Sometimes the “thank yous” don’t seem to cut it when you’re trying to motivate your subordinates.
Approximately 46 percent of employees who leave a workplace do so because they don’t feel appreciated, research shows. And 88 percent of workers report that the work they do goes unacknowledged.
Don’t let this be the case at your company. As a good manager, you need to tip the scales. Show your employees you value them — and give them incentives to be more productive — by trying ideas like these:
- Workers at Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton, OH were swamped one year when a nearby hospital closed and they received most of its patients. To thank employees for their hard work in coping with the change, administration gave them all free gasoline cards.
- If workers meet their goals, consider giving them a gift certificate to a local restaurant. Going out to eat on the company’s dime is a big incentive.
- Once a month, provide your workers with a special meal or snacks during meetings. Doing this will emphasize that the meeting is important, increase participation and make the meeting something to look forward to.
With e-mail, telephone, instant messaging and a host of other communication channels available in today’s workplaces, you may find it difficult to figure out which one works best for your department.
But remember that face-to-face communication is still by far most effective.
So, what can you do to encourage your employees to speak to one another face-to-face more often? Try breaking down the physical barriers in your office to allow everyone that important in-person contact every day. Try the following strategies to eliminate the physical barriers that may exist in your workplace:
- Communicate in cubes. If many employees work in separate offices, try restructuring your workstations into cubicles. Although you may hear some moans and groans from your employees about the cubicles, having everyone working in “open air” together will encourage them to talk to one another in person instead of picking up the phone or sending an e-mail. And explain to your employees that better face-to-face communication is your goal so they understand why you made the change.
- Have an open-door policy. As a supervisor, you may have an “open-door policy” with your employees, but make sure they have one too. If you want to stick with separate offices instead of cubicles, ask your employees to keep their doors open to promote better communication in your workplace.
Even the most rule-loving employee will wilt under a controlling supervisor who micro-manages every project or idea.
But your controlling nature could be your best friend, says Cheryl Cran, author of the new book The Control Freak Revolution: Make Your Most Maddening Behaviors Work For Your Company and To Your Advantage. Try these strategies for turning negative habits into positive influences:
- Examine your behavior. Before you can put a positive spin on your behavior, you must acknowledge the problem. Analyze how you react when your employees address issues or concerns about their work. Do you criticize their performance or downplay their intelligence? Once you can pinpoint how your behavior is getting in the way, you can begin to change it.
- Admit when you’re wrong. Just because you’re the supervisor doesn’t mean you can’t be wrong. Often, controlling leaders make mistakes by forcing others to perform tasks in pre-defined ways rather than allowing their employees to work independently. When this happens, you must take a step back, admit that you were wrong and determine how to fix the problem in a way that plays up everyone’s strengths.
- Know the personalities on your team. While some employees will thrive under your diligent attention to their work, others may dread seeing you come around the corner. Try this: Give your employees a short personality quiz to find out who needs your input and who works better when given more freedom. You can find quick quizzes online, such as the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. Once you understand your workers’ many personality types, you can better cater your management style to fit their needs.
- Inspire — don’t “fix” — your employees. It’s easy to tick off all the negative traits you’ve spotted in your employees. What’s harder is inspiring your team to improve. Employees can sense when your suggestions are more about fixing a problem than providing them with an opportunity to learn and grow. First step: The next time you offer to send an employee to a seminar to boost a specific skill, such as time management, try to focus on how the seminar will help her accomplish her professional goals (e.g., juggle more responsibility) rather than noting that it will “fix” any current problems (e.g., her tendency to miss deadlines).
- Bask in your employees’ success. We all want to be recognized for our work, but if you take all the credit for your employees’ success, you’ll alienate and demoralize your team — neither of which lead to a productive working environment. Instead, pat your employees on the back and let others know how much you appreciate their work.
Every company is dealing with budget cuts and an unstable economy — but that doesn’t mean you can’t find cost-effective ways to motivate your staff.
“Studies show that money is a short-term motivator,” says management consultant Joe Raasch. That means you don’t need access to your company’s bank account to spur your workers to success.
Here’s how to you can create a program that keeps your employees motivated:
Cater to your employees’ desires. You’ll need to know what makes your employees tick before you can establish your program. Ask yourself:
- Do my employees want to reach corporate or personal goals?
- Would they appreciate an extra day of vacation or a longer lunch hour?
- Do they want more challenging assignments?
- Do they need daily rewards?
Once you know what goals your employees are working for, you can use those incentives to keep them motivated.
Reward individual and group efforts. Even the toughest work day contains some type of success. Your job is to ferret out those high points and encourage your employees to replicate them every day.
Example: Consider the last time one of your employees resolved an angry phone call or met a deadline despite his personal or professional shake-ups. Those are the times when you need to highlight the small successes rather than focusing on problems your employees can’t fix.
Key motivator: Employees will be less likely to give up during a challenge if they know you’re paying attention to their hard work.
Open up new opportunities. When your staff members have tackled one challenge, give them another one. Your faith in them will inspire them to continue accomplishing your company’s goals.
Try this: Allow workers to attend a meeting in your place or loop them into planning sessions to show them that you trust them.