What are the main employee motivation strategies?
The following specific steps can help you go a long way toward supporting your employees to motivate themselves in your organization.
1. Do more than read this article — apply what you're reading here
This maxim is true when reading any management publication.
2. Briefly write down the motivational factors that sustain you and what you can do to sustain them
This little bit of "motivation planning" can give you strong perspective on how to think about supporting the motivations of your employees.
3. Make of list of three to five things that motivate each of your employees
Read the checklist of possible motivators. Fill out the list yourself for each of your employees and then have each of your employees fill out the list for themselves. Compare your answers to theirs. Recognize the differences between your impression of what you think is important to them and what they think is important to them. Then meet with each of your employees to discuss what they think are the most important motivational factors to them. Lastly, take some time alone to write down how you will modify your approaches with each employee to ensure their motivational factors are being met. (NOTE: This may seem like a "soft, touchy-feely exercise" to you. If it does, then talk to a peer or your boss about it. Much of what's important in management is based very much on "soft, touchy-feely exercises". Learn to become more comfortable with them. The place to start is to recognize their importance.)
4. Work with each employee to ensure their motivational factors are taken into consideration in your reward systems
For example, their jobs might be redesigned to be more fulfilling. You might find more means to provide recognition, if that is important to them. You might develop a personnel policy that rewards employees with more family time, etc.
5. Have one-on-one meetings with each employee
Employees are motivated more by your care and concern for them than by your attention to them. Get to know your employees, their families, their favorite foods, names of their children, etc. This can sound manipulative — and it will be if not done sincerely. However, even if you sincerely want to get to know each of your employees, it may not happen unless you intentionally set aside time to be with each of them.
6. Cultivate strong skills in delegation
Delegation includes conveying responsibility and authority to your employees so they can carry out certain tasks. However, you leave it up to your employees to decide how they will carry out the tasks. Skills in delegation can free up a great deal of time for managers and supervisors. It also allows employees to take a stronger role in their jobs, which usually means more fulfillment and motivation in their jobs, as well.
7. Reward it when you see it
A critical lesson for new managers and supervisors is to learn to focus on employee behaviors, not on employee personalities. Performance in the workplace should be based on behaviors toward goals, not on popularity of employees. You can get in a great deal of trouble (legally, morally and interpersonally) for focusing only on how you feel about your employees rather than on what you're seeing with your eyeballs.
8. Reward it soon after you see it
This helps to reinforce the notion that you highly prefer the behaviors that you're currently seeing from your employees. Often, the shorter the time between an employee's action and your reward for the action, the clearer it is to the employee that you highly prefer that action.
9. Implement at least the basic principles of performance management
Good performance management includes identifying goals, measures to indicate if the goals are being met or not, ongoing attention and feedback about measures toward the goals, and corrective actions to redirect activities back toward achieving the goals when necessary. Performance management can focus on organizations, groups, processes in the organization and employees.
10. Establish goals that are SMARTER
SMARTER goals are: specific, measurable, acceptable, realistic, timely, extending of capabilities, and rewarding to those involved.
11. Clearly convey how employee results contribute to organizational results
Employees often feel strong fulfillment from realizing that they're actually making a difference. This realization often requires clear communication about organizational goals, employee progress toward those goals and celebration when the goals are met.
12. Celebrate achievements
This critical step is often forgotten. New managers and supervisors are often focused on a getting "a lot done". This usually means identifying and solving problems. Experienced managers come to understand that acknowledging and celebrating a solution to a problem can be every bit as important as the solution itself. Without ongoing acknowledgement of success, employees become frustrated, skeptical and even cynical about efforts in the organization.
13. Let employees hear from their customers (internal or external)
Let employees hear customers proclaim the benefits of the efforts of the employee . For example, if the employee is working to keep internal computer systems running for other employees (internal customers) in the organization, then have other employees express their gratitude to the employee. If an employee is providing a product or service to external customers, then bring in a customer to express their appreciation to the employee.
14. Admit to yourself (and to an appropriate someone else) if you don't like an employee —
Managers and supervisors are people. It's not unusual to just not like someone who works for you. That someone could, for example, look like an uncle you don't like. In this case, admit to yourself that you don't like the employee. Then talk to someone else who is appropriate to hear about your distaste for the employee, for example, a peer, your boss, your spouse, etc. Indicate to the appropriate person that you want to explore what it is that you don't like about the employee and would like to come to a clearer perception of how you can accomplish a positive working relationship with the employee. It often helps a great deal just to talk out loud about how you feel and get someone else's opinion about the situation. As noted above, if you continue to focus on what you see about employee performance, you'll go a long way toward ensuring that your treatment of employees remains fair and equitable.