Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How To Keep Your Team Motivated

It's a long-standing concern in every business: how do you keep your employees motivated to be creative and effective, day in, and day out?  It's not hard, but it is a recipe.  Like any recipe, without any of the ingredients it won't work out.


AUTONOMY: Employees list autonomy as the top wish in their work lives, and it's what managers
fear the most.  When employees make their own decisions without going up the chain of command, they feel respected and empowered.  They also make mistakes, which make managers aggravated, and more likely to micromanage.  Where ever possible, step back and let your team make their own decisions.  If you have educated them thoroughly on the goals of the department and the company, their creativity and effectiveness will flourish.

POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT: Employees with positive relationships with co-workers are more productive, and remain in jobs substantially longer than those who list their workplace as "challenging" or list co-workers as "difficult."  A positive tone starts at the top.  Do not complain, whine, gossip, or lose your temper at work.  When others are doing it, shut it down.  Greet people with a smile, and use their name.  It works.

TRUST IN MANAGEMENT: If your managers to treat employees fairly, ask them to perform only professional duties, and take an interest in each employee's goals, trust will be built.  Each member of the organization wants to be recognized as a human being, and a quality professional.  Transparency in management and decision-making show employees that management means what they say, and does what they say. Avoid secrecy whenever possible.

APPRECIATION: Celebrate little things, like improvement on filing timely paperwork, successfully overcoming a brutal deadline, or no absences for a week after the flu tears through the office. Recognizing these moments reminds everyone that work gets done by people working together.  If there is nothing to celebrate, bring in lunch for the team to thank them for working hard in a tough environment, and sit with them while they relax and eat.  If the whole team needs to step up their performance, institute a meaningful reward for the "most improved performance."  Talk about the achievements publicly in glowing terms, and manage failures quietly in private.

FAIR COMPENSATION:  If your organization docks pay for a variety of "infractions," multiple studies show this destroys both trust and morale.  Find another way to enforce your rules.  Pay your people as well as you can and remain competitive.  Once you've helped develop their skills, you don't want them moving on to the competition for a paycheck!  Now your investment is working against you!

COMMON CAUSE:  Share successes with the entire team.  If you sign a big contract, increase your profit margin, grow your company, or any other good news, let everyone know that their teamwork was integral to the achievement of the goal.  

If you work in an environment where all of these ingredients are present, you're probably happy to go to work every day.  If you don't, you're probably looking to change jobs.  What are your employees thinking?

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