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Lessons in Leadership

Ten Ways To Motivate Your Employees

By Julie Dobrinska
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Successfully motivating your employees can result in improved morale, reduced turnover, and an increase in production and profits. The problem is that motivation does not come in a “one size fits all” package. Different people are motivated by different things. In other words, what motivates you will not necessarily motivate your employees.

So, in order to be a successful motivator, you need to know your employees. Learn what their interests are and what is important to them. Show a genuine interest in their lives – not only will you learn more about what motivates them as individuals, you will be building a relationship with them and they will appreciate your efforts.

Here are a few more tips for motivating employees . . .

1. Set a good example.
Get excited about your job! Promote a positive work environment. A good mood is infectious – wouldn’t you rather be around someone who is pleasant and smiling than someone who scowls and stomps around?

2. Establish clear expectations and goals.
Meet with your employees on a regular basis to discuss their progress and provide feedback.

3. Empower your employees.
Give them a say in how they do their job. Involve them in decisions that affect them when you can. Ask for their opinion and listen to what they tell you.

4. Provide opportunities for personal development.
Encourage your employees to attend seminars and trainings that interest them. Provide ongoing training. If you are not able to sponsor the training, perhaps you can help offset the expense of the classes, or give them an afternoon off to attend a conference.

5. Offer praise for a job well done.
Be specific and timely – “I appreciate you staying late last Friday to complete the testing on our new component” is better than a general, “Good Job, Joe”.

6. Be flexible.
Consider a flex-time, telecommuting or job sharing opportunity for your employees. Give your employees some flexibility in working hours and location and chances are they will be more productive (and happier!)

7. Shake things up once in awhile.
Doing the same thing day after day can be mundane. Interject a little variety into the daily grind from time to time by assigning different tasks to different people (not recommended for those employees who prefer routine!)

8. Host occasional social gatherings.
Provide a breakfast break with bagels, fruit, juice & coffee. Sponsor lunch-n-learn sessions with guest speakers or trainers. Plan a Saturday afternoon cookout, or an after-hours social. Consider having management serve the refreshments or grill the burgers. Employees will get a kick out of seeing management in roles outside their norm.

9. Offer incentives.
The incentives do not have to be elaborate or expensive – decide on a few tangible goals and award those who reach them with gift certificates to local businesses, tickets to the movies or sports events, treats, or themed gift baskets. Or, you can choose to do random drawings as a way to show your appreciation.

10. Establish a bonus structure or profit-sharing plan.
One of the best ways to motivate individuals is to give them an opportunity to affect their future – by establishing a bonus structure; employees can work directly toward a pre-determined goal and be financially rewarded. Likewise, you can share the company’s success with the individuals.

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