When one manager was asked how he motivated his employees he dryly responded, “I give them a paycheck for getting the job done or I give them the axe.” That type of “motivation” may work for some people, but chances are your best employees may prefer a friendlier approach. If not, they may soon leave your stead for a less hostile work environment.
1. Articulate what is expected. Do your employees understand what is expected of them? This information should be laid out in your employee manual and made clear when people are considered for employment and again as a condition of hiring. Your employees need to know what parameters you have set and how they can reach the goals you have set before them.
2. Always be clear. Muddled language can get everyone into trouble. Make known your company’s policies and endeavor to be consistent from top to bottom. Outwardly showing favoritism can hurt you, demoralizing your charges and harming production.
3. Give them incentives. The example of the manager who offered a paycheck and nothing else as motivation is what you want to avoid. Certainly, a paycheck and benefits are expected, but an incentives program to raise your employees to the next level can be smart and even low cost. For instance, if a project is completed on time, you can reward your staff with lunch or allow them to leave early on a summer Friday afternoon.
4. Lay out goals. Your company has general goals that you want to seek. You also can give individual employees goals for attainment. Make these goals clear, realistic and attainable. Explain how bonuses or a reward can factor in based on personal performance.
5. Offer consistent and regular feedback. Goals are often annual and may drive your employee’s next raise. In the interim, regular evaluations can help your people know whether they’re on the right path or if adjustments need to be made. You can head off problems by meeting with individual employees on a quarterly basis to review performance and to outline the steps needed to reach a goal.
6. Empower your employees. Allow your employees to make some business decisions for themselves. For instance, if you manage a call center, you can empower your employees to provide refunds to customers up to a certain amount without managerial approval. You might also allow your best employees to upgrade customer services at no charge to a customer. Empowered employees are motivated employees, individuals that know that you trust them and should respond in kind.
7. Educate your employees. Motivated employees are trained employees. Setting aside money to keep your employees trained will aid in motivation. You may risk losing your best employees to your competitors, but you also stand the chance of keeping them around by providing an education benefit. Go beyond the seminars and training classes to offer college course reimbursement.
Not every employee is motivated in the same ways. Some people prefer a financial incentive, others time off, while still others may want the opportunity to advance. Having your employees’ best interests in mind can lead to a motivated and highly productive workforce, positively impacting your bottom line as well. By all means avoid supporting the customary employer-employee hostile relationship that some companies maintain, by demonstrating to your employees that they are part of a winning team.
See Also — 7 Small Business Hiring Strategies