Communications in Business Questions and Answers

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How can a manager respond to his resistant team when he has an increased budget but no increase in staff? The existing communication team at a hospital is resisting new obligations, claiming they are already overworked and underappreciated. The team's manager as been given an additional $15,000 but no new staff with which to meet the new goal.

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Walter Fischer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In motivating a reluctant workforce, oftentimes the "carrot and stick" approach to management is appropriate.  Within reasonable boundaries, employees are paid to follow the instructions of their superiors, and are expected to do so without complaining or causing dissension.  For these reasons, the manager can both offer incentives for performance and, conversely, threats of termination of employment for nonperformance.  Both tactics are entirely appropriate.

The "carrot" part of the equation can mean any number of incentives.  Depending upon how much of the $15,000 is required for new equipment, or to repair existing equipment, any balance can be used to offer financial incentives to the employees to carry out the additional workload.  The promise of monetary bonuses is a powerful incentive for most employees.  In the event the money is not available for that purpose, then employees can be offered additional vacation days, or even "off-site" workdays at a venue not usually associated with labor.

The "stick," as indicated, is more powerful than the carrot.  Threatening the jobs of the reluctant employees, while possibly extreme depending upon the circumstances, is a very persuasive means of communicating the gravity of the situation to disgruntled employees.  Especially in a constrained job market, the risk of losing one's jobs is usually sufficient incentive to accept the additional workload.

Should termination of employment be considered too extreme, suspensions without pay for a week or two weeks can also be a powerful motivator.

These tactics assume that the team manager has been unable to convince his staff of the need to step up its efforts through verbal persuasion, or through example, such as visibly taking upon him or herself some of the additional work, as well as working weekends as a demonstration of commitment.

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