Motivating your employees is one of the most challenging things you do as a manager. Motivation is directly linked to job performance so it directly affects you, your team and your company. Learning how to motivate your employees will unlock their potential and lead to higher performance and a more productive employee.
To understand motivation you must understand human nature. And there lies the problem! If you have not read the first part in this series “The Secrets to Motivating Employees Part 1 – The Psychology”, do so now. Motivation is an emotion and you have to understand what motivates people.
If you want to know more about motivators and what employees want read “Ten Things Your Employees Want”.
Three Keys to a Successful Motivation Plan
There are three keys to developing a plan to increase motivation among your employees.
- Evaluate the needs of the employee and take steps to meet them.
- Determine what motivators are important to your employee and take steps to meet them.
- Find out what obstacles are in the way of the employee and take steps to remove them.
How to Evaluate Employee Motivation
One method to evaluate an employees motivators and motivation is to create a checklist for them to fill out. The purpose of the checklist is to find what motivations they feel strongly about. Using what you learned in the psychology of motivation you want to cover internal motivators, external motivators and needs. Tailor the categories to meet the needs of your company or work environment.
Below is an example of a checklist. All of the categories are important but the rank is intended to invoke honestly since an employee may think you want them to put down all 1’s. If this happens have a meeting with the employee and explain the purpose of the checklist is to see what is most important to them so you can help them in those areas.
Rank the following categories 1-3 according to how important they are to you.
- 1 = very important
- 2 = important
- 3 = somewhat important
___ Career development/Training
___ Job security
___ Safe/Comfortable work environment
___ Friendly and helpful co-workers
___ Belonging to a strong group/company
___ Reputation in the work place
___ Recognition of accomplishments/achievements
___ Improving your skills and knowledge
___ Fulfillment in your job
___ Being the best
Comments: _____________________ (several lines)
One option is to fill out the checklist yourself for each employee before you see their selections. Then compare the two to see if you really know your employees motivators or if you are clueless. If you are clueless this is probably a sign that you need to start spending more time with your employees and finding out about how they work and to get to know them personally. Read “Management By Walking Around MBWA” to find out how.
What a Manager Can do to Improve Motivation
As a manager one of your main tasks is to develop a productive work environment. Knowing what motivators are important to your employees arms you with details you need to focus on to help them improve their motivation.
Show Me The Money
No doubt the majority of employees will rank pay a very important to them. This is a difficult issue to deal with, but there are several approaches you can take.
Pay raises is many companies use a complicated system of rankings, grades and other means of determining how much of a raise an employee with receive. Here the odds are likely stacked against you since as a manager you have very little influence on getting employees larger raises.
One thing you can do is be an advocate to upper management for your employees. Never miss an opportunity to praise an employee or your entire team in front of upper management when they have done something worthy of it. Point out accomplishments to them such as completing a continuing education course, an innovation they came up with or the extra effort they put into something.
On another front you can work with your human resources department. They can help you refresh the rankings of your employees to one that is more in line to their true value to the company. If you truly have an employee who is underpaid or has hit the top of the pay grade HR can help.
Results may vary. See upper management for details.
A manager has many tools they can use at little to no cost to motivate employees.
- Give praise and recognition for the work they do provided it is deserved.
- Reward your employees when you see good work being done. Do it as soon as possible and in front of other employees to reinforce that this is the type of behavior you want to see.
- Being flexible with their work schedule understanding they do have a life outside of work.
- Offer training and opportunities to learn new tasks to improve their job skills and knowledge.
- If the employee does routine work add some variety by cross training them to break up the boredom. Read “Why You Should Cross Train Employees” because it has other benefits.
- Get feedback and input about how an employee does their work. The employee will appreciate you valuing their opinion and may know a way to do the work better.
- Have staff lunches or other team-building events so co-workers can get to know each other better.
- Celebrate employee achievements whenever possible.
- Develop SMART objectives for employees. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound). Objectives should be clear and specific so the employee knows exactly what is expected of them. When they know the objective they can be motivated to exceed it.
- Help them develop a career path with specific objectives, goals and milestones that can be celebrated.
- Use Management By Walking Around to stay in touch with the work being done and to get to know your employees better. You can give praise and help with problems right there on the spot.
As a manager the third thing you can do to help motivate your employees is to remove any obstacles that stand in the way of their motivation. Most employees want to do well in their job, be successful and be motivated. However obstacles may stand in their way.
The Dark Side – Demotivation
It can be said that lack of motivation is in fact a result of demotivation due to needs not being met or obstacles in the way of the employee. As a manager your role is to help identify these obstacles and remove them so the employee’s motivation can grow.
Sometimes these demotivating factors can be hidden. For instance an employee may have a big problem with one of their co-workers, but does not tell anyone. Each day they come to work they are not happy with their job because of a co-worker.
As with motivation, demotivation is an emotion. Employees may have mistaken negative emotions about their company or even you. For instance they may think the company is just taking advantage of them by not paying them what they think they should be earning. They may not try improve themselves because they feel they will never benefit from it.
A good way to find what demotivates is to talk with the employee often. Gain their trust and their respect and they will open up to you. Don’t let your employees go to the dark side of the workforce. It is hard to get them back!
Demotivation is but one obstacle. Some others may be:
- Not having time after work to take classes. If so bring classes or training to work.
- A poor work environment such as that worn out chair they have to sit in all day, or office equipment that is outdated and difficult to use.
- A co-worker who they feel gets away with everything or does not work to their potential and is never corrected for it.
- Worrying about issues in their personal life. Many companies have programs to help employees.
There may be other things that demotivates your employees. The best way to find them is to build a good relationship with them so they confide in you.
The “secrets” to motivating employees is learning what motivates them, what is important to them, using all the tools in your managers motivation toolbox and removing any demotivating obstacles that block the path to an employee’s motivation.
Remember motivation is an emotion, not a job skill. It can not be taught or forced upon an employee. A motivated employee will be more productive, happier and more successful in their career. It benefits you and your company to have engaged and motivated employees.
All of this may seem a little to “touchy-feely” for some of you. Your don’t have to become your employees best friend, but you do need to get to know them personally so you can find out what motivates them. Throughout your career as a manager you will need to motivate your employees so find a way that works for you.
There are many reasons and many methods to motivate employees. Only a few have been mentioned here. You should seek out more information by reading books, searching the Internet or taking classes to help you become a master of motivation.
If you do not think you need to motivate your employees never, ever forget ITPS! Read “The Keys to Successful IT Service Management – ITPS” to find out why.