If the key to keeping and motivating people was as easy as just throwing money at it - then paying the highest hourly wage would be the only strategy you'd ever need.

But it's not; not by a long shot.

Let me tell you a story..

When I was 16, I worked in a local department store.

Myself, and about a half a dozen other guys, were called 'number three's', yeah, no kidding, they actually called us # 3's, don't ask me why, I have no idea.

Anyway, our duties as # 3's, included such 'glamorous' jobs as emptying trash, gathering clothes hangers, packing up orders to be sent by mail as well as..

'jumping on' and restraining the occasional wild eyed

shoplifter - to help the security staff out

Those were the basic duties.

But there were other nastier duties we would find ourselves doing that I won't go into in detail here about, other than to say....it was 1976, and back then, when there was a 'problem' in one of the bathrooms, it wasn't just a leaky faucet - nope, someone may have had an 'accident'.

AND they didn't call the hazmat team in...no.. they called us...the old reliable # 3's!

On the intercom... '# 3, please report to the men's restroom on the 2nd floor immediately!"..."# 3, please report to the men's restroom on the 2nd floor - immediately!'

And, again, without getting too graphic, let me just say, that when we got these emergency calls, it wasn't as simply as filling a paper towel dispensers! Nope, it sure wasn't....anyway....

So why do I tell you this?

Well, it's because... strange as it may seem, I actually loved that job, and so did most other # 3's.

Why?

Really - how in the world could we have all loved that job??

Well, here's the 'million dollar' secret reason....

Because the boss showed a genuine interest in us.

That's right, while he had more than enough to keep him busy overseeing everything going on in that dept. store, he took the time to get to know each of use personally, to look out for us.

He asked how we were doing, encouraged us, and complimented us when I did something worth complimenting.

Let me share one example.

One day, he pulled me aside to tell me how good of a worker I was, and just wanted to let me know that I would always have a job with them and if I wanted to advance with the company - the door was open!

He saw in me the best of what I was.. and could be.

I loved that job.

I worked hard at that job. I stayed at there and I advanced into management at that job.

And I did it all, to a great degree - because of that one man.

Ultimately, I became an Operations Manager of one of the company's department stores just like the man who had coached and guided me!

On a side note, that same man, my boss, died not too many years later from brain cancer.

But, I have never forgotten him, and I expect I never will.

I cannot, however, remember what I was being paid per hour at the job. Interesting.

Sure, I'll grant you I wouldn't have worked there if I wasn't being paid, but it tells you something important about what kept me there, motivated me to work hard there and then stay on to move into management.

With what you hear on the news every day, you might be tempted to be cynical and think people are different now - that they won't respond to coaching and encouragement the way people did years ago.

Don't believe it. People are still people. They want to feel a part of something where they're appreciated.

And when they do, you may be surprised to see how willing they are deliver the amount of work and level of service, they know and you know, they're capable of.

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