The workforce of your dreams is probably made up of brilliant, engaged employees who take the initiative, collaborate effortlessly, enthusiastically promote your company's goals, never take a sick day and offer to take a pay cut at their next performance appraisal, right?
Although it's unlikely that you can have a staff that maintains perfect health and is independently wealthy, it's possible that your staff can be brilliant, engaged, collaborative and all the other superlatives you can think of. They just need the right motivation, and your managers are just the ones to deliver it.
6 Motivational Tactics
There's no doubt about it, employees can and do get fired up from a rousing speech from the CEO or a day spent at a seminar conducted by a world-renowned speaker. However, humans tend to be creatures of habit. Once we get back to our offices and our normal routines, those pep talks often fade before they can take hold. That's where the steady, consistent actions of good managers come in.
Here are six motivational tactics your managers should be comfortable with and regularly putting into practice with their staff:
1. Recognize the big and small. Recognition fuels motivation because it gives employees a sense that what they're doing matters and is important to the company. Recognize the big stuff, such as landing a huge account, as well as the small stuff, such as covering the phones for a co-worker.
Regularly communicate compliments, concerns and appreciation, and have a formal, yearly awards program. Keep in mind that the form of the recognition is less important than providing it regularly.
2. Understand the importance of individuality. One of the best lessons a manager can learn is that his or her staff is made up of individuals who have unique experiences, perspectives and skills. Being treated as a person, and not as just another cog in the wheel, helps motivate employees because they feel valued and see that their particular talents are contributing to the whole.
3. Get employees involved. Motivation also rises when employees work with their managers to solve problems and are actively involved in defining their work. This means managers need to be less focused on issuing orders and more willing to collaborate with staff to determine the best course of action in a given situation. In other words, being a manager doesn't mean one should be a micro-manager.
4. Be empathetic. Empathy requires having an open mind and being willing to step into someone's shoes to see things from their point of view. This is a key skill for managers to hone so that they can effectively relate to their employees — particularly when disagreements arise.
Even if employees' suggestions weren't heeded, as long as their bosses demonstrate empathy, employees will at least feel that their comments were heard. They'll likely still be disappointed by the outcome, but they'll be less likely to feel defeated.
5. Provide challenging and stimulating work. It's not an earth-shattering revelation to say that employees' motivation rises when they're passionate about their work and sinks when they're bored or uninspired by the job. A manager who is focused on motivation will work with his or her staff to find the silver lining.
For instance, turn the work into an important developmental milestone, such as an opportunity to delegate some portion of the task to a less experienced team member. Or a dual goal can be created: The employee will complete the task as well as analyze the process and come up with ways it can be done differently next time.
6. Communicate effectively. Being able to clearly convey goals, commitments and expectations to employees is another skill that managers must master. After all, employees can't get fired up to complete a task if they're not really sure what they're doing.
Remember, talking, e-mailing, text messaging or whatever method is being used to deliver information is only one half of the communication equation. Listening is equally important.
Why Motivation Is Key
If you teach the skills that are at the heart of motivation, you can coach any manager to become an inspiration to his or her staff. In addition to keeping productivity high, motivating managers will set the right tone for those who will move up the ranks in your organization. Those reasons should be motivation enough to focus on this essential element of leadership.