During challenging times and fast-paced business environments, motivating your employees increase productivity and efficiency can be challenging, but definitely not impossible. Motivating your organization doesn’t have to take hundreds of thousands of dollars like one may think. It’s simply a matter of investing time and energy into connecting with each employee. This time well spent is where the best kept secrets of motivation lie.
I believe that the following five secrets will help any organization that is willing to commit itself to its front line. Remember, your front line is directly related to your bottom line.
Secret #1 – Create and Share Your Vision with Your Team
First, create and communicate a clear “Vision” of where you intend to lead your organization over the next 12 months. By sharing this Vision with your employees, you provide each individual with a sense of purpose, clarity, meaning, and, above all, security. Security is critical to maximizing productivity. It strengthens each employee’s ability to work through difficult times with a “hero’s mindset.” Light the path with your vision!
As you create your Vision of the future, you also need to design a simple communication plan to reinforce your Vision. Come up with a variety of ways to reinforce your Vision. Sending an e-mail each month isn’t enough. You need to get creative and innovative to catch your employees’ attention.
One of my clients once gave each of his employees a 3-ring binder entitled “Our 2014 Journey” with 12 tabs clearly marking each month of the year. The binder included an opening letter describing the company’s Vision and its commitment to achieving it by year-end. The opening letter also informed the team that they would receive a new chapter each month that would help them review status and implement the needed steps to achieve the company Vision.
This simple idea created such an awesome sense of unity. Everyone felt as if they were an important part of the journey. They understood exactly where they were going and what they needed to do to get there. Because this process created an open channel of communication between managers and employees, each individual anxiously awaited the next chapter of their journey. All employees were extremely motivated because they knew exactly what their manager expected, how he felt, and what he thought about them, the team, the competition and their company as a whole. It motivated them to achieve a higher level of productivity and efficiency. The financial investment this manager made to achieve his goal of company-wide unification was next to nothing.
Secret #2 – Speak to Your Employees in Their Language, Not Yours
If you speak your employees’ language and talk about their personal goals, you will increase their overall productivity. You can’t talk to every employee the same way. You can’t motivate every employee the same way.
Sometimes we forget that we are managing unique individuals. Many managers fall into the trap of thinking that managing each person is like managing the same type of project over and over again. We need to take the time to understand what motivates them, what type of communication and feedback impacts them. When we talk of managing and motivating people, we have to remember it’s an ever-changing and ever-growing experience.
I have been coaching professionals for over 20 years. Without a doubt, the one consistent rule of motivation which stands the test of time is that people do things for THEIR reasons, not yours. It’s important for you to uncover why your employees are working and what they are working toward. It’s sometimes as simple as receiving a promotion or bonus, finding time for continued education, earning extra vacation time, or saving to purchase a new car. The list goes on and on. If you want your employees to climb the highest mountain and swim the widest ocean, then you need to speak their language. Ask them:
- What do you want to achieve in your business and personal life?
- What are your career goals?
- How do you see your current position helping you achieve your overall goals?
- What type of communication do you respond to?
- What type of feedback do you respond to?
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
Help them understand that their position within the company is the vehicle to achieving their dreams. You can do so by attaching their job responsibilities to their goals. For example, if an employee needs two days off for a family function and they have no available vacation time, you can challenge them to complete their responsibilities ahead of schedule. If they do so, then they may have the days off with pay. The saying “What’s in it for me?” is widely used for good reason. It’s truly how your employees think.
Once you understand what’s important to your employees, you will have found the key to motivating them. This will increase their productivity and supply them with an unlimited amount of motivation simply because you have taken the time to get to know them and speak to them in a manner they understand.
Secret #3 – Teach Your Employees How to Fish
One of the most effective ways to motivate your employees is to simply educate them. The best managers develop their employees into self-sufficient, high-achieving professionals. By taking them to their next level of potential and teaching them new skill sets, you release an internal source of pride and confidence. This instills a higher level of productivity and efficiency for the entire company because you have proactively invested the time up-front teaching your employees how to do things right instead of waiting until you must correct them.
Every day your company and its employees deal with many issues that require assistance. There are an endless number of topics and skill sets that employees need to learn and master. So many times employees don’t ask for help because they feel it will communicate weakness. So many times managers don’t take the time to teach their employees because they themselves were never taught: they learned on their own.
If you want to jump-start productivity and motivate your team to do things right, simply teach them how from the very beginning. A good way to tackle this is to set up an internal training system. Set up small groups of employees based on common skill sets they need to master. Challenge them to understand the issue and show them how to “fish for the answer.” Include role-plays and show-and-tell exercises so they can demonstrate to the group, and to themselves, what they have learned.
Don’t expect your team to learn the lessons during one session. Once they’ve mastered their skill, have them repeat it. Repetition of the correct behavior will create the confidence they need to properly perform this behavior when you’re not present. As you teach your employees how to perform their jobs at the highest levels of efficiency, you challenge them to think proactively through issues and find answers and solutions on their own.
Your employees want you to teach them how to succeed. They’re thirsty to grow and develop. Teach them. Invest in them. They’ll find it extremely motivating.
Secret #4 – Tell Your Employees What You Expect
Don’t expect your employees to read your mind. Rather than spending valuable time “spinning their wheels” and pondering what their manager wants, clear understanding of what’s expected gives them the motivation to start in right away to accomplish the desired end result.
Once you have given clear direction to your employees, set up benchmarks for them to report their progress. This allows you time to give them praise and further direction if needed. If there are problems that arise, another good example of providing clear direction is to positively critique them. This will save employees time and possible future embarrassment. There’s nothing more motivating than a leader who is tuned in to his or her employees.
Secret #5 – Create a Culture of “No Fear”
To create a culture of “no fear,” your employees need to feel that they can professionally express themselves – that they can always tell the truth without having to worry about hidden agendas. In a culture of no fear, there’s no time wasted on lack of clarity or understanding because your employees know they can come to you with any question they may have. This type of culture combats two of the biggest problems in corporate America today: lack of communication and time management skills. It encourages your employees to communicate their ideas and avoid wasted time by asking needed questions.
Because so many employees are too scared to be wrong or to fail, companies are unable to tap into their most valuable resource – their people. When people can be themselves, when their ideas, recommendations and solutions are truly heard, you release a total human potential throughout your entire organization. This type of culture creates synergy and motivation for all. By opening up the “no fear” channel of communication, ideas are born, creativity and innovation are released, and a higher level of productivity is achieved.
Conclusion: Your Front Line is Connected to Your Bottom Line
As you see, motivation takes many forms. Think carefully about the five secrets of motivation presented in this article. I encourage you to hold yourself accountable to implementing as many of these concepts as possible. If you can make a commitment to invest your time and energy into your company and its employees, you will begin to see instant results.
Remember, you don’t need money to motivate your team. You need clear direction, understanding, the willingness to listen, the willingness to teach, and a Vision where truth is your model.
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