Six Strategies to Motivate Employees

You’ve worked hard to assemble a great team and train them on the ins and outs of your business. Now you’ll want to inspire them to give it their all. This can be a challenge, especially with hourly or seasonal employees, but the right management techniques can make it happen. Here are six strategies for how to motivate employees.

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1. Provide incentives.

Incentive programs are a great way to reward (and keep!) valuable people. Money isn’t the only way to motivate employees, so get creative with your incentives, which could include anything from compensation to profit sharing to recognizing good work publicly. Decide what incentives would work best for each employee, and go from there.

2. Create a positive environment.

If your workplace has a friendly, upbeat atmosphere, employees feel less stressed, which affects the way they treat customers, clients and coworkers. It also improves their attitude about work. Check in with them regularly (it doesn’t have to be formal or scheduled) so you know how they’re feeling and what they’re dealing with. They’ll feel supported, and you’ll have a better idea of how you can help them.

3. Address employee issues as they arise..

When you have a difficult personality on your team, the most important thing is to deal with the situation immediately. If you put it off, things just get worse — employees gossip, and you could be viewed as an ineffective manager for not dealing with it directly. So sit down with the employee in question and create an open dialogue with that person and, if necessary, other related staff. Work with the employee to develop a strategy for improving the situation, and check in daily or weekly to monitor progress. If it’s a performance issue, set goals and deadlines for improvement.

4. Set realistic goals.

If employees feel like they have to work overtime to meet deadlines because their schedules are filled with meetings and other obligations, you’re not setting them up for success. Before assigning big projects or new responsibilities, talk to them about their workload and whether or not they can handle taking on more. Use the opportunity to ask what they like and dislike working on most and leverage that in their assignments. Employees are motivated to work better when they’re excited about what they’re doing.

5. Communicate.

Keep employees updated on what’s going on in the business, including successes, challenges and new opportunities. In many cases, motivating employees comes down to keeping them informed — they feel more invested in the business and less like a cog in the machine.

6. Model the behavior you want to see.

You can’t expect to have a great team if you don’t hold yourself accountable to the same standards. If you make a mistake, own up to it. Show your trustworthiness by being honest and forthcoming. Follow through on what you say you will do, whether that means arriving on time or updating computer equipment. Your employees look to you to know what’s expected of them. If you take pride in your work and act with integrity and enthusiasm, they’ll do the same.