Hattie Elliot on Finding Better Ways to Motivate Small Business Employees

In Chapter 19 of 19 in her 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, female entrepreneur Hattie Grace Elliot answers "How Are You Learning to Better Manage and Motivate Teams?"  Elliot learns to separate her perspective as an owner from that of employees working at a small business for a job.  Elliot learns to strike a balance motivating employees by providing monetary compensation and emotional compensation. 

Hattie Grace Elliot is the founder and CEO of The Grace List, a social networking company that creates destination events and experiences to forge lasting personal and professional connections across its young professional members. Elliot graduated from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where she studied economics, philosophy, and politics.


Erik Michielsen: How are you learning to better manage and motivate teams?

Hattie Elliot: It’s easy for me to stay motivated with my business because it’s my baby, you know? I own it. It’s kind of—there’s no separation of church and state, it’s my everything. When people are working for you, you know, as much as they might, you know, like what they’re doing, and believe in you, and like the business, it’s different than when you’re an owner, so there’s a few different things that are really important in motivating people. People need to pay their bills, like there’s—there’s monetarily compensating someone. And I’ve learned, you know, with my business, ways to do that is scaled, not just—let’s say paying a—just kind of a normal salary but really scaling it based on performance. Especially it’s a win-win as a small business owner, because, you know, if they’re bringing in money and business, like, hey, I am more than happy to share the wealth, you know, everyone wins.

If you’re really underperforming, and you’re not really working your tail off, then, you know, your monetary compensation is gonna reflect that, so that’s actually been kind of striking that balance and figuring out how to monetarily compensate people so they also feel really valued, and it motivates them is important. Just kind of I would say emotional compensation, really not—really when someone does something that’s great and wonderful, and it’s beneficial, encouraging it, acknowledging it, when they mess up, acknowledging that too which is hard, but doing it in a way that’s productive, so you’re not just, you know, putting them down, and like kind of cutting it off there, but you’re giving them an alternative or a suggestion, a way to do their job better, to be better, to craft it because I always try to empower my employees and people I work with, because I feel like whether they work—I mean they’re not gonna work for me forever, you know, hopefully, they go out and they, you know, end up being a big baller, starting a hugely successful business or working for a big corporation making millions.

I can’t guarantee I’ll ever be able to pay them that, but at least then you’re really empowering them with skills, and confidence, and tools, so—that they can really use and are beneficial to them personally later on. And I think when you proposition and position it that way that they really appreciate it and also feel much more responsibility to kind of performing because you know when you’re very protective and you—and you encourage them, they also feel kind of more accountable towards doing a really good job for you.