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Employee Motivation - 10 Ways to Make a Difference

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In challenging economic times it is natural for most people to lose some level of enthusiasm. When we cut costs and people around us lose jobs and even their homes, our desire to take on the “biggest and baddest” challenge at work can falter. But in these times, the last thing we need is lost productivity and less passion. In fact, what we really need is to raise the bar and get more productivity and creativity from our people.

Can you motivate your employees to do more? There are many differing theories on the psychology of motivation but the one area where there is agreement, is that people do things for their own reasons, not yours. Motivation isn’t something you can give someone -employees have to motivate themselves. But you can make a difference.

Here are the top 10 things you can do to create a climate that will inspire your employees to be motivated to do their best work and achieve the results you desire.

1. Know the Concerns of Your Employees

Do they feel appreciated and listened to? Take the time to talk to them and discuss their priorities and desires. Frequent informal conversations will help you know more about them as individuals and enable you to better understand what really motivates each of your employees. Remember people do things for their reasons not yours. If you can help employees get what they need to motivate themselves through their work, they will bring a higher level of passion and energy to what they do.

2. Develop and Communicate a Compelling Organizational Vision

People become motivated if they are excited about the purpose, the goals of the organization and how they can contribute towards achieving them. If you communicate a clear vision with passion and enthusiasm and you will rally the troops. Each employee needs to understand how their own work contributes towards the company achieving its goals. To be motivated, they need to be confident that their work makes a difference.

3. Address Ineffective Teamwork

Working as part of an effective team can lead to impressive improvements in morale and motivation. Unfortunately the converse is also true. Even the most self-motivated individual cannot maintain enthusiasm if they are part of a dysfunctional team that is “not playing nice in the sand pit.” Read more about building effective teams.

4. Be a Role Model for Your Organization

The attitude and behavior of the leader sets the tone for the whole organization. Your employees are constantly watching you and will take your lead if you are enthusiastic. Engage the troops with your enthusiasm, be realistic about what is happening around you and remind them about where the organization is going. Talk about what is possible. At times this may mean that you need to pump yourself up, or use the services of a colleague, or coach to keep you motivated and focused.

5. Communicate with Everyone Respectfully

Yes, fear and intimidation can produce real motivation to take action, but this approach does not produce sustainable effort and results. Treating people with respect is at the heart of building business relationships. Respecting the right to differ is a concept like motherhood and apple pie. We all agree with it but do we truly foster it? Give people the freedom to be themselves and choose how to achieve the agreed upon results. Read more about building business relationships.

6. Provide Employees with the Opportunity to Be Creative

People will feel more motivated if they work in an environment where they are challenged and still have the opportunity to innovate. Give people freedom to make decisions. Encourage collaborative problem solving. Develop strong skills in delegation. Solicit their opinion and feedback on the issues and challenges you cannot delegate entirely to them.

7. Invest in Developing Employees

Demonstrate that you care about your employees' success by providing opportunities for them to grow professionally. Take the time to provide effective feedback on a continual basis. Recommend books and articles that are useful resources. Provide an adequate training budget and encourage its use. Recommend the support of a business coach or mentor. Allow employees to spend some time on projects that they care about...even if they are outside their standard responsibilities.

8. Regularly Reward Effort and Results

Employees need recognition and praise. Give ample feedback and recognition whenever possible. Look for opportunities to acknowledge and celebrate successes ...even the small ones. Be specific in your praise so that they know what behavior has contributed to the overall success of the organization.

9. Ensure Benefits Are Fair

There are a number of extrinsic rewards that have a short-term impact on motivation. Salary increases, company stock options, bonuses, vacation days or upgrades to the work environment will be appreciated by your employees. However all of these basic motivational tools can become "de-motivators" if they are not used fairly. Employees will compare their compensation packages with others, and will become discouraged if they perceive inequities. Employees need to know that they will receive appropriate and fair rewards and recognition for their achievements.

10.Right People in the Right Role

Ensure that the right person is doing the right task and fully understands their role. This is perhaps one of the most often overlooked areas of motivation because it requires us to step back from the day to day and take a more holistic and strategic view of the business. Getting the right people in the right role and then ensuring that their responsibilities and expectations are clear is a critical foundation for success.

And finally as a bonus...

Help Your Employees Find Work / Life Balance.

Many employees today are struggling to balance the heavy demands of life and work. By providing benefits that make it easier for employees to take care of themselves, you will ensure that they are better able to perform in all aspects of their lives. Examples of this type of benefit include flexible work schedules, membership to a health club, on-site childcare, employee assistance programs, wellness programs or family appreciation days.

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