Part of my job at work is to train employees, brought on my shift, everything they need to know in able to effectively support me in completing duties. I work over-night shift, which is very laboring and demanding in time-efficiency & urgency. I am forced to multitask and perform at my highest energy level in order to complete tasks and projects by a specific deadline (the end of my shift).
Generally, over-night shift consists of seven to eight hours starting at midnight and ending at seven in the morning, however, on some nights that are particularly busy and/or multiple tasks needed to be finished, I find myself getting into my shift around ten at night and not leaving until eight or nine in the morning. It may seem like an easy and boring shift, however, the time feels as if it passes faster over-night and with all the work needed to be done by the crew, it makes it difficult and stressful.
When new and energetic employees come on my shift, it is increasingly difficult having to finish my job while also teaching others how to do it. Although, overtime, I have learned quickly how to multitask the two and still be able to complete everything on time. Completing the tasks is not my biggest concern, however.
My biggest struggle with training new employees is pushing them through their “Motivational Plateau.” When a person is new and fresh to anything, they have a high level of energy and motivation to do a great job and prove them self to their superiors. My more experienced co-workers see this as, “Wow. He/she is a really hard worker isn’t he/she? They’ve been busting their ass all night!” However, I always disagree and say the same thing, “Give them time. They haven’t shown me their true colors yet. I’m waiting until they reach their plateau. Once they reach that point, I’ll break them. Then, I’ll have an opinion.”
When a trainee reaches a point of exhaustion and sluggish performance within their work, I describe it as them hitting their “Motivational Plateau.” It is a point at which a person stops improving in performance due to the lack of motivation within their job. At this phase, their work ethic settles down and is vulnerable to developing bad habits and flaws in efficiency and productivity. Generally, this can be first seen within two months post-“hire date.”
An employee who has hit a plateau has lost focus on what they want or need. Mainly, tge reason why they hit the first plateau is because they either failed or succeeded at making a good “first impression” and they do not know what else to shoot for. They have no remaining motivation that they felt when they were learning and/or experiencing new aspects of their position and performing to prove themselves.
This is the best opportunity for me, however. I get to grasp an idea of their legitimate work ethic and abilities so that I may be able to help them adjust and learn how to perform in an efficient and productive manner. Their performance that they have shown me within the first two months has no gauge on how they will work for me in the months after.
Therefore, it is crucial for me to realize that they will all have imperfections and I need to break them of those bad habits so that I may be able to send them on the way to fruition. However, it is important that I act quickly and efficiently before it is too late and they have adjusted to their own pandemonium of bad habits and cutting corners to get out of work on time.
As my staff begins to reach a plateau, I have to find a way to break them through it. The first struggle about this is that every individual has a specific way of being motivated. The second struggle is whether or not a worker has personal motivation and/or passion for their job. It is especially difficult because I can’t put motivation and passion in people, they must build that up for themselves. The only way I can help them towards this is helping them find something that motivates them. As I learn who they are and what their attitude is, this becomes easier for me to help them find what they need.
As I set the tone, I have to push others to keep up with my standards to get things done. They have learned the basics of completing specific tasks and projects and now I am to demonstrate the “right way” of finishing them with attention on details. I strive for perfection and infinite improvement. I am trying to change their mindset while at work so that they feel that it is important for them to get it done and done right. If they complete their tasks and I ask them how they feel about getting them done and they don’t feel anything, I did something wrong.
Eventually, as they begin to break their bad habits of cutting corners and putting in only 50% effort then building good habits with a better attitude, I throw them in the deep end. I have them doing everything at once, on their own, and with some added duties they must complete so that they may feel a “sense of urgency.”
If they complete everything to my standards, I praise them and point out all the good things they did. Of course, they most likely made several mistakes; however, I feel it is important to have overall positive reinforcement for their actions so that they may feel motivated to keep striving for more. On the other hand, if they fail to complete their tasks and projects, I do the complete opposite and set a disappointing mood for them as I point out all the mistakes they had made while not acknowledging completed work. This will again help them strive for improvement.
As new employees break through their first plateau, it becomes easier to break through them in the future. Some individuals are more easily motivated than others. Some of them may only find themselves at a plateau for a week. Some take as long as two to three months. Although, if I notice an individual is starting to settle into a plateau from prolong lack of motivation, I must take a different approach and either talk with them about it in a professional manner or push them to their limits (which has risky outcomes).
I have had many struggles with dealing with different individuals, but I have a way of figuring out what a person wants or needs and cultivating it into their motivation so to increase their productivity and performance. It is especially hard when one is just working to come in, rack up hours, and leave. I don’t get mad at these individuals, however, when they do need something from me, I am not going to be the one who suddenly drops everything for them when they don’t give me the effort. If they want something or want to strive for something, I’m going to show them how hard they have to work for it.
My respect for my employees is directly gauged by work ethic, self-accountability/responsibility for work & tasks, and how they break through the “motivational plateau.” They don’t have to be the fastest, they don’t have to be the smartest – they just have to care about their job. I want to see how far they’re willing to go for me and that will gain me immediate respect and willingness to get them anywhere they want to go.
I shared a glimpse of my work-life to better explain my words of wisdom for today. I tend not to talk about my job outside of work, because I believe work and home are two completely different entities. I have different personalities and characteristics for each. No, I am not schizophrenic. I simply believe that work and home should remain separated and never confused with one another. You will notice that my mood while writing the anecdote above was a lot different than my writing style now. Because of my beliefs about work and home retaining separate mindsets, is why they are distinguished.
Today, however, I make an exception so to talk about the “Motivational Plateaus” we deal with in our daily “home” lives. Generally, we see this phase a lot within the contrasts of our relationships. As we engage in a new relationship with someone we care and are passionate about, we start with great memories and fun times. People often refer this as the “honeymoon” phase – no fighting, no stress, and no apparent imperfections/flaws in character. There is a lot of motivation and high-energy within the beginning of a relationship. We put most of our energy and focus into the other person. However, as time goes on and we begin to settle down a little more as we are more comfortable with our partner, the rough patches are exposed, at which point fighting begins and the relationship takes a more serious turn.
At that moment, we hit that “Motivational Plateau” within the relationship. We do not put all of our energy into the relationship anymore and our attention starts focusing on ourselves rather than our partner. As these focuses change, imperfections become apparent. Instead of letting these imperfections pass by, we use these as excuses for our lack of commitment in the relationship as arguments rise.
Sometimes, because we end up among this plateau, the relationship falls apart and ends without intention. However, we can break through this plateau and make sure that we still end up with the same person we adored during the “honeymoon” phase. All we have to do is figure out what we want/need in the present or future from the relationship and motivate ourselves to work hard so that we can build the bond stronger than ever before.
We also need to express our wants and needs with our partner in able for both sides to be motivated and work together to make it happen. If only one person is working towards breaking through the plateau, there will be only one happy person in the relationship. Communication and trust are the key ingredients to a happy and loving relationship. We must have both to break through.
Relationships are not the only examples for “motivational plateaus”. There are many other interactions we are involved in that this concept applies to. We need to find something that motivates us when we hit that point. Something that we want or need out of it. When we find that, we can keep that in mind as we keep pushing for excellence and break through the plateau – constantly climbing higher until you reach the peak.
“If you think you’ve made it, you’re at the wrong place, never stop.”