I am often asked my secret to motivating employees. With over 20 years experience supervising and managing employees, I have found there is only one real key. That key is you must care about people. It comes so natural to me to ask an employee about his or her family, hobbies, problems, or recent accomplishments that I may be aware of. I’m sorry but this is something you can’t train people to do. You can, however, promote an atmosphere that encourages this type of employer to employee relationship.
With the politically correct climate today, it is far easier to treat your employees as just that; employees. By asking questions or engaging in conversation that may be interpreted as personal, some supervisors or managers feel they may be opening themselves up to charges of inappropriate behavior. This is mostly unfounded but understandable. Too many companies today stress that supervisors and managers must keep a business only relationship between mangers and their subordinates.
So what are the rules? This is a tough question and depends on how comfortable you feel with the employee. I will never bring up an individuals personal situation first. I will lead with questions that allow them to bring up any issues first. If I feel an employee has something they need to talk about I might ask a couple of questions: “Is everything okay? Would you like to talk about it? How can I help?
Whenever I have a new employee, I always make a point to have a one-on-one session to find out about the person, not the employee. I want to know what they like to do in their spare time, if they have children, their likes and dislikes about previous companies. At this meeting I always give them the same information about me. This way we are starting off on equal footing. Surprisingly, most employees will remember more about you than you will about them. This is a technique that works 100% of the time, yet all the “gurus” will spend more time trying to define appropriate interviewing techniques than getting to know the person.
So the key to employee motivation is quite simple. You MUST care about your people. There is no other training necessary other than how to recognize when people want to talk. But it is not enough to listen to your employee. You must hear them. Believe me when I say they will remember your conversation. If a week later you don’t remember the details of your conversation, then you have just taken a giant step backwards.
One really simple thing I like to do to make the individual feel comfortable is talk to them in their comfort zone. I had a boss who truly wanted his people to like and respect him. He would often have lunches with groups of employees and even occasionally invite them to his office for a one-on-one. The problem with this approach is that the employee doesn’t feel comfortable. My approach is just a little different, but makes the exchange much more comfortable for the employee. I will sit with them in the break room, go to the machine they are operating, or even meet up with them in the parking lot. Now I don’t arrange a meeting in the parking lot. I am just available at different locations. Most managers, while with good intentions, alienate the employee by making them feel it is an “honor” to get to talk to the boss.
The number one rule when motivating employees is to care about the individual. Remember, without them, you are nothing. They do not work FOR you. They work WITH you. I often tell my people that “I am just here to make your life easier”. Remember, you may be the “boss”, but your future is in the employee’s hands
My name is Willis Brown and I have more than 20 years of managing experience. I love people and I am available any time. My degree is from BYU (Back-yard University) Feel free to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org . I will give you my best opinion on your situation. To motivate, you must be motivated. I also have a variety of motivational resources available to you mostly in the form of ebooks. Email me anytime for a complete listing of motivational products I offer. Just include in the subject line the words “motivate" me. I will respond usually in less than 24 hours I know you will like what you see. Set goals and you can acheive anything