Mar 27 2013

Motivating Collectors – The Herzberg Continuum

One of the most important theories in managerial motivation comes from Frederick Herzberg (1923-2000). For many years, his “Two-Factor” theory of job satisfaction has largely defined the landscape of modern business motivation.

In short, Herzberg explains that there are two factors affecting employee satisfaction (and by extension, productivity) which he terms hygiene and motivation.

“Hygiene Factors” are the baseline standards of the employee/employer relationship. These include company policy, supervisor relations, work conditions, and salary. Fair hygiene factors create satisfied workers.

Once these hygiene factors have been met, however, and an employee is satisfied, increasing emphasis on them creates little or no return in motivation. Another set of tools is needed to move an employee from satisfied to motivated.

Herzberg’s second area, “Motivating Factors,” includes achievement, recognition, feeling a value in work, and responsibility. Unlike hygiene factors, which have diminishing returns on greater investment, motivating factors have no upper limit. A greater investment in motivation has the increasing potential to lead greater motivation in employees.

I’ve created a little chart illustrating what I call the Herzberg Continuum and applied it specifically to managing collectors. You can download a page-sized version by right-clicking on the image and choosing download.

The Herzberg Continuum

Because motivating factors work on satisfied collectors and hygiene factors only work on poor collectors, it’s important to know where your people are on the continuum before applying a good motivational strategy.

Poor Collectors

  • Are absent more frequently,
  • Steal time (they are late to start, but great at leaving on time),
  • Have a lot lame excuses,
  • Generally exhibit poor performance,
  • And take up an inordinate amount of managerial time.

Satisfied Collectors

  • Are good workers, and okay performers,
  • Are disinterested in extra work or responsibility,
  • Are ambivalent to rewards (monetary or other),
  • View work as a contract, meaning they do exactly what is asked, no more and expect the same from their employer,
  • And when faced with a problem, they look immediately to others to solve it.

Motivated Collectors

  • Are generally on board with whatever program or policy is in place – they don’t complain,
  • Go the extra mile when required,
  • Feel satisfaction from the work that they do,
  • View their work relationship in a “If I work hard for my employer, they will stand by me,” attitude,
  • Are generally positive and productive,
  • Respond well to contests and bonus programs,
  • And when faced with a problem, they act and do everything they can to solve it.

Ultimately, true motivation comes from within which means that some will excel despite their environment and others could be working in the best conditions possible and still perform poorly. The best we, as employers and managers, can do is create an environment conducive to a motivated attitude and either work-with or let go those who choose to choose to not be engaged.

About the author

Shaffer ButtarsShaffer Buttars has 20 years experience in the collections software industry ranging from product management to installations. While visiting hundreds of collection centers, he saw the need for improved collector focus and motivation to help both supervisors and collectors work to their potential.  He founded CollectorTech to provide tools and services that improve focus, visibility, and motivation to collection operations.
When not communing with a computer screen, Shaffer is an avid backpacker, hammock camper, Tenkara fisherman and stunt kite flyer. He loves music and has performed in a capella bands as both bass and vocal percussion. He lives in the beautiful Northwest US with his wife and four children.


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2 comments on “Motivating Collectors – The Herzberg Continuum

    • Good idea, thanks. You’ll now find a little print button at the bottom of each post. it does not show on the main page, but in the individual blog post. It will also let you email the post or convert it to PDF.

      Shaffer Buttars on said:

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