe: As an owner or leader in your company, your beliefs — the issues you bring up in your discussions and in your presentations, the thoughts or opinions that you verbalize, certainly your attitude and your feelings — will result in actions by your coworkers.

Coworkers want to see commitment from the top. Tom Peters’ and Bob Waterman’s book, “In Search of Excellence,” released back in 1982 is one of my all-time very favorite business books. In the book they talk about Management by Walking Around (MBWA). This is an extremely effective management principle.

Effective leaders ensure rewards. Coworkers are motivated to take positive action and will do what you would like them to do if you will share in the rewards.


For a long while this was a difficult thing for me to do and I don’t know why, as I’ve always loved to be recognized. Practice the old saying: recognize people in front of others, discipline people in private.

Recognizing people is not difficult. Here are two examples: “Ken, thanks for going out to Mrs. Jones’ house late last night and taking care of her AC problem. We all know that she can be tough to work with and I really appreciate what you did”.

Another example is: “Cindy, you do a great job of dispatching the service techs. You are always here and you have a great positive and enthusiastic attitude. You are a good influence on the techs. Thanks, I appreciate it.”

Think about this. Your remark was true and Cindy knows it. You just made Cindy’s day and it only took a few minutes of your time.

Another habit I developed was to occasionally send a personal letter of thanks to a selected coworker’s home. It was not a card or a short note but a full page from the big boss.


We should be concerned about improving our coworkers’ esteem and how it can lead to motivation and improved positive results.

It’s our job as leaders to help our coworkers feel better about themselves.

Customers enjoy and appreciate being served by confident people with pride in what they are doing. Each coworker should be furnished a stock of your company’s business cards with their name printed on them. In addition to the cards contributing to a coworker’s self-esteem, you can train them on the proper use of their cards as a method of contributing to sales.


I always wanted our coworkers to earn a lot of money through our company’s spiff program. It means the company is getting business and making money and the coworkers are benefitting.

I pay spiffs for the sale of residential service agreements, the renewal of the agreements, on the sale of various system enhancement products (accessories), on the sale of replacement systems, on sales leads leading to a presentation on a replacement system (whether or not the customer invests in the system) and on the sale of a duct cleaning job.

Generally, spiffs are thought of as something only a service technician can earn. But, I believe it’s important to broaden the opportunity beyond just service technicians and make them available to all coworkers (although the techs certainly have greatest opportunity and will generally earn the most money from spiffs).

It is difficult to come up with spiff opportunities for installers, however they do at times get a customer to invest in a system enhancement product.

I did invent another way of helping them earn spiffs and at the same time save the company money. We perform a quality assurance audit after each replacement installation. If the job requires absolutely no corrective action and if it is neat and professional appearing the installation crew earns a spiff. We also have the customer complete a brief performance evaluation and based on the results of the evaluation the installers can earn another spiff.

Career Growth

I learned the hard and expensive way that everyone does not want to be a high achiever. Some people simply want to come to work when they are supposed to, put in a good day’s work and go home at the normal quitting time.

I didn’t understand that kind of thinking as I, and many of the people I had chosen to be around me, basically worked all of the time and we were driven to do our jobs better and keep growing the company. As a result I experienced far too much turnover. I learned the other people who were just doing their jobs and doing them well were supporting us in their way and I developed a deep appreciation of them.

To accommodate the career minded outside coworkers we developed both a Service and Maintenance Technician Wage Plan and a little later an Installer Wage Plan. The Service and Maintenance Wage Plan identified four classes of maintenance technicians and six classes of service technicians.

Each of the classes had a matching wage rate and a brief description of the required skills. We also developed a technical test for each of the classes. The wage plan was always made readily available to all technicians and clearly laid out the way they could progress to higher pay grades if they wished to do so.

The wage plan was based purely upon technical skills. It has nothing to do with a technician’s ability to get customers to invest in our products and services. You can do that quite well with your spiff program.

There are three ways a technician can make more money. The first is to improve their technical skills and ask to be tested for the next class with a matching higher wage rate, the second is to get more customers to invest in the company’s products and services and earn spiffs. The third is to do both of the above two methods.

Working for a Good Company

Although most of us haven’t thought about it in this way actually working for a good company is quite a reward in itself. Frankly, I believe that although there are a lot of contracting companies in our industry there are fewer good companies than there should be. Incidentally, in my opinion my previous remark is not limited to only the HVACR industry.

A few years ago I read a renowned national consulting company’s detailed report on coworker job satisfaction within the home services industry. And, as an HVAC residential retail company you are in the home service business.

When the coworkers were asked how well they liked their jobs the overall response was not pretty. A person spends a lot of time at their job. It’s a shame to be in the wrong company.



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