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To motivate you need to be positive, honest, encouraging and direct. To be honest, motivation starts at home. If you are truly motivated, it is easier to spread that enthusiasm to others. Share your vision and mission with confidence. Your attitude, the way you handle yourself around others, and the way you talk to each individual will subconsciously build morale. Do not come to work stressed out and miserable, and yet expect your department to be happy and enthusiastic.
Some people work hard and do good work for pay and recognition. It is your job to give them monetary increases and praise a job well done. Some are lazy and do bad work, yet still expect to get paid. It is your job to get them motivated and show where they need improvement.
Motivating a team uses a “one for all and all for one” approach. Motivating an individual is more of a one-on-one approach to get your point across and to inspire. The people you are trying to motivate must be truly motivated themselves. They are motivated in different ways:
By the actual work they perform
The work environment
A helpful manager when needed
Not micromanaged when all is under control
Whatever you do, don’t patronize your staff with silly gimmicks such as balloons, bells, and whistles for ordinary work done. This just makes it look like you are treating them like children in a kindergarten class. Motivate professionally with maturity and respect.
Although monetary increases, rewards, praise and recognition are big motivators, we will first look at 23 other ways in which to motivate professionally and with respect:
Be a solid leader. Be the person who can make decisions, solve problems, has an open door policy, knows how to delegate, and provides regular feedback. People are motivated when they trust their leader.
Give clear instructions. A person and team are more motivated to do a good job when they know exactly what is expected of them. No one likes to be given daily tasks or a project with little to no direction. People are more motivated when they know the exact goals to reach, both individually and as a team.
Show how much you value everyone in your department. This especially holds true for the good workers. Quite often you should take them aside and truly communicate to them your appreciation. When they know you know how hard they work and how valuable they are, it makes them feel great and continue to be motivated. A simple pat on the back, shake of the hand, or a simple thank you goes a long way, much more than you would know. It is so simple to say kind and encouraging words. This simple people skill will get you more than just about any other motivational technique.
Help people grow. Always try to help people grow their skills and develop their careers through training, providing opportunities, and spreading the word through upper management. This will make you be the person people want to work for and be in your department. When employees feel they are learning and growing, they work harder and more efficiently. Don’t let them become bored and stagnant or else they will become sluggish, both personally and professionally. Challenge and empower your employees with tasks, projects, and assignments. You will both win. Coaching and mentoring your employees by focusing on the needed strengths for them to learn and grow is one of the best things you can do as manager and leader. Build their confidence when they are unsure about themselves, bring them out of their shell when they are shy, and help with reporting and process skills when they are not program experts. By helping your employees learn and grow, you will have more people in which you can delegate tasks. This in turn gives you more time to focus on other aspects of improving your department, which is a win/win situation.
Encourage your employees to recognize each other for great work. Whenever a co-employee does great work, goes the extra effort by helping out one another, or inspiring extra teamwork, try to get them to pat each other on the back. When employees respect and help one another, you have a highly motivated department. There are reward programs like “power points” that you can set up for just this type of scenario. Rewarding ideas will be covered later in this lesson.
Motivate by building their confidence. This should be done both individually and as a team. When people feel good about themselves, they work better as a team. They need to clearly understand the big picture and believe that working as a team produces better results. This will get the slower performers working faster, and the faster performers continuing to work hard.
Motivate the already confident by listening and discussing triumphs. The more you show these “self starter” type of employees that you really care about their expert skills, the more they will be motivated to keep you impressed. You would also really try to make sure you get these employees whatever they request. For example, if they ask for a software package, get it for them without asking too many questions. You want to especially build respect with these key employees.
Show the team you truly care. Showing concern and understanding for your employees are signs of management strength, not weakness. Let them feed off of your positive and caring approach. Strong leaders show they care by getting the team what they need to succeed, even if they have to work across department lines. Ask about their interests, family, hobbies, and genuinely be curious about their lives. Know the little things like how their kids did in the game. You can do this in a group atmosphere as well. Many employees who feel you are uncaring or unfair are more willing to cheat on their expected workload and think they can get away with it. They will feel like they are just a number so why should it matter what they do. So make sure you are there for them and show that you care. This really helps build harmony and teamwork and thus more productivity.
Stress their importance to the company. Let them know that what they do is a vital part of the company’s success. Even an operator who just answers a phone is vital as they are the first customer touch point. If the operator comes across as a positive happy person, the tone will then be set to the person who receives the transferred call. Another example would be a support technician who not only fixed the problem, but also asked if there is anything else they can do and go the extra mile. This can result in future sales just based on the support the customer received.
Create more interesting and admirable job titles. For example, add the word “Specialist” after a normal mundane title. “Technical Support Specialist” sounds a little more important than “Technical Support Representative,” yet has the same job responsibility. This also looks better in the customer’s eyes. Some employees might find this a bit suspect. They will think a better title with no monetary increase is a bit dubious. It is up to you to judge whether or not this idea would work for your department. This should also be considered when writing a job description as described in lesson 4.
Do not rule by intimidation. Only short-term gain is usually achieved with this approach and a higher rate of attrition usually occurs. It is good for a little healthy fear associated with the natural approach to hierarchy and respect for the position, but that is as far as it should go. Intimidation is a morale killer.
Don’t raise your voice. Show people their errors and mistakes in a calm and professional way, even if you want to scream. Calmly show them how to do it right. Morale goes down when your temper goes up. A sergeant in the army has a need to yell, as it could be a matter of life and death. A manager of a business department luckily does not have that responsibility.
Don’t penalize them for doing their best. If you do not hit a goal or complete a task, don’t take it out on your staff. It is your job to set a truly achievable goal, provide the right training and materials, and hire the right people. If they are doing their best but their best is not good enough, you need to re-evaluate how to achieve the goals or complete the tasks. See lesson 2 for ways to set up your department to its optimal.
Focus on their strengths and try to work around their weaknesses. There will be times when a person is better suited in another position or other duties. That is not to say that they should be rewarded for poor performance, it is more about working with what you got. Many times you will have inherited someone who has some sharp skills but are not happy in their work. For some reason, although they are sharp, they are just not getting the job at hand. You may have tried to get them trained, talked to them about the need to improve their performance and/or attitude, and you still have someone who is not performing up to speed. You can go through the discipline and firing processes as described in lesson 5, but if there is a chance to truly utilize this person, do all you can to keep them. You might first need to post the job for others to apply before you can move this person into the other position. That might be up to HR. If it works out and you keep this person after you moved them to another position, you would want to talk to them about your high expectations. This could really be a win/win situation for both of you.
Really, really motivate your favorites. This goes against conventional “all for one” thinking but lets face it, you want to keep the employees who enjoy doing the difficult tasks, who never complain about the work given, work after hours to complete the task, and is willing to do what it takes to make the company succeed, fully motivated with extra perks and pats on the back. Try hard to accommodate any of their requests. These are the people who can help you, help the rest of the team, to understand what is going on.
Continually train and keep your department up to speed. Whenever there is something new on the horizon such as a product launch, software release, or any new projects ahead, make sure you train them to fully understand the new entity. It is really important to make sure the supervisors of the department are always involved in the latest training opportunities. This is where daily meetings come into play as discussed in lesson 7. It is important to show the department that you want to make sure they have all the training they need. They might also have some training ideas or requests. This is one thing that can really earn you a great deal of respect, and show great leadership skills. Constant training builds and motivates both the team, and individual.
Make the environment for the employees as nice as possible. The environment in which your employees are expected to work should be clean and ethically pleasing. You should also make sure they have all the materials they need, no matter how trivial, to perform to their optimum level. An unorganized department, dirty bathrooms, or not having basic supplies are fairly easy to amend and at little cost. If possible, get the best chairs and replace the old broken equipment. These small changes can enhance employee morale, and improve productivity. Give them what they need to produce, and they will produce. Even a $5.00 item can make a big difference to someone. Try not to nickel and dime everything unless absolutely necessary. Also, make sure that your team knows and sees that you are doing everything you can to improve their working environment. Even if you are unsuccessful, they will appreciate the fact that you tried. Just make sure you don’t have the attitude of “this is what you get, so get use to it.”
Motivate the good workers by disciplining the bad. Another way to keep the good workers motivated is to discipline the bad workers when it is truly time to do so. Putting your head in the sand when there are problem employees is a de-motivator for the good workers. You also want the poor performing people to feel a little uncomfortable so that they know they need to improve.
Make your positive attitude seen. Make it a point to at least once or twice a day, depending on the size of the department you manage, to walk around the department and say hello with a positive, feel good smile on your face. Ask how things are going or if there is anything you can do for them. Even asking them if they would like a Coke or something trivial like that helps build morale. You also want to really motivate your supervisor staff. They are your front line to all complaints and getting your point across in a daily if not hourly fashion to the team. They are the ones in the trenches with the rest of the department. This is why it is so important to meet daily, or at the least weekly, with your supervisors. In meetings, you are sharing the goals and discussing improvements all the while motivating due to the time you give each day. There will be more information regarding meetings in lesson 7.
Don’t let them burn out. When you start seeing that the challenge is getting to be too much, people feel more like a number than part of the company family, are easily disappointed, stressed over changes, too much anxiety trying to obtain the goals, or just basically losing interest, you need to remedy the situation as soon as possible. Provide a bright outlook for the future, listen to their worries and concerns, let them know you care, let them know how valuable they are, provide more interesting yet related training, and rejuvenate by reducing the de-moralizing tasks and increasing the interesting work. Signs of burn out can lead to employee resignation.
Have some fun. Depending on the type of department you have, certain external team building events like bowling, paint ball, golfing, and picnics are a good idea at least one time a year. You can also have some internal fun such as a pizza lunch, have a potluck lunch, or a jersey day in which you wear your favorite teams jersey. Some people are not into after work activities, and that’s fine, as long as it’s a majority decision.
Buy Cokes, donuts, bagels, pizza, etc for the team periodically. For a few bucks, you will have happier employees. You may be able to expense this as well for morale purposes. Even while you are walking around the department, just ask if you can get them anything such as a bottle of cold water. Write down the order on a notepad and maybe ask one of your supervisors to help personally pass them out. These little gestures go a long way. Don’t make it a corny event, just a nice simple gesture.
The Management team cooks a barbeque for all the staff. This is both motivational and rewarding for a job well done. Employees will appreciate the fact that their manager is barbequing for them.
Point to keep in mind:
When you hit a plateau… There will be times when your department does great for so long that the challenge is no longer there. When you get to this point, try to motivate by looking at beating your competitor’s goals. For example, if you are at a 95% customer satisfaction rating, try to make it to 98% by focusing on every little bit of detail. Another way to motivate is by finding new training courses with certification. You can also try cross training your employees by having team members sit with other team members in different groups or even departments. Also let your boss or upper management know you are willing and capable of taking on new projects and additional responsibilities if applicable.
Ask a few of your most trusted employees what truly motivates the team. There is nothing wrong with this. You shouldn’t keep on throwing darts at the board hoping one of them hits the bulls-eye. Not only is it ineffective, it can make you look bad and silly trying some obscure motivational techniques. By understanding what truly provides the motivation the team needs to succeed, the quicker you are to obtaining your goals. Pep talks and fun games might be ok for short-term goals, but in the long run they have no effect. Communication again is key.
Hire nothing but the best people. New employees who have the right aptitude and attitude tend to motivate and build morale with existing team members. There will be more about hiring the right people in Lesson 4.
Don’t forget the people out of sight. If you work in a 24/7 type of company or providing after hours support, you will not see the swing and graveyard shift personnel as much as you would like. They need to be motivated as well.
Again, do not micromanage. If you plan, organize, train, communicate, direct and lead correctly as described throughout this course, you should not have to micromanage your staff. Continually over shadowing or controlling excessively and not letting them have a chance to prove themselves is very demoralizing. Looking over someone’s back is very uncomfortable unless they ask for the help. This does not mean that you shouldn’t monitor the work going on in your department. It means to trust that your staff is capable of doing the work expected of them. If there are any problems or training issues, you handle it by meeting with the supervisor or with the individuals themselves to discuss ways in which to improve.