How to Motivate Employees
It can be one of the hardest tasks a front-line or executive manager has to do in his
or her career: Motivating employees in the workplace. Getting the top performance when
they need it most is difficult without the knowledge and understanding about how to
motivate them. Get this wrong and you end up with full scale rebellion from your team.
Motivating employees at work can happen at any time and any place. Some good
opportunities exist at weekly team meetings, all hands meetings, and especially in
one on one or coaching and mentoring sessions. Use this time to put motivational
strategies into play. Don’t make it obvious that this is a motivational speech or
that you are trying to motivate your direct reports or project team members. Motivating
your employees should be a natural process that comes across in an honest manner,
otherwise they will take it as a lecture from a stern parent and that will not produce
the effect you are looking for.
If you find yourself in the situation that you need to fire up your organization it
begs the question, “Why do I need to do this in the first place.” There are many
reasons that lead you to motivational sessions such as:
- Increasing Team Performance
- Increasing Team Productivity
- Increasing Morale Recovering from a Bad Situation (Workplace Tragedy, Financial Loss,
Losing a Large Account)
If things aren’t going as well as they used to or your company, organization, or
team is falling behind the competition it may be necessary to find out how to encourage
your employees to perform better.
The top methods of motivation are not complicated but usually aren’t implemented
due to their amount of work and dedication. Trying to motivate employees with raises,
bonuses, or prizes seems like a good motivator but it is not. Those are rewards and
not motivators. They produce a short term high that is quickly forgotten. Rewards do
have a role in the workplace and they work great at the end of a project or difficult
task. They show an immediate appreciation for work that has already been done and not
for the hard work that is to come. True motivation comes from the following three things:
Modeling of Desired Behaviors
You must display the behaviors that you want out of your employees. It’s not
enough to tell them what you want them to do. If they see you working overtime
on a project and putting in extra effort they will feel compelled to do so themselves.
If they see you walking out the door at 5:00 they will wonder what your actual level of commitment is.
Creating and Environment of Interaction
It’s up to you to set up clear lines of communication within your team. Make sure they
have the tools and the time to communicate effectively. Purchasing software or new
computer hardware that makes your team more effective is a great motivator.
Having to work with tools that slow down productivity is a motivation killer.
Make sure your team also has plenty of time collaborate together by keeping some
slack time in their schedules.
Self Discipline and Accountability
This is the classic “skin in the game” method. Assign important tasks directly
to people and let them know how important it is the task is completed properly.
When an employee’s name is directly attached to a task they will usually rise to
the occasion and complete it on time. They want to keep their good name amongst you
and their peers. Giving more responsibility is an excellent motivator.
How do you implement the above behaviors and figure out what things are important to
motivating your employees. Psychologist Kurt Lewin came up with a simple method
for recognizing where to place your motivational training and tactics. It’s called
a Force Field Analysis. It entails finding out your employee’s strengths, weaknesses,
and characteristics that promote or inhibit change. Doing a force field analysis is
a great way to find out where you need to concentrate your efforts.
You can get more details on doing a force field analysis in our whitepaper
that is available to registered members. Membership is free and you
can sign up at our registration page
Remember, motivation is not a reward based system. Rewards are for work that has
already been completed. Motivating employee’s future work takes hard work and
discipline and falls on your shoulders.