1. You can’t actually motivate your employees. What??!?? I know this first tip seems a little counterproductive, but bear with me. You see, motivation is internal, not external. You can motivate people with carrots and sticks for a while, but it can’t last. Long term, people need to motivate themselves. You’re not powerless, however, because motivation comes from inspiration. So offer your people inspirational goals and they’ll take on the job of motivating themselves.
2. Create a motivating environment. What’s it like at your business? Do people hit the ground running on Monday mornings, or do they live for the weekends. Your working environment has a greater impact on your productivity than you may think. The thing is, every business has a culture. But most have evolved through happenstance and that’s far too risky a way to grow your company. Everything from your office décor to your meeting schedules will effect your environment, so evaluate the impact of every move you make on your culture and watch your productivity soar.
3. Involve your employees in decisions that affect them. Your employees don’t just want a job; they want to be part of something more. So let them. It’s a win-win scenario for everybody. Your employees win because their work becomes fulfilling, and the company wins, because it benefits from the contributions of more than just those at the top of the organizational chart.
4. Share your plans for the future with your employees and get them involved in the process. If inspiration is the key to employee motivation, then keeping your employees in the dark about your plans for the future is a sure-fire way to kill your company’s potential.
5. Hire motivated people. Brian Scudamore, president and founder of 1-800-Got-Junk?, says “we don’t motivate our people, we hire motivated people”. Screen candidates carefully, and look for a history of productivity. Technical skills alone are never a good enough reason to give someone a job.
6. Encourage independent thought, creativity and initiative. At Wardell, we have a weekly meeting to discuss our progress as a company. Everyone is expected to participate and contribute. For example, one of our agenda items asks each consultant to teach something of value to the rest of the group. Not every idea is going to be as helpful as the next one, but by encouraging this type of “teaching environment”, we keep everyone growing in the right direction.
7. Profit share. In general, money is a poor motivator if you’ve got nothing else going for you, but it can be a great supporting tool once you’ve got your people on board. Profit sharing, of course, is only one of many ways you might do this, but used properly it can be extremely effective. Whether you offer your employees company shares, options, a bonus based on clearly defined goals, a percentage of your margin, or a percentage of your profit, what matters most is that they don’t feel powerless to affect its outcome. The goal of a bonus is to support your employees feeling of ownership for their work.
As an aside, avoid the dreaded “Christmas Bonus” if at all possible. Any amount of money given in this fashion will be appreciated the first year, but will eventually be seen as an entitlement. Then, should you have a bad year and cannot afford to offer it, instead of understanding, you’ll get resentment.
8. Offer varied and interesting benefits. Benefits, unlike bonuses, form part of an employee’s compensation package. And as such, represent an opportunity to impact your working environment. Certainly, standard benefits such as medical and dental insurance can be part of the package, but think outside the box as well. For example, perhaps you can negotiate a discount for your employees at a local fitness club or restaurant. One of our clients has even negotiated a discount for his employees at a local golf course.
9. Fire unmotivated people. It’s as important to get the right people on the bus as it is to get the wrong people off the bus. It may sound harsh, but if you have anyone working for you that you would not re-hire given the opportunity, get rid of them as quickly as possible. It’s the right thing to do. If you’re not happy with them, chances are they’re not happy either.
This is not to say you shouldn’t give people a chance, but don’t get into the trap of trying to motivate someone who simply can’t be motivated. If an employee is not inspired by a future with your company, free them to find a place that suits them better.
10. Thank your employees for a job well done. For a hard working, dedicated employee little is more important than genuine appreciation. Show them that you notice how hard they work and they’ll go to the mat for you each and every time. Never underestimate the value of a “thank you”. If your employees don’t feel appreciated, they’ll leave as soon as someone offers them more money, but if they really love their job, it will take more than a few dollars to lure them away.
About the author:
Mark Wardell is President and Founder of Wardell Professional Development, a business consulting firm, focused on the unique needs of small/mid sized growth companies.
Wardell Professional Development
Phone: (604) 733-4489