What is a motivated person? How do we recognise them? How do we define motivation? These are questions that my colleagues, our clients and I mull over every day of the week.
There are certain key methods that should be implemented by all managers hoping for a happy and productive team:
1. Lead by example
If you want motivated employees, you need to be a role model for motivation. If you need your team to engage more fully with your client base, then lead the way and demonstrate how the job should be done. If you need your employees at their work stations and working by 9.00am, you should be at your desk and working on time also.
2. Cultivate your caring, sharing environment
No employee should be motivated by fear or guilt. An employer may get what he or she wants in the short term with these tactics, but in the long term you are faced with a workforce who knows it is being manipulated and in time will be angry, resentful and lacking loyalty. If employees feel that their employer is fair, and that they are valued and respected this will engender commitment and enthusiasm for their role and the company as a whole.
3. Focus on the individual
Always remember that your team is made up of individuals, and listening to individual needs and worries is the most positive action an employer can take in preventing their staff from looking for jobs elsewhere. Make sure you talk to your employees on a regular basis. It doesn’t need to be a formal review, a chat over a cup of coffee can offer some insight into staff morale.
4. Incentives and rewards
By setting up an incentive programme an employer can reward his or her staff whilst tying in an individual’s hard work to the growth and profitability of the business. Non-cash rewards, whether on a weekly or monthly basis, give staff that added recognition that can motivate them to go the extra mile, not just occasionally, but on a consistent basis. Gift certificates, travel vouchers or simply a meal in a local restaurant also serve to remind your employee that his or her contribution to the business is highly valued and appreciated.
5. Be transparent
You don’t need to divulge every last financial secret to the tea-lady or the man who cleans the windows, but if you keep your staff in the dark, they can’t help you steer the company in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to share with your employees your vision of the future for your company, and their place in it. If you involve your people in future plans, it will simply be easier to get their buy in.
6. Have realistic expectations
Employees respond to reasonable, realistic requests. Many of us work in a highly pressurised environment in which excessive demands from on high will not necessarily produce better results. Gradually raising expectations in line with personal development and confidence should help to ease any growing pains.
7. Flex to grow
Gone are the days of nine-to-five, Monday to Friday and, along with reward and incentives, flexibility is another way to show your staff you are going the extra mile to keep them happy. Remember, telling your workforce it’s my way or the high way is a sure-fire way of increasing staff turnover. On the other hand, a little flexibility on your part in the short term will help ensure a loyal, appreciative workforce in the long term.
8. Giving thanks
Without your staff, you have no business. It may be a small thing, and an inexpensive one too, but heartfelt thanks and appreciation from employer to employee for their hard work, will work wonders in keeping the team happy, loyal and pulling in the right direction.
A common complaint made by staff is that they are neither told nor consulted enough, and whilst this may be largely the product of reflex rather than reflection it is nevertheless an issue worth addressing – and being seen to do so. E-mail is a wonderful tool in many respects, but such a poor replacement for a face-to-face conversation.
10. Long term development
Work, like sport, has a field of play, we hire people in with some skills and if we are sensible commit to a long-term plan for their development. So every pound spent on giving people more meaning and effectiveness to their work will result in better corporate performance. Not least because those that train well tend to hang on to their best people.
Self-evidently you can’t succeed if you don’t know what you are being asked to achieve. And you can’t celebrate (vital for motivation) unless you know when you’ve scored. The attainment of an important milestone, in whatever form it takes, should be measured, acknowledged and rewarded accordingly.
Motivation, of course, is not a steady state. It needs to be constantly worked upon and invested in. But if you are looking around one day and find yourself in a happy place, the chances are you have hit upon the right blend of communication, learning, measurement and reward. And the chances are you are holding on to your best people, who continue to deliver great performance.
David Evans is chair and CEO of performance improvement business Grass Roots.
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