Managers often ask, usually with exasperation, “How can I keep my employees motivated, and why do I have to worry about it? I pay them decently.”
Offering competitive salaries is certainly important, but that’s what gets them in the door. What keeps them engaged and committed to your team or organization is more than money – it’s the day-to-day ‘stuff’ like respect, trust, fairness and good feelings about themselves and their work. Here are 7 ways to keep them motivated and energized.
1. Don’t play favorites.
People make judgments about what they see in the workplace. Are promotions fair? Is low performance dealt with quickly? Is their equal treatment for the top floor as well as the shop floor? If the answer is no in their eyes (regardless of the ‘truth’ of the matter – it’s their perspective) then this perceived unfairness will stand in the way of their giving of themselves fully to the job or project.
2. Share the limelight.
When credit and compliments come your way, spread them around to all who helped. Let Sally or Joe or the team accept the award rather than just you. And, if you think you’re solely responsible for that honored achievement, think again.
3. Meet them on their turf.
While you may be more comfortable meeting with staff in your office, it’s more valuable to meet occasionally where they are located. Leadership is not about your comfort, but that of your people. The symbolic value of seeing you mingling with the troops improves trust. General Patton used this effectively and won many a battle by the loyalty his troops had for him.
4. Break bread together.
Have an informal breakfast or lunch once a month with a group of workers to find out what’s on their mind. Or grab something at the cafeteria, plop yourself down at a table and say: “So, how’s things going in your area?” While you may hear some groaning, you will also hear about frustrations that are hindering performance. Listen, acknowledge and then do something about these glitches. Acting on problems goes a long way.
5. Follow-through. DWYSYGD
Effective managers remember the promises they make, take the appropriate course of action, and let their staff know what’s been done. If you tell Mary that you are going to check on something for her, do it. And if you don’t intend to do something, never say you will. Your credibility will go down each time people’s expectations are unmet.
6. Truly encourage and ask for their ideas.
Ask everyone to come to the next staff meeting with two questions or two improvement ideas. This opens up two-way communication real quickly. Listen intently, clarify and then follow-up each question or idea. If you maximize employee input, you will get a more productive and committed workforce.
7. Communicate the good, the bad, and even the ugly.
When you’re on an airplane and it encounters turbulence or the flight is delayed, you want to know what’s going on. Not knowing makes you nervous. Employees also want to know what’s going – what’s causing the bumpy ride. If people don’t understand, anxiety mounts, trust declines, rumors fly and motivation is shot to heck. The next thing you see is morale plummeting and work not getting done.
Management Success Tip
Catch people doing something right. Sincere appreciation is powerful stuff — it’s feedback, recognition, and respect all wrapped in one. Saying thanks has become a lost art in the frenetic world of ‘24/7.’ It’s a morale booster that costs nothing but goes a long way in helping people put forth more effort. If the little things are done right, then big results will follow.
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- Copyright © 2012 Marcia Zidle business and leadership coach.