Every manager worth his or her value in their organisation is faced with an ongoing challenge – how to motivate their work force, how to ensure that their employees bring, or will continue to bring, energy, passion and a positive attitude to work every day.
Finding ways and means of ensuring that people are truly connected to their work, their colleagues, their customers and, above all, their company, can sometimes seem like an insurmountable barrier.
Managers need to address current work issues such as employee retention, loyalty and burnout. Motivating employees to feel good about their jobs contributes to good business and a healthy working environment. Motivation is an internal state of mind, and is unique to each individual.
There are those who are motivated by intrinsic value, some through financial gain, some through recognition – what ever the motivating factors, it is up to the Manager to be aware of them. It is true that certain things like money, an office of their own and job security can help people from becoming less motivated, but they don’t usually help people become more motivated.
Motivating and empowering ourselves
Employees need to motivate and empower themselves. That is not necessarily the Manager’s responsibility! It is, however, the Managers responsibility to set up an environment where employees can best do that, and the key is knowing how to set up the environment. Creating an environment where fear is instilled never works – in fact it creates just the opposite effect; lack of motivation, no loyalty and the will to leave the organisation.
Knowing what motivates you, as a Manager, does not necessarily mean that your employees will be motivated the same way. How you perceive a situation that satisfies your motivational needs may not do the same for your employees. Increased job satisfaction does not necessarily mean increased job performance. If the goals and values of the organisation are not aligned with the goals and values of employees, then employees aren’t working effectively toward the mission of the organisation.
Motivating yourself to motivate others
There are some very basic steps you can take that will go a long way toward supporting your employees to motivate themselves toward increased performance in their jobs. As a Team Leader, how you feel about your job will affect those around you. Enthusiasm is highly contagious – if you are enthusiastic about your job, it will become easier for your employees to be as well. So being able to motivate your employees begins with motivating yourself – the key is understanding your own motivations, so in turn you will understand and recognise those of your employees.
It is critical that managers and supervisors know what they want from their employees. Whatever steps are taken to support the motivation of your employees the manager needs to ensure that they, the employees, have a strong input to identifying their goals and that these goals are aligned with the goals of the organisation.
Whatever steps are taken by the Manager towards motivating their employees, it is important that they listen carefully to them, ask their opinions, see how they are feeling, taking an interest in what they are doing and observing them at work. A manager needs to be people sensitive, especially during moments of crisis – i.e. any changes within the company structure, redundancies, and mergers.
Motivation is a process, not a task
Managers need to recognise that while organisations change all the time, so do people. Different priorities feature in their lives, which can affect how they work and why they work. It is an ongoing process to sustain a positive working environment where the manager can encourage employees to strongly motivate themselves; this in turn will motivate and fulfil the manager. Don’t just count on cultivating relationships with your employees to motivate them. People change when affected by stress, overwork, burnout and outside factors. By establishing various systems and structures within your organisation, you will help to motivate and provide equality to your employees.
Employees like to feel involved and have responsibility for the tasks they do. It is important for them to have the right to decide how they will carry out their task and this allows them to feel a stronger sense of ownership, which in turn provides fulfilment and motivation. It also provides the manager with more time!!!
The next steps
As a manager, with a team to motivate so that productivity will increase, follow these simple steps –
- Take the time to identify three things that motivate each of your employees
- Recognise the differences between your impression of what you think is important to them and what they think is important to them
- Really listen – don’t assume or judge, or try to get them to see ‘your point of view’ – this is their point of view, and therefore very important to them
- Set a date to meet with each one individually to discuss these and set a plan of action on how to make things more exciting for the employee
- Take some time after to decide how you will now modify your approach to each employee to ensure that their motivational factors are being met – for example, their jobs could possibly be redesigned to be more fulfilling
Many employees are also motivated by care and concern and this can be achieved by the Manager setting time aside to meet with them on a regular basis. When meeting with your employees, make sure you do not take any calls and tolerate no interruptions, not even from the Boss! This shows the employee that they have your undivided attention and gives them a sense of importance.
Let the employee know how they are doing
The main reason why employees leave an organisation or become disillusioned on the job is related to the way they are treated on a day-to-day basis at their workplace. The best job one can ever have in his life (and one which is almost impossible to have) is one where you know how you have performed each day and feel appreciated for your accomplishments that day.
We all need to know when we are doing a good job, but even more so when we are actually making a difference! Some managers focus on asking their employees to ‘justify the job’ but this can demotivate rather than motivate the employee and instil a sense of insecurity. It is important to acknowledge and celebrate the small victories and successes; this avoids employees feeling frustrated, sceptical and even cynical about the efforts within the organisation.
Rewards could vary from person to person. For some it may be a fresh bouquet of flowers. For others it may be more time off work or being taken out for lunch. These things are useful to reinforce employees and acknowledge them for contributing to the success of the company.
These forms of reinforcement are morale boosters but they should be accompanied by positive reinforcement that is delivered on a daily basis. While money alone will not solve problems, delivering day-to-day positive reinforcement will. This daily reinforcement can take the form of verbal comments, hand-written notes or peer-to-peer interaction that lets fellow workers know they are valued members of the organisation.
Negativity at the workplace
Negativity at the workplace may be the result of several factors. Perhaps the organisation made a decision that adversely affected the workers or perhaps the manager held a staff meeting and gave the impression that he was not interested in the staff’s input. These are all things that create a negative feeling in the workplace and employees will loose interest in giving their maximum to the organisation.
One thing is certain: whatever the cause of this negativity, it is in the interest of the managers of the organisation – and even, to an extent, the staff – to immediately address the issues which seem to be causing the problems. Otherwise, like many other things in life, the problem will grow to resemble a dormant volcano – the employees will be boiling beneath the surface and all of a sudden this will erupt, causing fresh problems which add up to the ones which already exist!
‘Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life’ – but along with that comes the responsibility of ensuring that statement never changes.