Managers who don’t help to motivate employees are inconsiderate and should not be managing people at all. People become unconcerned about what is going on in the workplace if they feel neglected by their bosses, which creates a vicious cycle of poor performances and lack of motivation. Unfortunately, the relationship between motivation and performance is very reciprocal. When an employee feels uninspired, they will perform poorly and in turn lower their motivation to work.
What is Employee Motivation?
Employee motivation is the compelling force that drives employees to become committed to their work and feel enthusiastic about it when there are other competing demands.
Many factors affect motivation like, the inability to meet one’s goals because of a lack of sufficient resources, environmental stimulation, and interaction with others who are competent enough to boost self-confidence.
How Do You Motivate Employees?
Motivating your employees is all about understanding what they need to feel empowered. The right place to focus on first would be employee engagement. Make sure you focus on things that matter most to your employees and best motivate them over the long term. It will help you to get them motivated quickly.
But, there are many other things you can do as a manager to motivate your employees. So, here are 20 examples of how to motivate employees:
1. Improve the Work Culture
You do not have to dole out many free meals or holiday perks to show your employees that you care about them as individuals.
Most workers want to work in a friendly environment where it is easy to help each other.
It goes hand-in-hand with trust and respect — two qualities which all companies should cultivate among their staff members.
If the people you lead believe in you, they will know that whatever issues arise at work will be dealt with fairly.
2. Communicate and Communicate
In the workplace today, employees need solid communication skills as much as they need good technical knowledge about their field of work.
Communication is paramount in any organization, from the boardroom to the maintenance department — every person needs to convey thoughts and ideas effectively.
Thus, if you want your employees motivated to perform better for you, make sure that you hold regular meetings with them individually.
Let everyone express their feelings freely. Otherwise, people may start feeling like outcasts or confused over what they need to do at work.
3. Promote a Professional Work Environment
People who work for you want to feel that they are in a safe space where they can share things without fear of being ridiculed or judged.
A professional tone should prevail at all times — not only in words but also in body language and expressions, as the latter two might lend credence to the former ones.
People who do not see themselves as professionals will not feel motivated by your leadership style, no matter how hard you try to influence them positively.
Read also: 16 Character Traits of a Hard Worker
4. Provide Training Opportunities
Some job descriptions require people with a degree qualification — say two years of college education or more — but such requirements become outdated quickly due to technological advancements.
What was state-of-the-art yesterday might be obsolete today, so employees should be allowed to continue their learning to keep their skills sharp.
Not only will this make them more competent, but it will also make your company more appealing as an employer because it goes beyond just providing monetary rewards for a job well done.
5. Be Supportive and not Judgmental
You might think employees only need someone standing over them and pointing out faults or errors when they make them.
Your job as a manager is also to show support for those working under you — especially during times of crisis.
So instead of punishing people whenever they fail to meet your expectations, acknowledge their shortcomings and help them to rectify the failures if possible.
Show empathy and understand towards others. Your employees will respect you for being sincere and be more willing to work harder under your management.
6. Treat Each Employee as an Individual
Do not expect every employee to be motivated in the same way. People are different, and each has different ways of being motivated.
Some people may feel more productive when they receive a pat on the back for a job well done. Others may feel like it is an insult to their integrity if someone tries to bribe them into doing something with more money.
No two people are the same, and this goes for your employees too. If you want to get the most out of your workforce, then it would be in your best interests to understand what motivates them individually.
To make everyone feel valued, a decent leader will do their part by knowing all these little differences that appeal to some personalities more than others.
It makes for a more harmonious relationship between you and the employee that can only help make things run smoother.
7. Reward Results
Money is one of the biggest incentives for most people. So, it should come as no surprise to learn that you can increase your employees’ productivity simply by rewarding them with cash when they meet certain milestones or work hard towards a particular goal.
Money can enhance performance rates not just in terms of quality but also in terms of speed and efficiency. Recognition works as an incentive for some people, while others need cash rewards to stay motivated.
Many employees want more that goes beyond money for their effort. Either way, recognition, and rewards are proven motivators for most people.
8. Get Rid of Chronic Poor-performers
Sometimes it is not easy to fire someone. Also, the time and energy that goes into training a new employee are not exactly cheap — not to mention all the exhausting process of interviewing replacements.
However, there is no point in keeping someone who is not a good fit for your team, and addressing the issue will save you money in the long run.
Also, it will save your team members from becoming demotivated by a chronic poor-performing employee.
9. Be Honest
Your employees deserve to know what their future holds, so they are not constantly worrying about it or if some changes are looming.
If changes are coming up, explain why and how these changes will affect everyone — this does not only reassure employees of the decision but also gives them time to think through all options that may arise and come up with a resolution.
People get demotivated whenever you keep changing plans, projects, or their job without warning or letting them make an input.
10. Encourage Creativity
Let them know they have a say in things they can change themselves. For instance, if there is excessive paperwork involved in their job, encourage them to bring ideas on how this could be cut down a little or maybe even eliminated.
It is a great way to give them a sense of ownership of their job. And it motivates them to do their best because they feel that you are listening to their ideas.
11. Be Sensitive to Personal Preferences
Some people do not want to be addressed by their title or role. For instance, some people feel uncomfortable being called ‘sir’ or ‘madam’, while others may not like these words due to unpleasant experiences in the past.
As a manager, you need to know what makes your employees comfortable or gets them feeling more at ease on a personal level.
12. Treat your Employees as Human
Your employees are not instruments for making money or resources that you can just use in any way you like.
They are human beings with feelings and expectations — which means that they will not be motivated if you treat them as instruments. People want to feel valued.
When they do good work, everyone wants to be appreciated — including your employees! So, do not miss a chance to recognize them when they do something worth praising.
Read more: How to Manage Staff Effectively
13. Ask for Feedback
There is nothing wrong with asking your employees about what to do to improve the job. People hate showing up at work every day simply because they have no options.
Ask them to tell you what could be changed to make their lives better. Many of them will accept that opportunity with gratitude. The main thing here is not taking their suggestions negatively.
A lot of managers automatically get defensive when someone points out something that needs improving. Instead of dismissing your employees as complainers or moaners, listen carefully and appreciate their feedback.
14. Be a Good Listener
One of the most effective ways to motivate someone is by showing them that they are respected, valued, and all-important in your eyes.
And one way you can show respect for your employees is by listening to what they say and respecting their opinion. People appreciate it when you show them that you have an interest in what they are saying.
Avoid the “you know better” attitude under any circumstances and ensure that you do not dismiss someone’s thoughts instantly, no matter how silly they may sound.
Give them a chance to voice out their opinions and concerns to feel that their voices matter. Employees who feel valued will go the extra mile because they know that their manager pays attention to what they think.
15. Recognize Employee Achievements
If you want your employees to work hard for you, they need to be recognized by some token or something tangible that will help motivate them even more.
Giving praise in public is also a tremendous encouragement for any employee. All good managers do this: They praise in public or criticize in private. It works wonders.
16. Establish Fair Policies
Knowing that the rules apply to everyone regardless of their position in the company or how long they have been working for you makes employees feel more secure and at ease with themselves.
If you show that some employees are above all the rules, this will affect the performance of others because they will feel that it is not worth working hard. Favoring certain employees can make others feeling less wanted and useless.
17. Allow Mistakes
Allow honest mistakes and embrace the idea of seeing them as learning experiences. It will help encourage your team members to take more risks, and in turn, it will lead to better outcomes.
Everyone makes mistakes. But with this approach, you are essentially telling your employees that it is okay to try things for good intentions and mess up.
Employees will be hesitant to try new things if they know you will jump down their throats should the worse happen. So, if something does go wrong, try and find out the root cause of it.
18. Empower your Employees
If you allow your employees to run with their ideas (as long as they are not a direct threat to others or the company), it will help develop their confidence and give them a sense of ownership over tasks.
In turn, this will motivate them to come up with more innovative ways of doing things without you needing to tell them what they should be doing.
19. Create an Environment Where Everyone Wins
One thing that you can do to keep your people motivated is to ensure there is no conflict among employees. Sometimes there are hard feelings between high performers and those who do not pull their weight.
Equally, if someone feels unsatisfied with the return on the work that they put in, it can result in an unhappy employee and even lead to them leaving your company.
So it’s worth thinking about ways to establish a clear reward structure that aligns with individual performances.
20. Focus on Strengths
Another thing you can do is focus on your employee’s strengths rather than constantly dwelling on what they lack.
Too many managers tend to focus on the weakness of their employees rather than what they can do well — which is arguably the wrong way around.
If you want someone to succeed, make sure that you manage them based on their strengths and show you appreciate their skills and talents for the job rather than constantly complaining about what they are not good at.
People cannot have everything, so understand that sometimes you will have to compromise if you want the best out of your employees.
It is not so difficult to motivate employees. But you have to find a balance between keeping people motivated while not overstepping any boundaries of maintaining personal space.
But with a consistent and supportive environment, it does not take long to get an employee to buy in on the company culture.
The key to motivating employees is making them appreciate their place of work and what they do for a living.
So, make sure that they feel valued and respected on an individual level and recognize their work.
Always give positive feedback, even if it is in private or small group discussions. Just do not overdo it with redundant compliments to make such statements meaningless.
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