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How to Motivate Employees

Motivate employees

How to Motivate Employees

People look for new jobs for a variety of reasons. If they’re just entering the job market, say, straight from college, their primary motivation might be to just get experience, even if the pay isn’t great. For others, they might be looking for more flexible work hours, or an opportunity for promotion. But whatever the reason for looking for a new job, one of the ways to keep people at the current job is to keep them encouraged. It’s important to know how to motivate employees, not just lead them.

Often feeling encouraged at work can be more important than an incremental raise, more vacation days, or other purely economic benefits. For most of us, the paycheck matters, but money isn’t everything.

Motivate employees

Here are some ways to motivate employees:

Listen to them. Everyone wants to be heard — yet it’s a common misstep of new (or poor) managers to not make listening to employees a priority. If you don’t know what your employees value, you are missing an opportunity to retain them by offering them what’s important to them. So make a point of doing regular check-ins with people on your team to find out why they took the job, and what keeps them coming back.

Act on feedback. And of course, listening is only step one. What makes people feel heard is when you retain the information and do something with it.

Does someone have a terrible commute? See if your company will allow them to work from home once a week, or shift their hours to avoid the morning rush. Does someone with not much experience seek more guidance? See if you can find them a mentor. And note, neither of those solutions cost money.

Be their champion. Not everyone likes the spotlight, but almost everyone likes recognition.

[bctt tweet=”If you’re a manager, make a point of being your team’s biggest fan, not just their coach.”]

Celebrate wins by making sure the right people know. Shoot an email to a senior executive when someone on your team wins a new client or comes up with a great business strategy. Copy the team member on the email so that they know you’re bragging about them. Who doesn’t like a pat on the back?

Get ahead of trouble. Working together 40, 50, even 60 hours a week together is stressful at times, no matter how great your professional relationships. Add economic uncertainty, tight deadlines, stiff competition, office politics . . . and suddenly the room is filled with tension.

Recognize it and deal with it head on. If you don’t, you risk either looking like you’re not paying attention, or don’t care – neither of which is going to motivate employees. And if you acknowledge it, the gesture of caring about how people are feeling – and not just what they’re doing – could be enough to relieve the stress.

Reward them. This could mean an actual bonus of some sort, but it could also mean an impromptu early Friday departure, or a round of smoothies (sushi lunch, coffees, whatever) for the team. But our basic human nature is that it feels good to win a prize for a job well done, and incentivizes us to do the behavior again.

It doesn’t have to be big gestures, and in fact, unless you can award a significant amount of money, it can be more impactful if it’s a non-economic treat (a $25 gift card doesn’t actually go that far, but if you spring for lunch, you can spend about the same and it feels like a much nicer treat).

Retention is easier when you know how to motivate employees.

Many people leave jobs not because of money specifically, but because they feel undervalued, unheard, unimportant. They don’t think their boss cares about what makes them like their job, or notice the dynamics (good or bad) that impact a department.

But people also are more likely to pause before moving on, if they recognize that they love the people they work with, and feel loved back. Some stuff, even in the new economy, is still priceless.