6 Ways to Keep Your Employees Motivated
Business is a team responsibility. More often than not, employees across entry to mid levels of an organisation may seem uninterested and or disinterested in the vision of the company. Despite the numerous pep-talks, the reason for the motivation of these employees remains a mystery for their managers. And that’s exactly how it shouldn’t be.
Irrespective of the size of your organisation, having a committed, skilled and passionate team of people is important for every business to succeed. Through many years of research, trial and error, and working with companies of all sizes in numerous industries, there are some patterns that emerge.
Every employee displays some innate needs and it’s on you to understand and motivate them by catering to those needs of your biggest assets – your people. Here are some ways how you can motivate your staff at the ground level.
1. Modify your management approach for different types of employees
Different employees need different approaches. Some might need handholding till they know every detail, while others might just be okay with one round of coaching. How each employee responds to the training and communication is also different. Hence, it is essential that managers accommodate different management approaches for different types of employees in their teams.
Consider two situations –
• A manager giving a monthly target to the employees and then forget about it until the last week or the month is over
• A manager assigning weekly targets and following up on a daily basis as to how close they are to achieving it every other day
Which of the two situations do you think would be more efficient and productive? While the first seems easier to do, the second (testified by many managers as well as employees across organisations) has bought in more results. Having said that, don’t be surprised if you may have to adopt both.
For instance, having an hourly schedule could make some employees be more punctual while others would want their own space for displaying their creativity. Assigning daily priorities to a team member who is capable of working autonomously or assigning monthly goals to a team member who is new to a certain task; in both cases, you are bound to end up demotivating the employee. It is important to know which style will suit your team members.
Recognising these differences and catering to them on an individual basis can help keep the employees committed to the tasks. This also translates into better results and efficient performance by the entire team. Also, challenges, if any, could be dealt with on a more frequent basis thus not piling it up or hampering the deadline in any way.
2. Take a genuine interest in your employee’s career path
Another important motivator for an employee is the interest of their managers in the employees’ personal career growth.
Often team leaders want someone who is already trained and can deliver work at top speed. At best, this approach leads to a very transactional relationship between the team leader and the team member.
Consider an alternative scenario. If you spend time teaching, training and grooming your team members you are taking the first step to foster a bond built on mutual respect rather than authority. Encouraging the employee to know their career goal, gives you an insight about the likes, dislikes, interests and aspirations of this employee. Taking it a step further, investing time in honing the employees’ skills that will be useful to them in the future will not only earn you their loyalty, but also high productivity in their current role.
Managers who are a mentor to their employees and coach them on a regular basis have a better, productive team output than those who don’t. While the employees are new, they might also need some training in soft skills. That would also help in increasing their confidence in advancing in their careers more ambitiously.
3. Motivate individuals rather than team
A team is made of individuals, each of whom is different from the other in more ways than one.
This group of individuals may have varied levels of motivation. You might have an employee or two who are highly self-motivated, usually eager to learn something new or take on new tasks. There might be some other individuals who are sometimes motivated and sometimes not. Perhaps their motivation varies depending on other factors such as team dynamics, communication style, lack of direction, etc. Some employees may have poor motivation and require you to do a deep dive to help them resurface. Chances are, due to mixed signals emerging from varied motivational levels of your employees you could misread the motivation level and cause further damage to the entire team.
Excess motivation to the already motivated employee could make him/her feel like an underperformer (makes them wonder, am I not doing enough?) or drive him/her away (makes them feel like I can do more and there is no room for more here). Too little motivation could make the entire team feel like you don’t get involved or appreciate them enough.
No doubt group incentives are important but it’s even more important to have multiple working strategies to ensure that every stakeholder is motivated, knows how a particular task helps them and that the team as a whole is important. A good leader is one who always uses this technique to motivate the team to perform beyond their usual potential.
4. Know your employees’ alternative motivator (other than money)
While money constitutes a major reason as to why everyone works, it may not be the only motivation for most of your employees. Studies show that irrespective of the hike you offer, some employees do choose to part ways because of ‘other factors’.
Yes, I’m with you here, I know and understand that it’s not easy to find out what really motivates an employee. Many times, employees themselves don’t know what motivates them. Identifying motivational triggers is a vast topic in itself, however the starting point is knowing your team members’ aspirations. Where do they see themselves after 10 years? Who do they want to be? What do they want to achieve next? What work do they want to do more of or less of?
To have a better retention of employees and an engaged workforce, you need to work on a strategic approach for developing the talent in your organisation. This could be by catering to their needs for recognition, appreciation, empathy, growth and job satisfaction. Knowing these alternative motivators will help you encourage your workforce towards being more enthusiastic during their tenure with you.
5. Create recognition rituals
Recognition goes a long way in motivating the employees. Something as simple as a common email to all departments appreciating an individual or team for working extra on a particular day could go a long way. Your simple acknowledgement of a team member at the lunch table or at a staff meeting becomes a pleasant memory that your team member will carry in the time ahead.
If an organisation takes it upon themselves to find avenues to recognise every employees’ contribution and hard work, the opportunities can be many. From letters of appreciation, one-on-one verbal acknowledgement, weekly or monthly awards, a mention on the intranet, make a public announcement via social media, a plaque at the annual meet, a promotion, a thank you card, and the list can be long.
The idea is to make it a ritual to acknowledge good work. Happy people, work with higher ownership, commitment and are highly productive. Let the culture of recognition begin at you and become a ritual in your organisation.
6. Deal with demotivators
Last but a crucial aspect is to deal with demotivators. There could be cases you or your managers face where some employee would just not work in the set guidelines. This may not always be a problem with motivation but rather a potential case of a disinterested employee who might influence the rest of the team. Having such negative members not only hamper the productivity but also impacts those who are beginning to respond to your earlier mentioned efforts. In cases like these, you might need to pull the plug on such employees. The sooner you do this, the better it is for the entire organisation including the employee.
Other than people who can be negatively oriented and hence demotivators, there could be other softer factors such as disrespect, arrogance, poor communication or not being given an opportunity to voice an idea or concerns which can act as demotivators. It is essential that managers are equally mindful of these factors as well. Regular employee surveys and open forums provide windows to employees to vent out their concerns and also provides an opportunity to the management to course correct before a major damage.
At Yellow Spark, with our structured approach to training employees and their managers, we equip your teams to be self-motivated and strive for better growth of the business in the long run. You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a detailed plan for your organisation and your employees.
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer, and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.