Whether you’re the head of a company or you’ve just been promoted and have a handful of people working under your supervision, being a leader requires some unique skills. In order to manage employees you have the essential task of keeping your coworkers efficient, engaged and motivated, but it’s much easier said than done.
Keeping employees motivated isn’t always easy and isn’t as simple as offering free company gear or a pat on the back. Employees have diverse needs, wants, goals and incentives for the work they do. While the motivations you find in your office will be as unique as your employees, there are several tried and true tactics that we’ll aim to share in this article.
Use these tips to encourage employees and help them be their best selves in their careers.
The best ways to motivate employees
Many managers start off with the false assumption that building motivation is entirely aimed at employees. In reality, a lot of the changes you can make in your workplace to encourage employees to grow to start with you. As the leader, manager or supervisor, your behavior and words can have just as much impact as an expensive incentives program. While each has its place, key change requires effective and motivating leadership.
1. Create a positive atmosphere
You can be the CEO of a company, a branch manager or a shift lead and still have a profound impact on your employees. The atmosphere you create with those in your immediate environment (the people you interact with on a daily basis) is the starting ground for building a team that has a healthy and forward-thinking mindset.
Your attitude and vision lay the foundation for how your employees view the company and can factor into their own job satisfaction. When the people you work with are greeted with a bright mood, and passion and are appropriately challenged, they’ll feel more invested in the business. It’s up to you to model the type of work ethic and enthusiasm that you’d want your employees to reflect.
2. Grow your leadership skills
Engaging with employees to build internal motivation comes much more easily to some than to others. Leaders may wonder whether they have the charisma to keep an office excited and passionate. The truth is that anyone can be a leader, and the skill of motivating employees is a natural talent for some but needs to be trained in others.
Growing your leadership skills is something that takes time and may require unlearning habits of managing that have become second nature, but since your employees are your company’s biggest asset, having strong communication skills and the ability to guide others accurately and effectively will be worth your effort.
Try reading up on leadership literature, attending a conference, finding a mentor who is an effective leader or taking classes to learn the best management practices.
3. Avoid micromanaging
This can be particularly difficult for new managers who may stress about delegating duties they were previously in charge of. However, it’s important to give employees autonomy, when appropriate, and trust their decision-making skills, even when they choose to do something different than you may have chosen to do it.
If your employees do make any missteps, rather than taking responsibilities away or re-doing their work, give constructive feedback and partner with them to achieve the desired result.
4. Acknowledge accomplishments
Employees often feel early on in their careers that their work goes unnoticed. Over time, this can lead to apathy about a job and low motivation to work diligently. Employees who feel unappreciated are likely to feel that their work doesn’t matter, and therefore don’t perform to the best of their ability.
Regular recognition of employee accomplishments can be a great motivator. It demonstrates that a manager is engaged and aware of what his or her employees are achieving on a day-to-day basis. Praising employees who go above and beyond or who successfully complete a long-term project can boost morale and let others know that their hard work won’t go unnoticed.
5. Encourage employees who bring forward new ideas
One of the best ways to motivate employees is to applaud and support new ideas. Growth in a company largely depends on adaptability, and the creative ways to adjust to new demands in a market can’t all come from one mind.
Keep your employees involved and invested by allowing them to share ideas about projects, resources and all aspects of work. When you show a genuine interest and even institute new practices or policies, your employees will know you’re serious about their suggestions. If your workplace has a culture that has previously discouraged change and newness, you can start by using incentives to motivate employees to brainstorm new ideas.
6. Cultivate a healthy work-life balance
Employees who feel overworked or burnt out are less likely to perform well and your company may struggle to retain workers. As a leader, it should be on the top of your list to make sure employees are able to prioritize their personal life. Your employees should feel comfortable taking off the time they’ve earned, checking in on family during the day and logging off when they’re on vacation.
The best way to help employees understand that a healthy balance is supported is to create clear boundaries. For example, establish clear and reasonable work hours, after which time employees won’t be expected to answer calls or respond to emails. Focusing on a healthy work-life balance is one of the best incentives to motivate employees to stay with a company and put in their best effort.
When you need help encouraging your employees
If you’re struggling to keep employees motivated and engaged on a day-to-day basis, implementing some of these ideas is a good place to start. Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP can also assist you in developing effective strategies to keep your workplace healthy and productive. Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive EAP services.