"Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence."
--- Laurence J Peter
Even after you've poured in all the training possible to bring your team up to the needed skill level to allow your business to succeed, you may still witness stagnant productivity levels. The problem might not be the lack of talent or skill set, but a lack of concentration and motivation. This is not as difficult to correct as you might think.
"Concentration is the secret of strength in politics, in war, in trade, in short in all management of human affairs."
--- Ralph Waldo Emerson
You never really know what is going on in the head of your team members. Some people wear their emotions on their sleeves, while others will never let on what is going on in their lives.
We all carry other baggage with us to work, but some are better able to focus and to generate their own internal motivation than others. Here are a few tips to help to bring out the "Umph" in those who have the skills, but lack the motivation:
"Santa is even-tempered. Santa does not hit children over the head who kick him. Santa uses the term folks rather than Mommy and Daddy because of all the broken homes. Santa does not have a three-martini lunch. Santa does not borrow money from store employees. Santa wears a good deodorant."
--- To employees of Western Temporary Services, world's largest supplier of Santa Clauses
First, determine what turns people on. This is really not that difficult to do, but will require patience and time on your part. You will need to monitor your team members and make notes regarding their high productivity levels and their environment during that time period.
Start with your "troubled children" first. You know the ones. These are the ones that you have not terminated their employment because you see the potential in them. Perhaps they've performed well in the past, but are in a slump right now. Begin with these folks and even if you can only monitor one at a time, do it. Note, for example that on Fridays, their performance is better. Maybe this is an indication that they are looking forward to the weekend, or they know it is payday, etc.
"The bane of Americans is overwork--and the ruin of any work is a divided interest. Concentrate-concentrate. One thing at a time."
--- Mark Twain
Also note the various tasks that they go through in order to complete a project. This is also known as a work-flow assessment. You should try to do this without their knowledge in the beginning.
Second, with your collected data, come up with your own conclusion as to what will motivate them. It is ok to guess at this point.
Thirdly, discuss with the team member what it is that motivates them. Let him or her know what you think it is. Allow them to agree or disagree, but get them talking about what will light their fire once again. If they say money, more vacation, etc. be open to their ideas. They may eventually reveal what it is that really lights their fire.
"Management is nothing more than motivating other people."
--- Lee Iacocca
Finally, using your collected data, including the interview information, come up with a formula that benefits both the team member and the company. You will find that it is usually not money that is the motivator. Sometimes it is simply a misunderstanding from weeks or months ago that was festering in this individual.
"The way you see them is the way you treat them and the way you treat them is the way they often become."
--- Zig Ziglar