How To Motivate Your Employees

Ah, the age old problem: how to motivate your employees. A motivated workforce can move mountains… literally. Managers of all stripes bang their head against the walls trying to figure out how to motivate employees. Understand these basic motivational tips as learn how to motivate your problem people:

  • You can’t motivate them – By this I mean people are not very well motivated by external factors. True motivation comes from within. You need to set up an environment in which that can happen.
  • Money won’t motivate them – Study after study shows that people are rarely motivated solely by money. It can help, but most people are motivated more powerfully by other things. Great managers know what those things are.
  • Fear won’t motivate them – Actually, it may work for a brief period, but if your workforce doesn’t quit, the fear won’t motivate whoever is left for very long.

Employee Motivation Ideas

Motivate yourself first. If you are lacking in energy, lazing about, and complaining about how your team is not motivated… whose fault do you think that is? Get up! Energize yourself! Enthusiasm is contagious. Spread it around.

Employee goals and company goals should match up. If they don’t, then you’re fighting a losing battle. If you get your team fired up and they really tear it up…but they’re all working on the wrong things, motivation will shrivel like… a grape.

Learn what motivates your staff. First you’ll have to know how to get to know your subordinates, but once you do that, you can tailor your efforts specifically to each team member. Some people need praise. Some need time off. Some need a challenge. Some need overtime. Be fair to your employees…no favoritism, but be specific with your rewards for each employee.

Don’t count on personal relationships to sustain motivation. Establish reliable policies to ensure consistent behavior. Even if your team loves you, during times of great stress, that love can falter… and leave you in a bad situation. Sound compensation policies, fair evaluation programs, etc. will help to maintain motivation.

Employee Motivation Techniques (or What Do I Do Now?)

  1. Take action! Reading this article won’t solve anything if you don’t do as I say.
    List your own motivations. You’re in for a bumpy ride. Think of how you can stay motivated during this process. Set private goals and reward yourself as you reach them.
  2. Learn how to manage workload effectively. If you are constantly over-stressed, impatient, and barking at your employees… no one is motivated.
  3. Find out what motivates your team. Here’s a handy employee motivation questionnaire that you can use:

    __ Career Development
    __ Comfort / Relaxation
    __ Health
    __ Influence
    __ Learning
    __ Possessions
    __ Recognition / Praise
    __ Money
    __ Popularity / Acceptance
    __ Status
    __ Problem Solving
    __ Task Accomplishment
    __ Teaching
    __ Others? __________________
    __ Others? __________________

  4. After you have three to five items per employee, think about how you can utilize this information. Remember, you’re not using this information to manipulate anyone. They are telling you honestly what motivates them. They are saying “I crave these things”. Give them what they crave and you’ll have a motivated, loyal group.
  5. Learn how to delegate effectively. Believe it or not, in addition to freeing you up to do more important things, effective delegation can make your staff feel as if they are learning and growing. Be careful not to just dump your work on them, though.
  6. Managerial problem solving can help to keep your staff working smoothly. If people are constantly tripping over the same problems and nothing is ever solved, cynicism will set in before long.
  7. Reward good behavior immediately. Don’t wast time praising good personalities. Employee behavior is what you want to reward and encourage.
  8. Quickly move to manage team conflict. If your workers are not getting along, every facet of work is usually damaged.
  9. Managers hate them, but fair employee evaluations are very important for establishing benchmarks, setting goals, and ensuring that employer and employee are on the same page. Here are some sample evaluation comments
  10. Communicate to your team how their efforts impact the customer, and/or the company. Frequently, lower-level employees don’t appreciate how much their efforts can help or hurt a customer (and therefore, the company).
  11. Recognize and celebrate successes. Take time to make a grand gesture when milestones are met or when big goals are reached. This reinforces the link between employees, management, and customers.

Following these employee motivation techniques will take take some time, but will eventually pay off dividends for years to come. Motivating your employees should be one of your primary concerns.

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