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Must-Read Books on Employee Motivation

Plastics Business

A solid organizational plan and stellar leadership will not move a company forward if employees are not engaged and working toward the end goal. These four books represent some of the best on motivating the people working within your facilities. Not surprisingly, employee motivation starts at the top – leadership must be prepared to empower, educate and empathize with those who carry out daily operations.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Author: Daniel H. Pink
Released: April 5, 2011

Most people believe the best way to motivate is with rewards such as money – the carrot-and-stick approach. That's a mistake, says Daniel H. Pink. In this provocative and persuasive new book, he asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction – at work, at school and at home – is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does – and how that affects every aspect of life. He examines the three elements of true motivation – autonomy, mastery and purpose – and offers smart and surprising techniques for putting these into action in a unique book that will change how we think and transform how we live.

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Author: Simon Sinek
Released: Jan. 7, 2014

Why do only a few people get to say “I love my job”? It seems unfair that finding fulfillment at work is like winning a lottery; that only a few lucky ones get to feel valued by their organizations and that they belong.

Imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, then returns home feeling fulfilled. This is not a crazy, idealized notion. Today, in many successful organizations, great leaders are creating environments in which people naturally work together to do remarkable things.

In his travels around the world since the publication of his bestseller Start with Why, Simon Sinek noticed that some teams were able to trust each other so deeply that they would literally put their lives on the line for each other. Other teams, no matter what incentives were offered, were doomed to infighting, fragmentation and failure. Why?

The answer became clear during a conversation with a Marine Corps general. “Officers eat last,” he said.

Sinek watched as the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. What’s symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield: great leaders sacrifice their own comfort – even their own survival – for the good of those in their care.

Today’s workplaces tend to be full of cynicism, paranoia and self-interest. But the best organizations foster trust and cooperation because their leaders build what Sinek calls a Circle of Safety that separates the security inside the team from the challenges outside. The Circle of Safety leads to stable, adaptive, confident teams, where everyone feels they belong and all energies are devoted to facing the common enemy and seizing big opportunities.

Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders

Author: L. David Marquet
Release Date: May 16, 2013

David Marquet, an experienced Navy officer, was used to giving orders. As newly appointed captain of the USS Santa Fe, a nuclear-powered submarine, he was responsible for more than a hundred sailors. In this high-stress environment, where there is no margin for error, it was crucial his men do their job and do it well, but the ship was dogged by poor morale, poor performance and the worst retention in the fleet.

Marquet acted like any other captain until, one day, he unknowingly gave an impossible order, and his crew tried to follow it anyway. When he asked why the order wasn’t challenged, the answer was, “Because you told me to.” Marquet realized he was leading in a culture of followers, and they were all in danger unless they fundamentally changed the way they did things.

Turn the Ship Around! is the true story of how the Santa Fe skyrocketed from worst to first in the fleet by challenging the U.S. Navy’s traditional leader-follower approach. Struggling against his own instincts to take control, he instead achieved the vastly more powerful model of giving control. No matter the business or position, leaders can apply Marquet’s radical guidelines to turn their own ships around. The payoff: a workplace where everyone takes responsibility for their actions, where people are healthier and happier and where everyone is a leader.

The Enemy of Engagement: Put an End to Workplace Frustration – and Get the Most from Your Employees

Author: Mark Royal and Tom Agnew
Released: Oct. 28, 2011

A lot of frustrated people can be found in most workplaces today. It’s not just the incorrigible office grump or the permanent slacker. Instead, it refers to dedicated workers who are prevented from achieving their peak potential by organizational obstacles. Better enabling these employees to succeed represents an untapped avenue for radically improving productivity.

Packed with the latest research findings from the prestigious Hay Group, The Enemy of Engagement uncovers the hidden impediments to performance – excessive procedures, lack of resources, overly narrow roles, and more – and outlines best-practice solutions for eliminating them. This is not an insignificant issue facing businesses today. According to Hay Group’s study, depending on the industry, between one-third and one-half of employees report work conditions that keep them from being as productive as they could be.

The Enemy of Engagement gives managers powerful new insights and research-based tools for ensuring their teams are both willing and able to make maximum contributions.

Book summaries provided by the publishing entity.