‘How do I motivate my staff?’ That’s the question I’m most often asked by business owners and managers. They want some instant fix, a silver bullet that improves staff motivation overnight. But as we all know, life isn’t like that.
I’ve been there
I understand why this question is being asked, I was a manager for fifteen years, and I appreciate the challenges managers face every day with their people. The answer I give is – ‘You don’t motivate your team, you create the environment where they motivate themselves!’
Effective motivation is intrinsic, it has to come from within. There’s no instant fix; it’s an ongoing day to day process of small actions that build a highly motivated team.
It’s like pushing a heavy boulder, you need some initial effort to get the process going, but once you’ve done that, it takes a lot less effort to keep it moving.
7 Steps to success
- Spend some quality time with each of your team.
Talk with them and find out how they’re doing on a personal level, and a business level. Give them feedback; tell them when they do something well, and tell them when not so well. Use descriptive statements, not generalisations such as ‘well done!’
- Listen to what they have to say, and show that you’re listening.
Turn away from the computer, and switch off the phone. Keep good eye contact, use open body language, and make noises that indicate that you’re listening. Empathise with their personal problems and provide solutions to business problems, wherever possible.
- Coach them on the job, to do even better.
Remember that coaching is a two-way process with your team member; helping them to find solutions to job-related or personal problems
- Find ways to make their job more interesting.
Vary the jobs they do, give them some of your tasks, and give them more responsibility. Ask them to train or mentor another member of the team.
- Show that you appreciate them, and have some fun.
Give the occasional reward for no particular reason. Some time off work, a personal thank you letter, cakes or sweets, flowers on a birthday or a bottle of wine. Suggest a team member takes their partner out for a meal and charge it to expenses.
- Keep them informed.
Let them know what’s happening in the company, and how the business is doing. And provide relevant information on new products or services. Give them the feeling that what they do contributes to the success of the organisation.
- Trust and believe in them.
Show them what you need them to do, and let them get on with it. Take risks; don’t keep supervising. Set up parameters that allow them to make decisions. If they keep coming to you with questions, don’t provide an answer; ask them what they would do and support their response.
Dare to care
Your team members want to know that you care about them, that you’re interested in them from a personal, and business point of view. They want to believe that you trust them, and want them to succeed.
If you can create that environment; then you’ll have a happy and motivated team that make a positive contribution to your business?
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