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The basic principle of employee motivation is simple: people do what gets them what they want. You could ask your employees what they want but the old saying: ‘’actions speak louder than words’’ is a better guide, so you need to be a keen observer.
There are some general principles of employee motivation that apply to (nearly) everyone. Then there is the question of what motivates particular team members.
Don’t demotivate people. Taking away benefits or downgrading working conditions are turn offs. So is rudeness, harsh treatment or a lack of fairness.
Make rewards contingent on the behavior you want. Regular salary is not as motivating as pay for performance although if your employees value security and think that performance related pay is too much pressure, this tactic can backfire.
Show that you value people’s contributions. Employees are motivated when they feel appreciated. Patting people on the back for a job well done is a good first step, but asking them for their input is even more powerful.
Involve employees in making important decisions. Employees are motivated when they feel appreciated. Patting people on the back for a job well done is a good first step, but asking them for their input is even more powerful.
Give employees new and interesting challenges to keep them stimulated and learning.
Don’t take moaning at face value. Sometimes employees complain about workload or long hours and mean it but other times they complain because they don’t feel appreciated.
Motivating individual employees
Spend time with each team member regularly, at least once a quarter if not every month. Ask questions like: ‘’What do you most/least enjoy doing?’’ What would you like to do more/less of in future?’’ What would you like to get exposure to or learn about?’’ ‘’How do you like to spend your time at work? What really gives you a buzz?’’
People are motivated by different things. Here is a list of some prominent factors:
· New challenges
· Opportunities to meet new people
· A chance to learn and develop new skills
· Autonomy, being given extra responsibility
· Clear goals; a chance to achieve tangible outcomes
· Feeling involved
· Status – a new title or privileges
· Inspirational appeals, emotionally expressed vision
The key to success in motivating employees is to avoid the ‘’one size fits all’’ mentality. Beware of assuming that all employees are motivated by the same things that drive you. If an employee is just coming to work and putting in minimum effort before dashing home, then it is not this person’s fault. It may be that nothing you have offered really excites this person. It’s imperative to avoid a blame approach. You need to think harder about what it will take to engage this person.
Mitch McCrimmon has over 30 years experience in executive assessment and coaching. He has written 3 management books, the latest of which Burn! 7 Leadership Myths in Ashes was published in 2006. For more info, see www.leadersdirect.com